Understanding the Difference Between Pilates and Yoga

Over the last decade or so yoga has become an increasingly popular form of exercise for people throughout the United States. In fact, it is reported that more than 22 million Americans practice yoga. From the physical benefits to the mental health benefits, it is no wonder why people are turning to the mat when it comes to exercising and getting in a good workout. However, Pilates is also rising in popularity. With more and more celebrities embracing Pilates (hello, Gwyneth Paltrow, Madonna, and Jennifer Aniston) and gyms offering this class, it is easy to see why people’s interest in Pilates is at an all-time high. In fact, as a leading 24-hour Arlington luxury gym, Fitness Nation offers a wide range of Pilates classes, perfect for everyone from beginners to seasoned vets. Thankfully, we also offer tons of great yoga classes, including Vinyasa, Yin, and Hatha-style classes. With such a wide selection, you don’t have to worry about choosing between Pilates and yoga! A lot of people practice both, providing them with the perfect balance of benefits for the body, mind, and spirit. In order to help you choose which is for you, we thought it might be helpful to go over some of the main differences between the two.

Breaking Down Pilates vs. Yoga

First and foremost, it may be beneficial to know that Pilates is referred to as a workout and yoga as a practice. That distinction aside, both Pilates and yoga are transformational, focused methods of movement that help you achieve positive change in the body, mind, and spirit. Now, let’s take a brief look at the history of each before we go any further.

Pilates-Fitness NationHistory of Pilates

Joseph H. Pilates was born near Dusseldorf, Germany in 1890 and is credited as the father of Pilates. After experiencing numerous challenges as a child – including asthma, rickets, and rheumatic fever – Pilates was determined to heal himself through the teachings of both Eastern and Western forms of exercising, including yoga and ancient Greek and Roman exercises. By the age of 14, Pilates had become somewhat of a renaissance man of exercise. Over the years, Pilates began creating machines using the springs from old hospital beds in order to help soldiers who had become disabled from wartime injuries. These machines would become prototypes of the specialized equipment that is used in Pilate’s studios, including in the Pilates classes you will find at Fitness Nation.

History of Yoga

Yoga-Fitness NationOn the other hand, yoga is known to be thousands of years old, with the earliest signs of yoga postures appearing as drawings on artifacts dating back to 3000 B.C. Introduced to the West during the 19th century, yoga was first used a movement for health and vegetarianism. By the 1960s, there were numerous Indian teachers littered throughout the United States, teaching people of all different ages and backgrounds the benefits of yoga.

The Main Differences

To better understand the main ways in which yoga and Pilates differ, it may be helpful to look at the core principles of each.

Pilates is based on the following six principles that help you learn how to move with maximum efficiency, without placing any unnecessary stress on the body:

  1. Centering
  2. Concentration
  3. Control
  4. Precision
  5. Breath
  6. Flow

You will find that Pilates is both gentle and challenging, making it a safe and effective form of exercise ideal for nearly everyone, regardless of age, fitness ability, or background.

Yoga is known for facilitating strength, balance, flexibility, anti-aging, and the curing of illness and disease through the following five principles:

  1. Asanas (proper exercise)
  2. Pranayama (correct breathing)
  3. Saucha (healthy diet)
  4. Dhyana (positive thinking and meditation)
  5. Savasana (complete relaxation)

Perhaps the biggest distinction between the two is that the origin of yoga is a spiritual one and the practice of yoga was originally used as a means to move energy through the body. Regardless of where your interests lie, both yoga and Pilates have many wonderful benefits that you are sure to experience almost instantaneously. To learn more about our Yoga and Pilate’s offerings, please give us a call or come visit our Arlington gym.