Yoga and Pilates might look similar, but they actually have very different origins, aims, and methods. Both Pilates and yoga can help to improve your strength and flexibility, but they work on the various parts of your body in subtly different ways. In addition to the physical benefits, certain types of yoga can also help with mental relaxation and focus. Learn a little about the advantages and disadvantages of both yoga and Pilates before you decide which one is right for you.
Pilates primarily focuses on the muscles in your tummy and pelvis, which are often referred to as the “core” of the body. Pilates exercises help you find and learn to use these muscles, which play a vital role in supporting the spine during daily life. Regularly practicing Pilates is one of the best things you can do to improve the strength of your core, which brings benefits such as improved posture, a lower risk of back problems, and a beautifully toned tummy. Yoga also uses the core muscles and encourages good posture, but this is not the main focus of the class. Even a short Pilates course, such as this Real Pilates 7 Day Core Strength and Stamina Transformation, can make a difference to the strength of your core.
Yoga can make a big difference to your flexibility. By using deep breathing to help you move deeper into stretching poses, yoga gently persuades tight muscles to release their tension and relax. Common yoga poses such as downward-facing dog and forward fold are great for anyone with tight hamstrings, while a regular yoga practice can allow you to move towards advanced poses such as deep back bends or full splits.
Yoga is closely linked to meditation, which has long been known as a way of relaxing the mind and improving concentration. Yin yoga in particular calms the mind, releasing mental as well as physical tension as you move deeply into stretches. You can learn Yin yoga online with expert instructor Jennifer Kries in this Yin yoga online course.
Although Pilates does not offer the same meditative benefits as yoga, all forms of exercise are good for your mental health. Being active can raise the body’s level of endorphins – natural chemicals which contribute to a good mood.
If you are still not sure whether the mental health benefits of yoga could make a difference to your life, why not try this completely free Authentic Yoga Experience to see for yourself the benefits it could bring?