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Yoga or Pilates - Which One Should You Practice?

Written by: Brian Goodwin
Published on: August 11, 2011
Category: Exercise


Yoga and Pilates are two excellent styles of exercise but many people get confused between the two of them. Most people think that one can easily substitute one exercise for the other and get the same results which are strength and flexibility. However, this is definitely not the case. There are certain fundamental differences in how these exercises are done and this gives a practitioner very different results.

Yoga is a very ancient form of exercise that originated in India over 5000 years ago. It is very different from other forms of exercise because it incorporates a spiritual element and not just a physical and mental element. This form of exercise usually involves a lot of meditation and deep breathing exercises, having a holistic approach to health and fitness. Pilates does not have the pedigree of this exercise, having been created in the early part of the 20th century by a German athlete called Joseph Pilates. It does involve a lot of bending and stretching but there is nothing spiritual about it. It is also very structured whereas Yogic studios tend to be very easy going. Teachers of this particular exercise can combine different positions into many different routines in order to suit the convenience of students. Of course, the Bikram style of Yogic practice is an exception since it is very strict and sticks to a particular routine.

A Pilates routine differs from a Yogic routine in that it offers the most comprehensive body workout possible. It is more successful than Yogic positions when it comes to strengthening the core of the body. It is also better when it comes to strengthening the spine. Yogic routines do not focus on any body part because they are more concerned with creating balance and harmony in the body.

Pilates routines involve a lot of mat work but the most effective routines require the involvement of machines. Traditional Yoga routines, on the other hand, do not involve any machines at all. There are a few modern variations of this exercise, the Iyengar style in particular, that involve the use of machines but this is not really the authentic style. Even the breathing styles that both exercises employ are different. People who practice Pilates have to use their nose to inhale and their mouth to exhale whereas Yogic breathing is done only through the nose.

Pilates is the better choice if you are looking for extremely well-toned muscles with a bit of flexibility thrown in. However, you should consider taking up Yoga instead if you are looking for flexibility with a little bit of toning as well. This is also a great way to reduce stress although it will not tone your body to the extent that Pilates can. Pilates is also quite expensive and people on a tight budget tend to avoid it. It would be best that you gave both styles of exercise a try so that you understand which one works best for you and helps you achieve your fitness goals.

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