To Yoga Or To Yoga Not?

I was recently introduced to a product associated with Yoga. So far, I love the product. Why would I want to promote an item when I'm not a Yogi? Good question. Simple answer. It's one of those concepts that transcends lines. As long as you put it on your body!!!

Think of props/tools. Some are the same, some not. Take the Yoga block. I love to use blocks in my Pilates routine. Good stuff. I use the thinner Yoga mat when I'm working on carpet. Explore all options.

Keep posted as I will be reporting on the new product. In the meantime, I thought this would be a good time to address how Yoga and Pilates mix, if at all. Some of you have asked. Many of you have been leery of Pilates because of your uncertainty with Yoga. Let me quiet your concerns.

How often have you heard or wondered if Pilates and Yoga are twins in the fitness industry? The answer? Simple. NOT.
That's not to say that they don't or can't complement each other. Personally, I don't think it's important to try and marry them. Let them each have their own place. Yet, it's possible to combine them in a productive routine according to the authors of Pilates Yoga.

We need Yoga asanas that promote balance. Balance is critical as we age. Maybe you heard about my Warrior Pose experience from a previous post. Laughter is good for the soul. I was viewing a DVD on Yoga and Pilates. So I thought I'd try out some Yoga. Uh-huh. I got into position without a glitch. Easy enough, I thought. Staying in the position? Didn't happen. The next thing I knew, I was shooting off into my rock fireplace. Ouchy ouch! I would highly recommend staying away from surfaces harder than your down pillow while learning Yoga!

We need Pilates as it promotes using your core/powerhouse. Joseph emphasized concentration, control. precision. breathing, flow/fluidity, and centering. Pilates teaches us how to re-align and re-educate our bodies to prevent injuries and or to help us recover from injury.

Here are a few tips on the difference and the similarities:

  • Yoga springs from the East and has been around for a gillion years. More like 2000 years ago by Indian sage Patanjali.
  • Pilates found its origin from German born Joseph Pilates in the 1800s. He brought it to American circa early 1900s.
  • Yoga often involves meditation, but the West doesn't emphasize it as much as the East.
  • Pilates and Yoga breathing techniques are different.
  • Yoga does not incorporate equipment like Pilates does. Yoga exercises are performed mostly on the mat with some basic tools like blocks, straps, bolsters, and chairs.
  • Which by the way, usually a yoga mat is much thinner than a Pilates mat.
  • Yoga lends itself toward your ability to balance, and it embraces being supple. Pilates, while bringing that to the plate, does not emphasize it.
  • It seems that Pilates focuses more on the anatomy and the bio mechanics of the body. Perhaps, Yoga does so in its more modern state.
  • Typically, both are performed in groups, however, Pilates offers more one-on-one training. The equipment creates that need. However, I would recommend always taking private lessons in either system you plan on getting involved in.
While I would highly recommend taking Pilates only at a reputable Pilates studio, I might suggest that taking a Yoga class at a reputable fitness center would be doable. In part because Yoga has been around long enough that hopefully the people teaching it are highly qualified. Too, Yoga does not traditionally use equipment. Props but not large equipment.

Whereas Pilates has many pieces of equipment along with props. Rarely will you see rec centers, etc. with Pilates equipment. This unfortunate void is changing and will probably become more common.

Not to sound arrogant, but it's not often that a highly qualified Pilates instructor is drawn to teaching in rec centers. Please don't misquote me. I'm not saying "EVER." I am saying at this point in time, with this particular system, rarely are professionally trained Pilates instructors teaching in the local gyms/rec centers. These "Pilates" instructors are usually trained in general fitness, involving various forms of exercise. However, they are NOT seasoned in the system of Pilates.

Will That Change?
Sure. Pilates, though it has been around since the late 1800s, has not been taught openly and freely outside of certain private studios but a few short years (since October 2000). Mainly due to a court battle over who or who could not patent or trademark the system after Joseph Pilates passed away. You see, he didn't will his discipline to any one person or studio (another story for another time). Therefore, the Manhattan court decided that anyone could teach Pilates and that Pilates is a method of exercise such as yoga, aerobics, rather than a trademark.

By the way, an example of change occurring in fitness centers that I know of from personal experience is Cooper Fitness Center in Dallas. They have an entire section designated for Pilates private instruction with equipment. The trainers are professional Pilates instructors. If you elect to go there, let me know, and I can refer an excellent teacher.

FYI, I'd say Pilates is more expensive in the sense that you pay more for private lessons than group yoga sessions.

  • Both are green, and I don't mean fresh out of the shoot. Organic might be a better word.
  • Both are mindful disciplines. You use a mind-body connection. You have to think!
  • Both call for using your mind to bring movement into your body.
  • Both bring health to your body.
  • Both bring beautiful movement into your body.
  • Both have different levels.
  • Both have modifications.
  • Both bring life time results.
  • They both can bring health to your entire body.
  • Both can be implemented in your every day life.
  • Both are typically performed barefoot.
  • They have some exercises that are basically the same. Ex. Cat. Note, I said "basically."
  • Neither were originally designed to be a cardio workout.
  • Both should be complemented with a cardio routine.
  • Both are safe as long as you have a release from your trusted medical professional and as long as you perform the movements they way they were intended. Remember, people injure people.
  • Both are great for rehabbing from an injury.
  • Both have various health benefits.
  • Both have contraindications, so you should have a professional directing you in what is safe for your particular body and what isn't.
  • Overall, most of the movements work for any age, gender.
  • Both are economically "safe" for your budget. 
  • Neither are a fad. They have existed for many years.
  • You can learn their methods/exercises and practice them in the comfort of your own home.
Which One Is For You?
What I have found is that some people hate one and love the other. That may be in part, due to the experience, be it good or bad. Example: a good/bad instructor or the lack of understanding of the system. Or it may be purely a personality choice. For me, I enjoy both; however, without question, Pilates is my first love.

Resources: Pilates Yoga Smith, Kelly, and Monks 2004, Balanced Body, Personal interviews, Yogatoes, Cooper Clinic.
NOTE: If you would like a discount from Yogatoes, let me know!

Revised: 09/26/09

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