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Yoga and Pilates: What makes them Different?

Yoga and Pilates: What makes them Different?

On the surface, Yoga and Pilates are two very similar forms of exercise. Both involve a series of postures designed to strengthen the body and the mind.

Yet practitioners will tell you there are several subtle but important differences between Yoga and Pilates. One difference is age. The origins of Yoga can be traced back to ancient Indian philosophy. Its name is derived from a Sanskrit word meaning union, and Yoga’s ultimate goal is to bring into union the body, the mind, and the spirit.

Pilates, on the other hand, was developed by Joseph Pilates during World War I as a method of exercise to help paralyzed soldiers. Pilates drew upon the ancient principles of Yoga, especially the different postures, and his plan emphasized the connection between the body and the mind, but the spirit was not as much a part of his equation.

Another difference between Yoga and Pilates lies in the equipment used. Aside from supports, such as pillows and mats, Yoga does not use exercise equipment per se. The different postures use the body itself as resistance. Pilates uses mat work as well, but it also incorporates the use of exercise machines.

Yoga and Pilates

A final difference between Yoga and Pilates is that Yoga utilizes over 200 different asanas (postures) designed to bring body, mind, and spirit into harmony. In addition to the physical exercise, Yoga also focuses on breathing and meditation, again designed to bring the flow of energy through the body into alignment. Many people who do Yoga are merely seeking a form of exercise, but many more turn to Yoga for inner peace, for a way to find tranquility amidst the insanity of every day life.

Pilates, on the other hand, focuses far more on the physical aspects. Its main goals are to strengthen the abdominal muscles, improve posture, and stabilize and lengthen the spine. In other words, it helps to make the body longer and leaner. Long before Pilates became popular with the general public, dancers used it to tone their bodies.

Many people believe that Pilates is focused on how one looks, whereas Yoga is about how one feels.

This said, Yoga and Pilates are both valuable forms of exercise and discipline for the mind and body. They are different in their approaches, but it is not fair to say that one is better than the other. Individuals trying to decide between the two should evaluate their own goals and decide which program best meets their individual needs.


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