Yoga or Pilates – which one suits you?
Yoga and Pilates are two trend sports that do a lot more than make you sweat. Even if you haven’t tried them yourself, you’ve likely heard about the positive effects from your friends. It’s hard to imagine the world of sports without Pilates and yoga, as they’re such great additions to any training plan. But there’s such a wide variety of courses and styles, that it can be overwhelming for beginners. So we’ve taken a closer look at yoga and Pilates and created a guide to help you find the best class for you.
What is yoga?
Yoga is an ancient practice that comes from India and is rooted in philosophy. Yoga is best described as “the path to self-knowledge” and involves postures, breathing exercises and meditation techniques. During physical exercises, which are called asanas, the whole muscular system is tensed and relaxed again.
Mobility and strength training are a big part of yoga, while breathing exercises called Pranayama focus on breathing techniques with the aim of connecting the body with the mind through breathing. It’s not uncommon to have sore muscles the day after an intense yoga session, in addition to a feeling of total relaxation. However, not every yoga class is the same.
Different styles of yoga have developed over the years with differing focuses. The best way to know which style suits you best is to try them out. It’ll be worth it!
Yoga will suit people who:
- Want to become more flexible
- Want to strengthen muscles
- Want to get rid of back problems
- Want to get rid of tension
- Want to relax
- Want to align body and mind
- Want to increase self-awareness
- Improve wellbeing
So what is Pilates?
Pilates is a full-body workout named after Joseph Hubert Pilates of Brunswick, Germany. It was originally developed during World War I to strengthen the bodies of soldiers, and became popular in New York in the 1960s. Pilates aims to strengthen the core, i.e. the pelvic floor, the lower back, and the abdominal muscles, thus improving overall posture. In Pilates the core is referred to as the ‘powerhouse’ of the human body.
It’s mainly the smaller, deeper muscles near the spine that we target in Pilates. In yoga, muscles are tensed, stretched and relaxed, and exercises are performed with control and fluidity, while in Pilates one muscle group is targeted at a time. Breathing plays an important role in Pilates, helping release and maximise muscle tension. Unlike yoga, where all you need is a mat, Pilates classes often use additional equipment.
Pilates will suit people who:
- Suffer from tension and back pain
- Want to strengthen their spine
- Want to train their flexibility
- Want to improve their posture
- Want to complement another sport
Which is it: Yoga or Pilates?
The answer isn’t straight forward, as some aspects of yoga and Pilates are similar. Both share the objective of strengthening muscles, improving flexibility, focusing on breathing and releasing internal and external tension. Pilates is younger than yoga and uses additional equipment. It targets specific muscle areas which makes the sport especially popular with dancers.
Pilates is great for those who are recovering from injury or who haven’t exercised in a while, so if you want to improve your posture and relieve back pain Pilates might be right for you.
Yoga is more than just a sequence of exercises – it’s a path to self-knowledge. Besides optimizing your physical fitness and flexibility, you can relax your mind and train your self-awareness with yoga.
Here’s what you should watch out for:
Risk of injury is low in both yoga and Pilates. Nevertheless, if you suffer from chronic musculoskeletal conditions, you should consult your doctor beforehand. You should also inform your coaches of any injuries or illnesses at the beginning of each class. Start with an introduction class so you can get used to each exercise and learn how to do them correctly from the beginning. Then you can progress onto more advanced classes.