It’s easy to mistake Pilates for yoga. Both of these are practices that look similar from the outside: they’re low impact, movement based exercises that emphasizes mindfulness, usually done in a group setting.
But there are a few subtle differences between both practices. We’ll break them down to help you find which one is the right choice for you.
Yoga was first developed 5,000 years ago in India. Over the years it has branched into many different forms, from the sweat inducing Bikram yoga to the more subtle Hatha yoga. Pilates, meanwhile, was first developed to rehabilitate soldiers returning from World War 1. It gained mainstream interest when dancers started doing Pilates to improve their strength and flexibility.
Core Differences: Outside in VS Inside out
Pilates is outside in: it focuses on developing your body’s strength, flexibility, muscle tone and fitness. Each of the movements are designed to engage the core, strengthening it in the process. The breath is used as a tool to get energy in your muscles.
Yoga is more inside out: the goal is to develop inner harmony between the mind, body and spirit. The breath is used as a focus to center yourself during exercises. The movements are usually done slowly and mindfully, with an emphasis on paying attention on what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. Though flexibility and strength is a natural result of yoga, it’s thought of more as a side effect instead of the goal.
Meditation is a big part of yoga. It’s one of the techniques used to help calm the mind in addition to the many movement and poses. Pilates dispenses with meditation, and instead helps you release your stress by sweating through the workouts itself.
So which one should I pick?
What are your goals? If you prefer working on toning and strengthening your body without any excess fluff, Pilates might be the one for you. On the other hand, if the idea of spirituality, meditation and developing your inner temperance sounds appealing, then yoga might just be your cup of tea. But why decide before trying either of them yourself? It’s standard practice for gyms to offer free trial classes for yoga in Hong Kong. Just give your local gym a call, or go on to their website to see what’s on offer.
Just keep your options flexible and your body will follow suit.