The history of Pilates is somewhat disputed. Some sources claim that Joseph Pilates developed the exercises during his time in an internment camp after World War I and others say he learned them from studying yoga and dance while living in Germany. There's also a camp who believe Pilates was actually derived from gymnastics as Pilates used to be only taught at men's gymnastic clubs! In any case, Pilates became popular worldwide by way of dancers who needed something to help their long hours on stage but also wanted more toned muscles.
Pilates is a low-impact exercise that can be done by people at any fitness level as Pilates classes typically modify exercises to fit each individual's needs and physical limitations. People often start Pilates because they want stronger core, more toned muscles, or relief from injuries/discomfort. Classes may incorporate equipment such as reformers or wunda chairs, or be more mat bases using props such as weights, bands, balls and straps.
Pilates tends to be more of a straight exercise class, with less focus on philosophy and only one style of breathing. In Pilates students mainly focus on breathing through their noses deep into the diaphragm and ribcage. This type of breathing helps them find balance within themselves and helps to exert effort in an exercise in the most efficient way.
Yoga on the other hand has been around for thousands of years and is rooted in Indian philosophy. Many yoga classes incorporate breathwork, philosophy, mantras, chanting and meditation into their sessions which some people find to be calming and spiritually fulfilling. In yoga students practice different pranayama or breathing exercises. Pranayama is a way to move the energy throughout your entire body - breaths tend to be slow and controlled with an emphasis on calming the nervous system rather than helping to perform an exercise.
There are many different styles of yoga, ranging from slower and quieter such as yin and restorative, through to vinyasa and power yoga incorporating handstands and arm-balances (and a whole lot in between). Whether you're looking to relax or to push yourself there are plenty of options, and it's all about finding the teacher and style that feels right for you!
Yoga focuses on achieving balance in body, mind and spirit through meditation sessions during class. This aspect sets it apart from Pilates which is purely an exercise program to increase muscle tone or improve core strength without the deeper meaning that many find within Yoga.
If you are still having trouble deciding between Pilates vs yoga, consider what your goals are! If you want a workout then Pilates may be better for you as well as if you have injuries or limitations in terms of movement. If you're looking to focus on breath work, mindfulness and want to connect to your spiritual side yoga might be the better choice for you.
Our Physiotherapists are fantastic at treating patients who practice both yoga and Pilates, and can help you either get back to the exercise you love or help guide you on your rehab plan. Check out our sister studio Stretch Yoga to find more about yoga classes nearby, or check out our Pilates timetable to see if some classes might be the right fit! Alternatively give us a call on 07 3706 3407. We'd love to help you get moving!