The difference between yoga and pilates

exercise disciplines at retirement age

Despite both being hugely popular exercise disciplines, many people confuse yoga and Pilates. Whether an experienced practitioner or someone simply eager to see which would best suit their own exercise regime, let's take a quick look at the difference...

Yoga: an ancient discipline

This historic technique dates back an estimated 5000 years, and originated in northern India. Considered as much more than an exercise regime, yoga incorporates a wide variety of techniques including everything from diet to posture, breathing and meditation. With an approach which looks at the mind, body and spirit, yoga is a lifestyle and a way of life for its devotees, which takes a distinctly holistic approach to the quest for inner balance and balance with the universe as a whole.

Focuses on: therapeutic solutions and unification, stress alleviation and spiritual wellness.

Practice: Yoga includes a variety of different styles, often practised in groups and using yoga mats. Instructors are important to yoga practice, helping to ensure techniques are carried out in the correct way.

Pilates: a 20th century discipline

Though inspired by yoga, Pilates was only created around 80 years ago. The invention of Joseph Pilates, the discipline focuses closely on strengthening core muscles and improving balance, helping to support the spine and build strength.

This mind and body approach uses a range of familiar techniques alongside intense concentration and breathing exercises, and is championed by everyone from celebrities to ordinary working people who have seen the benefits for themselves.

Focuses on: toning and flexibility exercises for a stronger, more agile body.

Practice: Pilates makes use of yoga mats, but it also includes the use of Pilates machines to help develop leaner physical lines and improve toning techniques.

Which should I choose?

Deciding whether you choose to practice yoga or Pilates instead is largely about deciding what your own goals are. Pilates is great for individuals who want to boost their muscle tone and overall flexibility. Yoga meanwhile is fantastic for stress reduction and mastering meditation techniques, as well as focusing more on flexibility than specific toning exercises.

Both can help with physical and emotional rehabilitation, thanks to the emphasis on spending time reconnecting with your inner self and the world around you.

If you're unsure, find a local Audley class to get you better acquainted with the techniques found in yoga and Pilates.