‘‘Change Happens through Movement and Movement Heals” – Joseph Pilates
Or should that be Pilates v. Yoga?
It’s a controversial topic, I know. There are yoga lovers, and Pilates lovers, but can yoga lovers do Pilates? And what would they get from Pilates, anyway? Why would Pilates people do yoga? And what’s the difference anyway?!
This is my take on it – I’m going to let you know my bias straight up. I’m a yoga person. I flipping love doing yoga, because it makes me feel amazing, I just get a big inner and outer grin from doing yoga. So this whole post is full of my slant.
I write this as a challenge to the Pilates people – please write that post and send it in and we can publish your Pilates v. Yoga thoughts!
Love Your Core
The first thing is that I absolutely love core work. You may have noticed that our ‘Core Strength’ section was one of the first on the site. This is no accident. I love the feeling of having a strong core, and I totally believe that when your core is strong, you’re less prone to injury and you have a stronger practice not only in yoga, but in the whole of life.
The use of my core is absolutely integral to my yoga practice, especially for my kind of body, which is the naturally stretchy kind. And if I’m not careful, I will ‘flop’ into yoga poses, which can look impressive but I know I’m not using my strength, I’m just hanging off ligaments, which is frankly dangerous.
So a body like mine needs strengthening work. I used to go to Pilates classes, and I found them an awesome compliment to my yoga. Many yoga classes, especially if taught a tad sloppily, or if I’m just left to my own devises doing yoga without a teacher, can focus on too much flexibility and not ‘activate’ the right muscles, or activate the feel, or activate those things which will protect the body during yoga.
Here are my thoughts on the benefits of each:
Benefits of Yoga:
- Calms the nervous system
- Deep yoga breath calming and soothing, great for stress and anxiety
- Increases flexibility
- Increases happiness!
I think that yoga has a more holistic effect on the body and mind. It combines different forms of breathing, which seem to do magic to the nervous system, calming and teaching us to combat anxiety.
Benefits of Pilates:
- Improves posture
- A long, lean silhouette and toned muscles
- Focused, targeted exercises
- Focus on core strength
- Improved strength and flexibility
Those who love Pilates love the very clear and quick benefits it produces. Because the exercises are generally small, repeated exercises, it seems to hit where it needs to quickly. So if you want to cut out the generality, the spirituality, the looking deep inside part – maybe give Pilates a go.
I used to do Pilates regularly. But then I discovered Forrest Yoga – and to be honest, when I discovered Forrest, it was my ‘aha’ moment. That, finally was a type of yoga that spoke to my stress-filled modern-day sedentary body.
Forrest Yoga is a form of Hatha Yoga devised by extraordinary woman, Ana Forrest. She found poses, breathing practices and ways of practicing poses which worked for modern day and stressed bodies. Forrest Yoga is all about strong abdominals. I find the abs work often stronger than in some Pilates classes.
Release Tension yet Strengthen
But the focus is also of course on breath-work, and different styles of breath to strengthen the abs as well. As well as magical work in releasing and relaxing the neck and shoulders. I find that some Pilates classes can cause tension to build in the jaw and that life in general, and even many yoga poses, can cause tension in the neck. Forrest yoga is full of amazing techniques for meeting you there.
As for strengthening, I’ve found no other yoga practice like it! You want strong torso, shoulders, arms, legs – you name it? It’s the practice for you. Floppy, sloppy mobile folks like me have to work for real! Forrest is also a ‘proper’ yoga class, with all the intentions, spirituality and Om’s, which make us feel so amazing, skillfully wound into the practice.
So I came into this article with a Yoga vs. Pilates debate – and ended it by saying, do both. If you have a short amount of time and want to work-out, do Pilates. If you want to do a more therapeutic practice and work-inwards, do Yoga. Do everything that works for you. And try both! We’re working to get more Pilates classes on here to give you that choice. But mostly, do Forrest yoga. If you’re anything like me, it’ll change your life.
This is such a co-incidence – just yesterday I passed a stall outside the station where you could donate some pennies to a fitness-related cause (I didn’t even bother to see what that was!) and in return you could pick up a couple of magazines for free. I picked up one on yoga, and one on pilates, both published by “Health & Fitness Magazine” – with the intention of comparing the two!!
Like you, I love yoga simply because it makes me feel wonderful, and its benefits are all-encompassing – both physically and psychologically. I recognise pilates as being “a good thing” for me because I naturally have weak core muscles which need regular attention – but find pilates classes such hard work!!
I first discovered yoga in 2001, and later came across pilates in 2003. At that time I was in my early twenties, and so pilates’ claims it would increase the aesthetic appeal of my body were an attraction; but ultimately I decided yoga was the exercise for me, because it feels fantastic and because it is so endlessly fascinating. And now I am in my late thirties I don’t really care about what I look like, anyway – it’s all about how I feel!
Interestingly, I think that yoga’s standing poses have done more for my core than pilates-style floor exercises would have done – because I feel that lifting the arches of the feet are somehow parallel with lifting the pelvic floor (the mula bandha with pada bandha!) I don’t know – that perspective seems to work for me, at any rate!
I agree with everything you’ve said on the subject, by the way! (I am unfamiliar with Forrest yoga, though – and so I intend to give it a go!)
Lots of love,
Hi Melisa, So lovely to hear from you and wow! That IS a coincidence! So interested to hear what you have to say about yoga’s standing poses strengthening your core! With love x x x
I am so glad you’re including Pilates, but especially with such a great teacher. She’s wonderful — can we have more, please?
I still love the Yoga — especially the gorgeous Jean Hall and the super effective Forrest yoga — and will do it alongside the Pilates.
Thank you. MFML is such an important part of my day.
How lovely to hear that you’re enjoying MFML and Antonia’s Pilates in particular. We have one more class to bring out in the current series and we are certainly looking to build up the Pilates section on the site. Thanks for the feedback!
Team MFML x x x