Yoga versus Pilates

I have often been asked what the difference is between Yoga and Pilates?

In the past I would have given you a technical answer.  Such as “more stretching in Yoga more core in Pilates”. This was based on reading, because I am embarrassed to say that up until this week I had never done Yoga before! This week that changed and I went to Yoga with Lindsey.

Like any industry the fitness industry has its rivalries. Yoga and Pilates are no different.

I once read a comment on Facebook from a Yoga friend saying that “Pilates is a Yoga rip off” (Ouch!). However, having now experienced the two I can honestly say they are different, in a good way, and neither is ripping the other off.

Yes, there are exercises that are similar, but each discipline has its own aims and way of teaching. So, although they may look different, they can feel miles apart and work different muscles.

What struck me as different during my yoga class was that the start was slower allowing much more time to settle into the body, and notice any nuances. Whereas during my Pilates classes I do more of a traditional warm up.

During Pilates I often offer options so either do this exercise or this slightly easier one. Whereas during my yoga class there was much more a sense of going with what you found in your body. This could lead quite different movements from one person to the next, but this was acceptable to Lindsey and safe for the participant.

During Lindsey’s yoga class there were a few sequences of movements which were elegant and aimed to stretch out certain areas of the body.  Once you get to know some of these, I imagine them to bring a sense of peace and familiarity. In some Pilates classes sequences are used but I tend to have stand alone exercises.

Major difference…. I cannot get my heels on the floor while doing downward dog! Whereas Lindsey can do this with ease, with practice I am sure I would get better, but my hamstrings were on fire!

There is more flexibility in Yoga than Pilates. However, I did not feel that I had to be really flexible to do Yoga. This had been one of my fears about doing yoga, I thought I would look silly with my tight hamstrings. However, Lindsey offered manageable options for the stiffies like me.

In my Pilates classes there is much more direct focus on the core. However, you are still working your core in Yoga, due to balancing and holding positions.

Lindsey said to me “The shapes, and how they look are not in my eyes, all that important, it is how they feel that counts”.

In Pilates it is where your feel the exercise working that is important to me not how far you move a limb or body part. So in this way both the way I teach and Lindsey teaches are very similar. It’s what you feel not what you look like when you are doing it.

I really enjoyed my Yoga class, and can see how the mind and body benefits. I definitely felt I had worked!

You don’t have to choose between Yoga and Pilates, many people do both. In each class type, even if the exercise looks similar you will be directed as to how to carry it out and this can change the feel and focus of the exercise.

I love teaching Pilates and am not about to jump ship! (my hamstrings breath a sigh of relief!) but my experience gave me confidence that I can do yoga, it is enjoyable so would not hesitate to take a class in the future. 

To contact Yoga Lindsey e-mail lindseygscott@btinternet.com

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