Pilates vs. Yoga: Similarities & Differences

Many of the exercises you’ll see in a Pilates workout are inspired by yoga, and the postures in yoga are incredibly similar to the shapes and positions used in Pilates exercises. At the same time, there are exercises that are completely unique to Pilates as well as those that are specific to yoga class alone. A major difference is that in yoga, one generally holds each pose for a longer period of time, while in Pilates, you move at a slightly faster pace. Rather than holding a pose longer the way you would in a typical yoga class, staying in one position and cajoling the body into stretching more deeply through the breath, in Pilates, the practitioner dynamically extends as far as possible within a limited amount of time using resistance, core awareness and breath.

Here are some additional similarities between yoga and Pilates.

  • Both are considered mind-body forms of exercise, intended to cultivate greater awareness and connection between the body and the mind.
  • Both tend to focus on the “journey” of moving, rather than the end goal, which can be anything from a stronger, well-toned body to peace of mind.
  • Both encourage you to focus on the present moment and the movement itself rather than the outcome.
  • Both mat-based programs tone and condition the muscles using body weight as a natural resistance tool. Pilates, however, does have the option to incorporate machines or “apparatus” to perform exercises.
  • Both need little more than a sticky mat to be performed. Yoga also incorporates simple props used to enhance comfort and form (such as blocks, cushions and straps). Some Pilates mat exercises use props that can either increase the challenge (by adding resistance) or aid in form, such as the magic circle (a resistance ring), inflated balls, or resistance bands.
  • Both improve circulation and highly oxygenate the system.

A Few Key Differences between Yoga & Pilates

  • Yoga concentrates mostly on increasing strength and flexibility of the spine and limbs; Pilates focuses on building abdominal strength first, and then symmetrical musculature as well as overall flexibility.
  • In Pilates, every movement emanates from the center (core) and extending through the limbs. In yoga, it is the concentration on the breath, first, then focusing on deepening a pose.
  • In yoga, the primary goal (aside from proper alignment in the poses), is to stay connected to the breath; in Pilates, the first order of business is the precision of movement, and then, the coordination of that movement with the breath.
  • The breathing patterns are different in both. In yoga, for the bulk of the asana practice, the breath is either ujjayi, a smooth, heat-inducing breath that sounds like the ocean, or kapalabhati, a rapid breath that creates greater internal heat. In Pilates, the breath for most exercises is a slow, controlled, diaphragmatic breath, but a few exercises use a rapid, staccato-like breath (similar to kapalabhati breathing in yoga).
  • In Pilates, most of the exercises are performed lying down, either prone (on the stomach), supine (on the back), or side-lying. These movements aim to defy gravity the entire time, engaging the abdominal center in order to lift up from the ground to lengthen muscles. In yoga, most of the poses are done standing, and work with gravity by rooting down into the earth in order to lengthen the body away from the floor (with the exception of arm balances and inversions where one tries to defy gravity). Note that in yoga, there are a number of poses done on the floor as well, such as seated forward bends, twists, bow pose, and plow, and in Pilates, there is also standing series, such as the sculpting series or exercises that integrate the magic circle prop.

Excerpt from What’s the Difference Between Yoga and Pilates?

By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger, – Jennifer Kries, Yoga and Pilates Expert

8/17/2012

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