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Tired of your old exercise routine? Want to get leaner and more flexible? Or perhaps you're feeling overwhelmed by stress? Yoga and Pilates might be the answer. They work both your mind and body, leading to better health. Think of them as a natural way to bust stress, keep your joints flexible, and improve overall fitness.
Despite their similarities, Pilates and yoga are not one and the same. Let's see how they differ and why they’re so great for your health:
Yoga vs. Pilates: What's the Difference?
In 2016, more than 36.7 million Americans were practicing yoga. Some do it for stress relief. Some want to improve their health and well-being. Others see it as a way to keep fit. This discipline has been around for over 5,000 years. Yet, it's just as popular today as it was centuries ago.
Yoga emphasizes the mind-body connection. It has evolved over the years into different styles, such as Bikram, Hatha, and Ashtanga. Each type of yoga has unique characteristics. Their end goal is to increase body awareness while improving emotional and spiritual health.
According to science, yoga may relieve back pain, lower blood pressure, and improve cardiovascular health. Moreover, it relieves depression and anxiety. Practitioners also report increased mental clarity and work performance.
Unlike yoga, Pilates is a relatively new discipline. It was developed in the 1920s by Joseph Pilates. Initially, it was used for physical rehab. Today, people practice it to stay strong and flexible, lose weight, and improve their fitness level.
Pilates exercises emphasize core strength. They also stretch and strengthen your muscles while enhancing your balance.
Compared to yoga, this discipline focuses more on building flexibility and strength, and less on the mental aspect. When practiced regularly, it helps develop a strong core, improves your posture, and gives your body more flexibility. Just like any exercise, it wards off stress and calms your mind.
Another difference between the two is how the exercises are performed. Yoga is largely based on standing poses, while Pilates involves mat work. Additionally, Pilates classes are more structured. Each workout consists of specific exercises, with a specific number of reps and sets. Yoga gives you more freedom and can be practiced anywhere.
What Are the Benefits
Who says you have to choose between yoga and Pilates? Both disciplines benefit your mind and body. The key is to be consistent and stick to your routine. Regardless of what you choose, you'll gain strength and endurance, improve your range of motion, and enjoy better health.
These disciplines complement each other. The flexibility you will gain from Yoga will enable you to move better in Pilates. Strengthening your core muscles during Pilates classes will boost your flexibility and balance in yoga. On top of that, both practices promote spiritual well-being and distract you from daily worries.
What if you want to lose weight? At first sight, Pilates might seem a better choice. After all, it provides a full body workout and helps build lean muscle, which in turn, boosts your metabolism. Depending on your weight and fitness level, you'll burn up to 336 calories per hour during a typical Pilates class.
However, yoga is just as beneficial. As we have mentioned earlier, this discipline has many different forms. Some are more intense than others.
Bikram or hot yoga, for instance, will leave you drenched in sweat and get your heart rate through the roof. It involves 26 poses that must be performed in a room heated at 105 degrees. A typical session lasts for 90 minutes and torches up to 716 calories.
Ashtanga and Vinyasa yoga are ideal for weight loss too. Due to their intense nature, they raise your heart rate, increase muscle strength, and boost physical endurance. The best part is that you can work out anytime, anywhere. Unlike Pilates, yoga doesn’t require special equipment. You can exercise at home, on the beach, or in hotel rooms.
Furthermore, research shows that yoga improves self-esteem and body image, increases mindfulness, and soothes mental tension. It also boosts functional fitness, making daily activities easier.
In a study conducted on sedentary individuals, those who practiced yoga twice a week for eight weeks experience major improvements in muscle strength, flexibility, and endurance. Other studies have found that yoga may lower the risk of heart disease and regulate blood sugar levels.
As you see, both disciplines promote health and well-being. Getting started is the hardest part, especially for newbies. Depending on your budget and preferences, you have several options:
Ideally, start to exercise at home. This way, you can figure out which discipline best suits your needs.
Pilates, for instance, has exercises for beginners, intermediate, and advanced practitioners. There are hundreds of videos online, which you can use to learn good form. Eventually, you can take a class or two at a Pilates studio to develop your skills even further.
Begin with simple exercises to build up your strength and endurance. As you progress, try more advanced workouts. The same goes for yoga. Most asanas (yoga poses) can be easily customized to your fitness level. Some are perfect for beginners, while other involves greater balance and strength. To start, experiment with basic poses, such as:
Don’t worry that you're not flexible or strong enough to practice yoga. You do yoga and then you become strong and flexible. Everyone has to start somewhere. The more you practice, the better you'll be. Just make sure you don’t go overboard. 15-30 minutes of yoga or Pilates are more than enough for beginners.
So, are you ready to give it a try? Combine yoga with Pilates to build a strong mind and body! The benefits are immediate.
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