Yoga/Pilates….what’s the Difference?

I’m not going to lie, a certain light goes on in my eyes when a student rocks up to my pilates class expecting it to be ‘like yoga’…….no, not a chance sorry.

First let me be very clear that I am talking about the style of yoga and pilates I teach, vinyasa yoga, mat & barre pilates. While there is reformer pilates which is less dynamic, requires reformer equipment, is exceptional for rehabbing injuries and will still give you a very tidy butt kicking, it’s not what I’m about.

So why is pilates not like yoga? What is the difference?

Yoga is an ancient tradition of mind, body and soul wellbeing. The physical aspect of the practice, while definitely creating strength and flexibility, is a means to the spiritual goal of yoga. It is an 8 limbed tradition with the physical practice being just one aspect or limb. The desired outcome of the practice is to create the ability to calm the mind and develop a deep sense of peace, among many other benefits.

The focus during the physical practice is on the breath (in through the nose, out through the nose). Movement is coordinated and flows to the rhythm of the breath.

Pilates was created a mere hundred odd years ago during World War 1. Originally it was a reformer system to rehabilitate injured soldiers and has morphed over the years incorporating the strength and flexibility training of ballerinas.

The practice focuses on strength and toning, in particular the core or ‘powerhouse’ of the body. The powerhouse consists of abdominals, back, hips and butt. The premise is every movement we make comes from our core and when this is strong the rest of the body is stronger and less prone to injury.

In a mat or a barre class the intention is to work each part of the powerhouse through dynamic movements. Generally it will be to the point of fatigue (read: pain/inability to continue) and then move onto the next part. The breath is in through the nose and out through the mouth, with a forced exhale to engage the core. It is unashamedly about creating a strong, toned and flexible body. The sense of peace may happen after class, knowing it is done!

There it is, in a nutshell, the difference between yoga and pilates. Both are amazing and, of course, I do recommend both as they compliment each other beautifully.

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