Pilates vs Yoga – what’s the difference?

pilates vancouverIn recent years, the recognition of the benefits of exercise has grown to capture not only physical benefits, but those to the mind and spirit as well. In Vancouver this has translated into a growing following of Pilates and Yoga. Both systems exercise the body and mind.

Pilates and Yoga provide low-impact exercise that improves strength and posture while emphasizing flow through specific movements. Not surprisingly, it can be difficult to differentiate between the two.

Yoga is an ancient Eastern practice with a spiritual emphasis that includes mediation while performing a series of physical poses emphasizing balance and tension release. It is yogic philosophy that physical tension disrupts the flow of energy through the body. Therefore, yoga channels positive energy during meditation. It also conditions the body and mind to hold meditative poses, which for yoga enthusiasts can last an hour or longer.

Where yoga is spiritual, Pilates is designed as a conditioning system. The founder, Joseph Pilates, was influenced by yoga and believed physical strength is directly connected to that of the mind. While there is no meditation in Pilates, it does require significant mental focus. Pilates strengthens and reduces tension in muscles throughout the body, emphasizing the core muscles (back, abdomen and pelvic floor). By avoiding muscle imbalances, Pilates prevents injury and improves performance of daily activities.

Both Pilates and yoga challenge muscular and mental endurance. One is not better than the other; it is a matter of personal preference. And since the two systems complement one another, independently or together, they contribute toward a healthy lifestyle.

Jesse Veenstra, MSc


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