As a Pilates mat instructor, it’s not uncommon for new students to come to my classes thinking they are going to have an experience that is really similar to a yoga class. Even my friends who are unfamiliar with the exercise program often aren’t sure about the differences between the two exercises.
Aside from the mat and working out with no shoes on, there aren’t too many similarities. Yoga was designed as a spiritual practice in India. It incorporates the mind, body and spirit. It’s not uncommon to chant or meditate and set an intention for your practice.
Pilates on the other hand was designed by Joseph Pilates as a workout method. I see it more of a mind, body exercise. Along with the mat classes, there are many different machines that Pilates invented that are part of his method. They use a combination of springs to elongate and strengthen your muscles.
The mat exercises focus on using students’ powerhouses - the section of the body from right above the knee to the breastbone. Yoga tends to be more full body and incorporate stretching and holding poses. Pilates is more repetition based.
One of my students once asked me which practice I thought was better. I honestly said that I believe both have tremendous benefits. The exercise that’s better for you is the one you’re going to do regularly and enjoy.
- Tara Daudani
Photo credit: Ambro