Pilates vs Yoga – which is best for me?

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Firstly it’s important to note that you don’t need to choose between Pilates and yoga… you can do both! But if you were going to choose, Kylie Pearsall shares her tips on how to go about it.

Pilates is a form of training that focusses on alignment, core control and breathing. Specifically, Pilates:

  • Is a form of exercise with a strong focus on alignment, breath and core control. The mind body element comes from concentrating on where you’re putting what, contracting the right muscles as you do the activity and breathing while you do it- it’s multitasking at its best.
  • Is a form of strengthening with elements of flexibility.
  • Can be done in a general class environment, where everyone is doing the same thing or individually tailored to you.
  • Can be with little or no equipment, like mat Pilates or on machines, reformer classes or a full studio environment.
  • A 20th century form of exercise, unlike yoga.

Yoga has been around for thousands of years. As a form of exercise, it is a modern interpretation of a system of movements that were designed to allow you to sit for longer periods in meditation to work towards enlightenment. In our western modern society, yoga is:

  • A form of exercise, mostly based around flexibility with strengthening practices, depending on the style of yoga you choose. There are so many that it can be overwhelming for the yoga virgin- hot, bikram, vinyasa, ashtanga, iyengar, hatha, yin and some studios have their own names for the styles they offer.
  • Yoga is primarily delivered in class format, everyone doing the same thing at the same time (or trying to!) and in specialised rooms on a mat. There are sometimes props in yoga like blocks or bolsters or the use of straps to assist you into the shapes you’re making.

I want to work on strength and toning- which one should I do?

Pilates just edges out yoga in the strengthening department if it’s being done with the added resistance provided by the equipment.

I need to be more flexible and de-stress- which one?

Yoga with the added philosophical and spiritual elements. Look for a slower style of yoga practice like yin or hatha to really target flexibility.

Or just do both – why choose when you can have it all?

Kylie Pearsall is an all-round wellness guru – Physiotherapist, PGC Continence and Pelvic Floor Rehabilitation Specialist, Certified Rehabilitation Pilates Practitioner, Registered Fitness Professional, Vinyasa Power Yoga Teacher…. Yes, she knows her stuff!