March 31, 2009

Yoga v. Pilates


Have you ever wondered what the difference is between yoga and pilates? I have done both, and even I couldn't really tell anyone what the difference was...so I did a little bit of googling. Here's what I found from an article written by fitness guru Kathy Smith.

Let's take yoga first. Yoga is based on the Eastern idea of moving energy through your body. The more freely the energy flows, the healthier and more energetic you feel. Physical tension hinders the flow; over time, areas of tension in your body can become tight and rigid, even painful. The goal of yoga is to keep the body supple through movement and stretching. But there's another dimension. Yoga is a holistic spiritual discipline with its roots in Eastern forms of meditation. The physical postures, although they condition the body, are really aimed at the mind. They symbolize the goal of living your life in a state of balance and composure. When I spend an hour in a yoga class, I melt into a kind of meditative state and emerge wonderfully relaxed and refreshed.
That's true...I love my yoga practice and won't miss a day. We are trying to figure out how to accommodate our new found obsession while traveling!

Pilates on the other hand is physical conditioning first and foremost -- and there's nothing quite like it. Its creator, Joseph Pilates, was looking for a way to rehabilitate injured soldiers after World War I. He developed an assortment of curious machines with names like the "Reformer" and the "Cadillac." Using cables and trolleys and unusual body positioning, Pilates exercises stretch and strengthen and are unique in their ability to encourage coordination between the muscles that stabilize the body.


Pilates techniques quickly became a hit with dancers, who found them a highly effective way to improve body awareness and alignment and promote graceful, fluid motion. Machine-based Pilates actually has more in common with weight training than with yoga since it involves moving against resistance (provided by springs) with the aim of overloading the muscles. In particular it resembles functional strength exercises such as squats or cable pulls. There's also a new form of Pilates, the Pilates mat class, which relies more on calisthenic-style exercises and stretches. This form is physically more similar to a yoga class though the emphasis is still on physical change rather than on spiritual development through postures and breathing.
Here is a picture of the Pilates machine that I purchased several years ago, and had quite a bit of success with it, actually. Until I hurt myself...not sure if the machine facilitated the injury, or just my own doing. I loaned it to a friend, who obviously didn't care for it either, because they returned it to exile in my garage. However, that is not to say that Pilates is not good, I just prefer the gentleness and mind connection that yoga provides.

So, there you have it - the question answered.

(Phew...one more question off my list!)

2 comments:

Ari C'rona said...

Tov meod! I agree, yoga is much more my style. :o)

Mole said...

Thanks, my informative friend. That machine looks scary. (My mat is rolled up, and my ball still deflated *sadness*.)