There is a tremendous amount of interest these days in Yoga and Pilates practiced together. Both are sophisticated systems of integrative exercise with a lot in common. The 6 Pilates Principles: centering, concentration, control, precision, breath and flow, could easily be used to describe the principles of many kinds of yoga as well.
Pilates and yoga are also quite different from each other, and it is in the differences that we find many of the complimentary aspects of the two that make them a great duo.
Strength & Stretch
In a general view, Pilates focuses more on strength and Yoga focuses more on stretch. There are certainly exceptions to this statement as Pilates does include stretching, in fact, Pilates is known for creating length in the body, and doing yoga does develop strength. The difference is in the emphasis. Many people are finding that the core strength and muscle integration they develop in Pilates support them well in daily activities and for those who also do Yoga, Pilates gives them the stability that they need to control their movements and safely expand into more challenging Yoga poses. Conversely, the expansive stretching achieved in Yoga provides great range of motion and a wonderful balance to the typically more core oriented Pilates exercises.
Centering, Breath and Flow
The breath is the great cleanser of the body and in both disciplines one is encouraged to develop conscious breathing, using a deep full breath to enhance awareness and depth of each movement. Working with the breath links the physical exertion with attention of the mind to create grace and flow through the class. In yoga, techniques of yogic breathing are used to connect the yoga asanas (poses) and some meditation practices can be based solely on breath. Breathing in pilates is recognized as rejuvenating, detoxifying and a means of enhancing awareness; as it is in yoga. Joseph Pilates, the founder of the Pilates Method encouraged his students to use the breath as fully as possible, expanding the breath into the back and expelling the air completely from the ribcage to engage the core.
Benefits of Yoga and Pilates
The benefits of pilates and yoga are extraordinary. They are both known to support the development of long, strong, graceful bodies that move efficiently without creating tightness. Both disciplines are integrative; associated with stress reduction and increased well-being. Both yoga and pilates are used as rehabilitative systems. They can be adjusted for a wide range of people and fitness levels, and both support the achievement of very high levels of body-mind-spirit fitness. Yoga and Pilates practitioners do find themselves enhanced well beyond the physical aspect.
Yoga/Pilates Classes and Integrity
While yoga-pilates exploration and a mix & match approach is very valid, and can enhance your fitness level, it is also important to remember that pilates and yoga are each very full, distinct, and sophisticated disciplines. Really getting to know either one of them and experiencing the full benefits of either takes time. To reap the rewards of pilates or yoga, you need a knowledgeable teacher and you need to practice regularly. At the Pilates & Yoga Room we pride ourselves on having the best certified Yoga & Pilates Instructors in the county, all who have invested hundreds of training hours to become specialists in their field.
Pilates vs Yoga
So which to do? The happy answer is: Do Both! Find out for yourself which discipline is right for you. It might be that devoting yourself fully to one or the other feels best, or perhaps developing stability and strength in pilates will lead you to further advance your yoga practice.
By: Juli Stockstill, Owner / Personal Trainer / Fitness Specialist