Yoga and Pilates, Which is the Better Workout for You?
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Yoga and Pilates are both great workout. Not only do I do them both but I love them both. I’m not sure I pick one over the other. I’ve only done a couple different types of Yoga so clearly my opinion is only based on what I’ve actually done. So if you’ve tried yoga or pilates or if you’ve thought about it but the couch was just a little more appealing to you then downward dog, I’ll give you a break down of each.
Let’s start with Yoga since it’s been around for about 5,000 years. I’m being literal there. It’s an ancient meditation practice dealing with the alignment of the body, mind and spirit. Strength and flexibility are a happy accident that comes from using your own body weight to hold the poses (no weights or gym memberships required).
Yoga also helps with mental health. It calms the sympathetic nervous system, helps reduce stress, and controls the hypothalamopituitary adrenal axis which controls hormone levels.
Yoga is great for so many things such as: flexibility, physical rehabilitation, muscle toning, improves respiration, energy, balances metabolism, weight reduction, cardio and circulatory health, and improves athletic performance.
There’s about 14 different types of yoga. Click here for a great at home Yoga DVD set!
So here’s a quick breakdown of each type:
Anusara: (Iyengar) which is the purest form of yoga with an added sense of humor. Instead of expecting the same from everyone the creator, John Friend created Anusara to be fun and welcoming. Students do what they can to the best of their ability.
Ashtanga: six very strenous pose sequences repeated with rapid movement and moving from one pose to the next with each inhale and exhale which is referred to as vinyasa.
Bikram: HOT!!!! you’re basically dying in a room with the temp around 105 degrees which sounds awful to me! Did I mention the 40% humidity? Just keeps getting worse. 26 moves performed twice. NOPE. Not for me.
Hatha: Your typical everyday modern version of yoga. Most of the DVD’s you see with all your favorite celebrities or infomercial’s, is Hatha. Standard breathing and yoga poses nothing crazy.
Iyengar: Purist yoga that uses props, blocks, straps, harnesses and incline boards to help get you into the perfect positions. Nicknamed “furniture yoga”.
Jivamukti: Physical and limit pushing practice. Brings in the spiritual elements with chanting.
Kripalu: 3 part practice for you to get to know, accept and learn from your body. Figuring out how your body works in different poses then moves into posture holds for an extended period with meditation.
Kundalini: Constant movement invigorating poses. The fluid movement is meant to release energy in your body.
Prenatal: For expecting mothers and after birth.
Restorative: less work more relaxation. Spending 20 minutes or more in 4 or 5 different poses. There’s pillows and blankets. So It’s just an excuse to take a nap with your friends.
Sivananda: Focusing on 12 basic moves with breathing techniques and incorporating your diet, exercise and relaxation to form the proper yogi lifestyle.
Viniyoga: it’s a form of individualized yoga that works with you to perfect yoga poses in your own time. It’s about getting flexible and strong
Vinyasa: athletic style of yoga from the late 80’s. Aerobic style yoga that incorporates yoga with body weight movements.
Yin: quiet and meditative. Focusing on lenghening.
Finally, there’s really no big equipment for Yoga just a few small pieces like straps, blocks and the yoga mat.
In my opinion, Mandy Ingber is one of the best yoga instructors. She is the creator of Yogalosophy and it focuses on using aerobic style workouts in between your poses so you flow from chair pose to squats. So all you need is a yoga mat. The mat I’ve used for a while now and love on my cement basement floor is Extra Thick Yoga Mat with No Stick Ridge.
Now continuing into Pilates! Yoga and pilates are similar in many ways. No doubt why you can google and find a million articles to the great debate yoga vs. pilates.
Joseph Pilates began this exercise program in the 1920’s for the purpose of rehabilitation to the soldiers coming home from the war. As time went by dancers began to pick up pilates to strengthen their bodies and healing any aches and pains.
Furthermore, it’s used to align the body, physical rehab and muscle toning for better posture and movement.
Pilates focuses on the core. So every move is about holding the core in and extending through your limbs for lengthening. There’s a lot more ab workout in pilates then yoga.
Another huge difference is the equipment that you can use in pilates. Although you don’t have to have any, the resistance of the pilates machines does go a long way.
Pilates Mat: Yoga and Pilates both use mats. Mats come in different thickness. I use the 3/4″ thick mat listed above.
Exercise Ball: they are rubber balls much like the ones we used in gym for dodge ball.
Pilates Ring: Used for resistance training to help increase muscles more so than flexibility.
Chair: Made to elevate the rear end above the legs to help with movement and stability
Pilates Machines:Beverly Hills Fitness Supreme Pilates Pro with Ballet Barre Toning Tower, Yoga Pad, and Dvd’s is by far my absolute FAVORITE! Also, I have owned this exact machine for a couple years now and it’s amazing. So it uses yoga, pilates and lastly, a barre routine! Furthermore, you get a great mixture of all three types of exercises and four, 15 minute dvd’s. It folds up nice and is a great piece of equipment.
Lastly, breathing techniques are important in both. Yoga and pilates both stress the importance of their breathing technique.
Pilates: provides muscles with the energy they need to exercise effectively. So it helps manage the quantity of oxygen coming into the body and traveling to the muscles to help them become more relaxed.
Yoga: breathing to help you relax, sending breath to the areas that may be tight or holding stress.
In conclusion, although both are beneficial and work, yoga and pilates are both workouts you should try to incorporate in your weekly regimen.