It's very common to think of Yoga and Pilates as one in the same, but these two activities are very different! The best way to discover which is best for you is to do a bit of research on each and then decide if you want to go to a tester class. Here's a little bit of information on both to get you started:
The practice of Yoga began over 5,000 years ago in India and has evolved since then to include many different types.
Slightly newer, Pilates began in the mid-20th century by athlete Joseph Pilates to help with rehabilitation and strengthening.
Mind, Body Spirit
Mind, body and spirit are very much apart of this exercise. Meditation plays a strong role in these classes, emphasizing on a mind/ body/ spirit balance. This practice has been proven to reduce stress levels even after one session, as well as help reduce hot flashes.
Pilates has more of a focus on understanding how the body and mind are connected and how this can help in everyday life. There is a strong focus on abdominal muscles, using the core for every movement. This is great for enhancing posture and agility.
You will workout each muscle equally. Each posture is followed by a counter-posture to make sure you are creating balance in your body. While core strengthening is important, it is not a focus, instead the core principles are proper breathing, positive thinking, and relaxation.
You'll get a full body workout with a focus on aligning the spine and strengthening the core. Each class is about control, centering, concentration, precision, flow and breathing. This can be great for runners who could see an improvement in their balance. Research also states that because of the posture correcting focus, this can help correct imbalances and improve body alignment, making movement more efficient and reducing the chance of injury.
Concentration & Breathing
Breathing during Yoga is taken to a very deep level. It's all about the flow of energy, deep breaths match each movement and posture. Some classes will even dedicate time to breathing exercises. Concentration is centered on your spirit and meditation is used to bring mind and body together.
During these classes you are told to inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth. The idea is to create an understanding that the mind and body are connected. Unlike Yoga, there is no exploration of spirituality.
If one of your goals is to improve your flexibility then Yoga is something you must try. Each movement helps to increase joint flexibility. This is great for runners because it can help over stressed and shortened muscles heal faster. It can also help with hips, knees, ankles, quads, hamstrings, and calves.
There is more emphasis on core strength than flexibility, but if you're dedicated, you can integrate stretches into your routine. While you may not improve flexibility, you will strengthen your back, arms, inner thighs and glutes.
On average, one hour of Yoga (depending on the style) will burn anywhere from 200-630 calories.
On average, one hour of Pilates will burn 270 - 460 calories depending on whether you are a beginner or advanced.
Many classes have flexible routines. What postures and movements you do will most likely depend on the instructor. Most classes also include an element of meditation or chant bringing in the spiritual element.
These classes can be a bit more structured, and in most cases you will know what to expect in the next class.
Which is right for you?
If you'd like more of a spiritual experience, wanting to better manage stress or generally feel more relaxed than Yoga might be more you. Gain strength, flexibility in free-flow exercises that help find overall balance in life.
If your priority is more on core strength, then Pilates may be for you. Pilates can help dancers and athletes improve their game, and help prevent injuries. It can also help you get those flat abs!
If you're still not sure, try a tester class! Most will offer your first class at a discounted price or even for free. What do you have to lose?