Gone are the days where we are conditioned to opt for only one method of training. It used to feel almost like “cheating” if you dared incorporate 2 different disciplines/practices into your life at the same time. I breathe a sigh of relief, as time has moved on and there is a much greater level of understanding as to the physiological and psychological benefits of mixing things up!
I speak as a Pilates practitioner and teacher with years of experience behind me which inspired me to open my fitness studio FORM in Notting Hill. My love and passion for Pilates culminated in my creating a fresh new workout called METcore Pilates. It is a Pilates based class with little yoga influence incorporated in the warm-up and cool down phases of the class.
My yogic experience is not particularly extensive and of course, there are numerous branches of yoga that are practised around the world. I have studied Kundalini, Yin and Ashtanga and they are all very different practices within the umbrella of yoga, and certainly vastly different to Pilates.
Yoga & Pilates often get lumped in the same category but are not always easily differentiated. Albeit very different, they are EQUALLY BENEFICIAL and I recommend them for different reasons.
Mind & Body
Yoga is a therapeutic practise that is used to unite the mind, body and spirit. I love that yoga has a spiritual and meditative component, which Pilates does not have. It really helps me to centre myself and energise my mind for the stresses of modern living. Yoga is often used to heal the body and provide mental harmony by improving flexibility and promoting relaxation. The movements in Yoga are called poses as opposed to exercises in Pilates.
Whilst in Pilates, the core focus, is in fact, the CORE, all the Pilates movements are initiated from the core, or POWERHOUSE, as Joseph Pilates names this region of the body. Developing strength in the core is essential to Pilates. That’s what I love about Pilates it’s helped so many of my clients overcome back pain, improve balance and encourage correct posture. As well as using body weight exercises, Pilates utilises resistance machines (reformer, MOTR, chairs and cadillacs) and other equipment (Pilates rings and balls) to improve the alignment and strength of the body. While Yoga practice predominantly uses body weight (holding static poses) and doesn’t utilise any form of resistance equipment.
Breathing plays an integral role in both Yoga & Pilates, but the breathing techniques are slightly different. Yoga encourages breathing for relaxation purposes. Throughout the routine, in Yoga it is important to continuously concentrate on how the breath is being employed. Sending breath to areas that might be holding stress can help to relax these muscle groups in the body and assist in holding ones pose deeper and longer. The breathing technique in Yoga is called Pranayama. The benefits of Pranayama are below.
Reduced anxiety and depression
Lower/stabilized blood pressure
Increased energy levels
Decreased feelings of stress and feeling overwhelmed
In Pilates, the breath is used more as a technique in order to activate the core muscles, and provide the body with energy in order to perform the exercises effectively and thus capitalise on the efficacy of the movements. Pilates breathing uses an inhale through the nose to help filter the air like yoga, but instead of a calm, slow exhale, the focus is on a strong forced exhale. The goal is to empty the lungs as much as possible, (and briskly) so you have the opportunity to take in as much fresh oxygen on our next breath to help nourish our cells, and feed our brain and body. Performed correctly, Pilates breathing helps lengthen the spine, AND deepens core support. It helps facilitate better movement to bend the spine forwards, backwards, sideways, and to twist. It helps set the ribcage and upper back in an optimal position for healthy shoulder mechanics, and the lift of the spine and support of the core from both the inhale and exhale helps lift the torso up off the legs for healthy hip mechanics.
Plus for Yoga
The classical techniques of yoga date back more than 5,000 years. The practice of yoga encourages effort, intelligence, accuracy, thoroughness, commitment and dedication. The word yoga means ‘to join or yoke together’. It brings your body and mind together, and is built on three main elements – exercise, breathing and meditation. Yoga is a renowned antidote to stress. Over time, yoga practitioners report lower levels of stress, and increased feelings of happiness and wellbeing. This is because concentrating on the postures and the breath acts as a form of meditation. There are many different varieties of yoga, each with a slightly different slant, to suit most preferences. The most popular are Hatha, Bikram, Iyengar and Vinyasa yoga.
Plus for Pilates
Pilates (or the Pilates method) is a series of about 500 exercises inspired by calisthenics, yoga and ballet. Pilates is results driven in terms of strengthening the body and is used as a preventative and rehabilitative practice. Pilates plays an integral roll in many professional dancers and sportsmen’s life’s. For example both Andy Murray and Christian Ronaldo are both strong advocates of Pilates.
FORM’s Pilates inspired classes (our award winning METcore and PURE) are offered daily from 6 30am to 9pm Monday-Sunday and Yoga Sunday evenings at 6 15 and 7 30pm. Please refer to the website to book.
Thank you and Namaste!
Author: FORM Founder Elissa Elhadj