Yoga and Pilates are low impact activities, so does that mean they aren't as good for you as running or gym work? Not necessarily! Here's why:
Developed by Joseph Pilates as a form of rehabilitation for wounded soldiers after World War I, he brought his method to the United States in 1923 and spent years perfecting it. Pilates focus on small movements that require the use of important stabilizing muscles of the back and core.
You use your own body weight to provide resistance. This actually increases muscle strength and endurance, improves flexibility and posture, leads to better balance and results in decreased joint pain. Research studies have shown Pilates are beneficial to those suffering from arthritis, urinary incontinence, respiratory conditions, joint injuries and back pain.
The origins of Yoga are unknown, but it's been around for at least the last 3,000 years with roots in shamanism, Buddhism and other Eastern religions. Yoga is a form of mind-body fitness, with an emphasis on mindfulness and deep breathing. Though there are many different types, it brings awareness to the breath and energy. The benefits of yoga have been studied extensively, with positive effects for medical issues such as anxiety, depression, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, respiratory conditions, high blood pressure, chronic pain, and type 2 diabetes.
What's the difference?
Pilates is partly inspired by yoga, but is different in one key respect – yoga is made up of a series of static postures, while Pilates is based on putting yourself into unstable postures and challenging your body by moving your limbs.
Which is better?
That really depends on who you ask! Give both a try and see which one best suits you, you'll see physical and mental benefits in both.
Both are exceptionally good for your mental well-being, with yoga's breathing techniques enhancing inner focus and relaxation and Pilates' concentration distracting you from daily worries, you'll leave class feeling rejuvenated.
Which is easier?
This really depends on your goals, but it also depends on how much effort you put into it. In both exercises, you'll start on less challenging poses, then slowly work up to the more challenging ones. Like most activities, you'll only reep the benefits if you put some effort into it. It's important to give both a try because if you enjoy doing something, you'll naturally put more effort into it!
How flexible do I have to be?
Don't worry, you don't have to be! Everyone has to start somewhere, and the more you practice, the more flexible you'll become. In fact, a research study by the University of Wisconsin said eight weeks of yoga can improve flexibility by 13-35%.
Is it good for weight-loss?
In short, no. Studies have shown there was little to no fat loss during 6 months of Pilates or yoga training. If it's pure calorie burning you're after, than you'd be better off going for a run or lifting weights. That being said, Pilates and yoga can significantly decrease your risk of injury and have many other benefits including improving your flexibility. Both are also great for your overall mental well-being. You may find that you feel happier, less stressed and over all more relaxed, which may help you make better lifestyle choices.
Check out our Yoga & Pilates page for more information.