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The Difference Between Yoga & Pilates

Ahhhh, one of the questions we get asked all the time here at Reform Pilates Whitford. “What are the differences between Yoga and Pilates?“.


These two practices are often lumped together into the same category, so those that don’t know probably just assume they are the same thing, or very similar.




Even though they are both low impact exercises, they are very different and are beneficial for different reasons.


With Pilates, you normally hold a position and then increase core strength by moving your arms & legs. Whereas with Yoga, you either hold a position or flow into a different one.


History of Pilates

Image Source: http://pilates-isometric.com/joseph-pilates-awal-mula-pilates/


Joseph Pilates is the inventor of Pilates. As a child, he looked to improve his health on his own, so he started studying various exercise techniques, such as martial arts and yoga.


Joseph himself has been described as an “anatomist and a mechanical genius” as he created the technique that stabilises the core, before going through a range of motion exercises.


He became extremely interested in body movement and how it worked, especially in the first world war where he worked with injured soldiers & treated them using his new methods. He later opened a fitness studio in New York where his exercise methods - known today as “Pilates” took off and were used by the likes of dancers, actors and athletes.


Pilates is now either practiced on a reformer machine or on a mat. Both techniques have the same purpose for increasing core strength with small or large movements of other body parts.


History of Yoga



Unlike Pilates, which has a clear beginning (and is relatively young in comparison), Yoga is an ancient spiritual practice stemming from the Indus-Sarasvati civilization (Northern India) around 2700 BC. Over the years it has been developed and refined, with hundreds of scriptures being documented since.


In the late 1800’s we began to see a more modern shift with yoga, as it began to travel to western countries, attracting a lot of following and attention. In 1947 Indra Devi opened a yoga studio in Hollywood - becoming a pioneer for Indian and western teachers.


Today Yoga is an extremely popular practice with thousands of yoga studios all over the world - including our own right here in Whitford!


There are some key differences between the two practices



Not only is there a spiritual difference, with Yoga being more of a meditative practice, there are also differences in the equipment.


While both practices do use a mat, Pilates also has different equipment too. The classic and most well machine in Pilates is a reformer, but they also use things such as the wunda chair, spine corrector, Cadillac and small barrel (to name a few).


With yoga, it is just you and your mat. Or, you may use smaller equipment to help in certain poses, such as straps, blocks or blankets.


The different methods



Yoga uses the body as resistance, as it is all about the mind-body connection, whereas Pilates uses the equipment for resistance.


Also, yoga will typically end with Savasana (relaxation) or a meditation of sorts, and a Pilates class doesn’t rely on the mind-body connection as much, and is more about stability and core. It actually is used as a rehabilitative tool for people who may need physical therapy.


The different positions



The movements and positions are also very different in each practice, even though they both focus on breathing, alignment and technique.


Typically in yoga you will hold poses for a longer period of time allowing you to fall deeper into the movement.


Pilates doesn’t tend to come back to movements once they are completed, whereas Yoga there is a lot of repetition & flow.


The different benefits



There are many key benefits to both Yoga and Pilates. But depending on what you’re trying to achieve, one class might be more up your alley.


Yoga works your entire body, and gets into lots of smaller muscles and generally speaking, with Pilates it is more about your ‘Powerhouse’ muscles.


So if you are after a more intense class, that will get your heart rate up and burn. Then your best bet is going to be Pilates as this is more physically challenging.


If you would like something more mentally stimulated, and you want to leave feeling relaxed and zen, then Yoga is the way to go.


Here at Reform Pilates Whitford we recommend reaping the benefits of both practices for a full body & mind cleanse. We believe they go hand in hand with each other & are a great balance if you are wanting to do a few classes a week - which is why we offer both.


Check out our timetable and see if we have something for you!









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