Is Yoga or Pilates Better for Health?

When it comes to whole-body calming, exercise is important. While exercise might not feel calming, it does have huge benefits! Exercise can pump up your endorphins, improve your mood and negate stress and tension. Exercise can help you throughout the day. It aids sleep, regardless of what time of day you exercise, evening the evening. As your core temperature rises during exercise, cooling down afterward can even help you fall asleep faster!

If you are looking for gentle exercise you can do at home to help your heart and whole-body calmness to aid sleep, you may have questions. In the past, we have written so much about the benefits of yoga. But, if you’re deciding between Pilates and yoga, they both have different advantages. Finding the right one for you is vital to sticking with it.

Yoga and Pilates both involve stretching and breathing on a floor mat. The most significant difference stems from their roots. Yoga was invented 5,000 years ago in India and blends philosophy and wellness. Pilates was developed in the 1920s as physical therapy to aid recovery from injury. While yoga doesn’t necessarily have to include spiritual or philosophical practices today, it’s still a more holistic approach. Most people who use yoga bring a lot of yoga practices into their everyday life — practicing breathing during normal activities. If you do Pilates, you literally “leave it on the mat.”

Another difference between yoga and Pilates is that yoga focuses on matching breathing to movement and holding stretches. This can be incredibly calming and help flexibility a great deal. Pilates, on the other hand, focuses on controlled breathing and constant motion. It works on your core muscles and glutes. It helps you build strength without putting pressure on your joints. Both help with balance.

If you are looking for a gentle form of exercise to build strength through stretching, Pilates might be right for you. You can learn the technique from a class and then do it at home. While you can learn it all online, it’s best to speak to a doctor first. There might be a medical reason they believe it would be better for you to learn with assistance.

Pilates can help you learn more about your body as you exercise. “On a mental level, the emphasis on the mind-body connection creates a better sense of awareness and control,” said Pilates instructor Eloise Skinner. “Pilates movements target specific muscle groups and are repeated while your breathing is controlled to help maintain endurance during the repetitions.”

If you are looking for something to help your mind as well as your body, yoga may be a better choice. “Mentally, yoga can induce a state of calm and mindfulness by the continual return to the breath and its sensations,” said licensed mental health counselor Nira Shah. She also said it can “help reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress, especially if you stick to an ongoing practice. The physical practice of yoga can provide stretching, build muscle and increase flexibility. From a fitness perspective, yoga can be either high impact or low impact, depending on the style and pacing of the class.”

Physically, you can get a great workout from either yoga or Pilates. You can decide the intensity. And, as exercise helps you sleep and helps your body relax because of the physical aspect, they’ll both fit the bill. The real trick is finding the one that suits your style. If you are looking for something holistic and a workout for your mind and body, yoga is a great choice. If you want to build strength without undue stress on your body, Pilates might be a better fit.

Banner image: Amauri Mejía via Unsplash

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