If you’ve never done Pilates or yoga, it’s hard to know which is which. According to Gaby Noble, a leading Pilates expert and founder of Exhale Pilates London, put simply, “Yoga is more about spirituality and breath, whereas Pilates focuses on mindful movement and strength.” Speaking to Cosmopolitan, Noble added, “They both incorporate the powerful combination of body, mind and soul though.” In other words, it’s completely understandable if you’re confused.
According to Jill Simpson, founder of yoga, Pilates, ballet, and barre studio Ebb&Flow, “the biggest difference between the two is the emphasis on the spiritual side in yoga classes” (via Harper’s Bazaar). As yoga teacher Zoe Bertali explained to Harper’s Bazaar, “Yoga is an integrated health management system using breath, movement and meditation to unite mind, body and spirit. It also incorporates elements of philosophy, science and an ethical way of living.” In terms of classes, there are a variety of different types to choose from, such as restorative, which focuses on stretching and relaxation, or vinyasa, which is a brisk flow uniting breath and movement.
Yoga focuses on flexibility and spirituality, while Pilates focuses on strength
Pilates places a huge emphasis on strength. “Joseph Pilates, a German anatomist, created this system of exercise in the early 20th century to strengthen, stretch and create balance in the body,” Amy Nelms, founder of Flatiron Pilates in New York City, told Net-a-Porter. As Sonja Herbert, a Pilates instructor and founder of Black Girl Pilates, explained to Self, Pilates is a “full-body exercise method,” that “strengthens and stabilizes your core body, which is your foundation, so that you can move efficiently while improving your posture, flexibility, and mobility.” In terms of classes, there are generally only two different varieties, reformer Pilates, which uses an apparatus called a reformer, or mat pilates, which is, well, on mats.
Ultimately, both Pilates and yoga are low-impact forms of exercise that are beneficial to your wellness. Offering slightly different benefits, if you’re trying to choose between the two, try both and see which speaks to your body and mind.
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