Pilates or Yoga- which is best for you?

Pilates or Yoga – which is best for you?


If I had a pound for each person who asked “what’s the difference between yoga and Pilates?”, I’d be rich. But it’s a very interesting question. Both forms of exercise are based upon the core principles of health, fitness and wellbeing, and they both focus on the body (e.g. breathing, posture) and the mind (e.g. mental clarity, stress relief).


However, there are a number of differences between the two practices which will help you decide which is best for you. So if you’re looking to try a new exercise class this Autumn, read on!


The origins


Yoga is by far the oldest practice, originating some 5,000 years ago in South East Asia. Yoga comprises various different branches, focusing on elements such as wisdom and knowledge, meditation, selfless action, and ensuring correct postures for optimal wellbeing.


I suppose you could say Pilates is an evolution of traditional yoga, having (only!) been around for 100 years. It was developed by Josef Pilates in Germany as a form of rehabilitation, as well conditioning of the body and mind. So if you’re specifically looking for a rehabilitative or conditioning exercise programme, Pilates could be for you.


The class


Take a breath. While awareness of breathing patterns is a really important part of both classes, you will find that most yoga sessions devote a portion of the time to focus on breathing alone. On the other hand, with Pilates, once you’ve mastered the basic principle of breathing in through your nose and out from your mouth, you can then apply this practice throughout the session while focusing on other exercises.


Stretch it out. While yoga focuses on static stretching – which involves holding your posture in an optimum position to strengthen particular muscle groups – Pilates generally tends to focus on dynamic stretching, using controlled movements to stretch out your muscles.


Be fully equipped. Yoga and Pilates sessions often take place on mats, but in Pilates you can also use specially designed machines using springs to resist, and also assist, the user. At mytime, we are fortunate to have a range of specialist equipment including a reformer, trapeze table, chair and barrel. Other apparatus includes magic circles, weights, and resistance bands. In yoga, props such as straps, blocks and bricks are particularly helpful for beginners.


Benefits for mental wellbeing


Pilates and yoga both recognise that your mind and body are connected and that one effects the other. Whereas Pilates could be considered a more concrete or earthly approach, focusing simply on the mind and body, yoga takes this one step further by considering how a third element – the spirit – intertwines with the mind and body. Therefore, if you’re particularly interested in spiritual awareness and meditation, yoga could be good for you.


Benefits for physical wellbeing


Yoga and Pilates are both great for strength and flexibility, with Pilates focussing on specific processes to maintain or restore fitness levels, such as aligning the spine or strengthening your core. So if these are areas you think need attention, pop along to one of our classes and see how we can help. Meanwhile, yoga is great if you wish to focus on a broader set of muscle groups or improve your balance.


Whether you chose yoga or Pilates really depends on your own individual preferences and fitness goals, but if you’re still unsure, pop along to one of our “Yoga Infused by Pilates” retreats, which include a full-day schedule of Pilates and Yoga so you can experience a bit of both!


Our guest teacher Emily, from Kingdom Yoga, provides a taster yoga and meditation session that combines invigorating and focused training with deep, slow and recuperative practices. Meanwhile, our Pilates taster sessions include dynamic Pilates, using our brand new bars; an equipment session; and a traditional mat class.

Naomi’s Kitchen also cooks up a treat with vegan dishes such as falafels, quinoa tabouleh, beetroot hummus, and babaganoush. And just to tempt you even more, we finish with vegan chocolate brownies, homemade organic raw chocolates and a matcha latte.


October’s retreat has already sold out, but if you are interested in trying out a fusion of Yoga and Pilates, please give us your details and we can let you know when the next retreat is coming up!