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Which is best for me - Yoga or Pilates?

April 27, 2019



Yoga means 'Union'  in Sanskrit - the union of the mind, body and spirit.


Yoga is an system of physical, mental and spiritual practices from ancient India and involves breathing techniques, exercise and meditation. It is a disciplined method of attaining a goal through the technique of controlling the body and the mind through physical exercise and deep meditation.


There are many versions of Yoga:


Hathayoga (physical body exercise)

Rajayoga (mental and physical exercise)  

Vinyasa, Ashtanga and Bikram Yoga - a modern version of Yoga.

Hot yoga done in a very hot atmosphere and

Power Yoga that builds physical as well as mental strength.


All yoga movements consists of posture or Asana and are done in a flowing movement so that one Asana leads into another. A good example of the flowing movement of yoga is the Sun Salutation (Suryanamaskar) shown in the picture above.


Yoga is considered spiritual, physical and mental practice that can take many years of practice to achieve perfection






Joseph Pilates (pictured above) created his system of 34 exercises through his method of Contrology in the 1920's whilst being interned on the Isle of Man during the First World War. Pilates was a very fit man who used his knowledge of martial arts, anatomy, self defence and boxing skills to create his exercises for the very sick patients at the Hospital at Knockaloe in the Isle of Man. The exercises are designed to be done by his patients in the sitting position or lying down using a system of springs and pulleys from the hospital bed frames.


In the picture above - Joseph Pilates is demonstrating  some of his exercises -Tthe Roll Up, Rolling Back, Single Leg Kick, Leg Circle, Swan Dive, Spine Twist, The Saw, The Shoulder Bridge and the Single Leg Stretch.


It was when Pilates took his Method of Contrology to New York that he invented the Pilates Reformer machine as well as the Pilates Magic Circle. When  the Pilates method arrived in the UK in 1970's it was converted to mat Pilates by one of Pilates disciples - Alan Hardman.


Pilates exercises are performed in repetitions that are increased as the body becomes stronger, more flexible and usually performed in a sequence so that every part of the body is exercised. The exercises are planned to suit the level of the class, ages, abilities and individual conditions.


Joseph Pilates was  a great believer in the importance of breath in driving the 'Powerhouse' - the central core of the body. He also was very conscious of how posture affected the spine and the internal organs.


Pilates did study some Yoga as well as Greek methods of exercises as well as watching animals in the wild so perhaps some of his exercises may reflect some  of the Yoga Asanas.




Yoga and Pilates compliment each other very well and provide whole mental and physical well - being.


Yoga is an ancient system of exercise creating a union of the mind, body and spirit that can help alleviate anxiety, stress and worry through breathing techniques. The flowing movements and the holding of the postures increase strength and flexibility.  


The goal being attaining spiritual, physical and mental union.


Pilates is a post rehabilitation system of exercise that rebuilds and strengthens the body after injury or  from simple wear and tear due to age. The exercises are specifically designed to rebuild muscle,  re-align the skeleton, improve posture and balance.  There is flow to the movements but through repetition and transition from one exercise to another. Breathe is important but more to provide power to the lungs to provide oxygen to do the exercises.


Pilates goal is to rebuild the body by improving inner strength, improve posture and re-align the bones, muscles and ligaments.











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