Yoga or Pilates?
Any fitness fanatic can tell you that stretching is an integral part of their fitness regime. No matter how good the warm up, how strong the cardio work, a lack of stretching can leave you stiff and aching and in danger of real injury, so its simply a vital element of any activity.
Some disciplines take this a step further. If you are new to yoga and pilates, you’d be forgiven for being confused by the differences. Which you decide to practice is a matter of what you want to achieve and which suits your exercise style best.
Yoga is an ancient system incorporating many different styles including ashtanga (hot) yoga, hatha and more and consists of several elements combined such as postures, breathing and movement. It is Indian in origin, thousands of years old which has long been absorbed into many cultures. Pilates is a much younger concept, designed by Joseph Pilates, a German therapist descended from gymnasts who designed the idea to help strengthen and balance soldiers as a kind of medicalised gymnastics.
Pilates is a discipline of intense focus and control, concentrating the body throughout each movement, focussing heavily n strengthening the core muscles and spine. Core strength is an almost overused term these days, a bit of a buzz word, but in actual fact the health aspects of maintaining good core work can’t be underestimated, as these important central muscles provide strength to the spine, back and legs as well as looking good in a bikini! Both yoga and pilates combine a spiritual approach to the body, with breathing exercises and a level of serenity to create a relaxed concentration. In yoga, breathing should be inhaled through the mouth and exhaled via the nose, in traditional pilates this is the other way round.
Classes do vary. Pilates is more likely to involve apparatus, although many classes are solely mat based, and yoga can be faster or slower, with an almost infinite variety of routines an sequences, so much depends on the class you choose and teach8inger you choose.
Yoga also often uses a chant to focus breathing and concentration, although not in all forms, and is often slightly more ‘free form’ than pilates which usually works best as a structured routine.
Both yoga and pilates are designed to increase muscle strength and flexibility, but again, pilates tends to focus on core control and spine alignment, making it very useful for those with core issues, back problems or problem ab areas. In yoga, every muscle should receive a work out and while core is still involved, it is more of a component than a focus. Each movement should have its opposite in order to create balance and work each area individually and as a whole.
Both yoga and pilates will provide strength, relaxation, and of course stretching, but which you prefer depends on whether you are looking for increased general fitness and relaxation, or a more concentrated routine to work on abdominals and core strength.
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