This is a reprint of a post written by fellow exercise and massage therapists, Julie. From time to time, my friend Julie Klutinoty shares some of her experience and expertise with us. Today, she is examining the differences between Pilates and Yoga.
As a Certified Pilates and Yoga Teacher for over 30 years, one of the most common questions I find myself answering is, “What is the difference between Yoga and Pilates?”
In my previous article, I gave a brief description of Pilates and how it stands in our culture today. It was created in the early 1920’s by Joseph Pilates and is a mind, body technique. Its’ benefits are synonymous to a strong, vital body. When performing pilates, there is a strong focus on the breath and linking it to the body through movement. In pilates, origination, and quality of movement while utilizing the breath as fuel, are paramount.
One of the biggest differences between yoga and pilates is that pilates utilizes highly specialized equipment designed by Joseph Pilates, himself.
Yoga, on the other hand, has been in existence for over five thousand years! It began in India and there are many branches and varieties of yoga. The meaning of the word ‘yoga’ translates to ‘union’, as the practice of yoga is a mind, body practice, also. In yoga, the focus is primarily on witnessing the modifications of the mind. Breathing and Self-awareness are goals throughout the various styles of yoga. It is the ‘practice’ of yoga, as a whole, which leads one to a particular path… a lifestyle.
How do the benefits compare? While yoga and pilates are mind, body practices, Pilates is primarily a movement-based technique. Initially, a breathing technique is emphasized and focused upon, with students progressing into various levels of movements incorporating the breath. All movements initiate from the center, core, of the body while strengthening and balancing the body. Fundamentals of the Pilates Technique are introduced on the mat, then depending on the goals, participants move through a series of exercise progressions using unique ‘spring loaded’ equipment. Core strength, balance, spinal alignment, flexibility, and focus are just a few of the benefits the Pilates Technique offers. In fact, in recent studies, Pilates has been known to increase bone density.
Yoga benefits can vary depending on the style of yoga practiced. Most styles of yoga find their focus on the breath. Benefits can range from relieving stress and anxiety, increased strength and flexibility, as well as lowering blood pressure. Though in the ‘west’, the physical practice of yoga (Asana)and meditation are well known, there are other aspects and varieties of yoga which are not so common. One of these unique styles of yoga which is coming forward is Yoga Nidra.
Yoga Nidra is a practice where participants lay supine on yoga mats while being guided into a meditative state, trying not to fall asleep! Positive affirmations are used to invoke a particular state or desired outcome such as stress reduction. This particular style of yoga has even been known to reduce blood sugar and to remedy sleep disorders.
Both yoga and pilates are excellent for digestion and circulation and the list goes on. As a practitioner of both, I’ve found the two modalities enhance one another. My pilates practice opens me and gives me the tools to move forward in my yoga practice. My yoga practice has offered me insights and has allowed me to go deeper into my Pilates practice. Regardless of your level, each offers a safe place to start.
Being clear on what you want and setting your intention before you step into either, will guide you to success.
Julie Klutinoty for