Pilates or Yoga?

What happens in a Pilates or yoga class?

There are mixed ideas about Pilates and Yoga are and what benefits they reap as many GPs, nurses and physios recommend these activities not just for injuries but to relieve stress and improve our mental health. These sessions are sometimes aided with background music and no previous experience is required. The ability to get up and down on the floor is a must unless you can locate a chair based or clinical based type class.


What do I need?

Once you have located a class its probably best to call or email beforehand and ask what equipment is needed. Usually a mat, take a drink in a sealed container and to wear comfortable and loose clothing. You may be asked to complete a health questionnaire either when joining a gym or at a private class session so advice may be gained prior to session. Additionally, an instructor of these sessions would usually ask if there have been any health changes or if you are brand new to let them know

Both yoga and Pilates share common threads such as they are not choreographed, you tend to move at your own pace and some of the positions are performed in standing, lying, on your side as well as back and front and seated. They also offer ways to modify or adapt an exercise, sometimes a position or using equipment to assist to either make an exercise easier or harder.

Yoga and Pilates are known as ‘mindfulness’ classes. Thus, meaning it is about the mind connecting to the body rather than losing weight or toning there is a bigger picture that you are being present, living in the moment. It will be a great tool to help you through challenging times of life. It is quite easy to rush through life without stopping to take much notice. However, paying more attention to the present moment and to your own thoughts and feelings and to the world around you can help you to improve your mental well-being. This type of class is safe, accessible and suitable for all ages and body types focus on:-

  • Breathing – This takes time to learn and help engage more muscles known as the core (tummy, back, bottom muscles and the diaphragm and pelvic floor). The focus on breath work, and working with your body as one, breathing with the movements.
  • Improve posture – we are not symmetrical, and these classes draw awareness to body alignment and target imbalances
  • Improve Strength, flexibility and balance – allows your body to move more fluently and efficiently and increase your overall body strength especially the deeper muscles and power as well as increased stability in your body and mind.
  • Recovery and reducing stress – Teaches you how to move your spine and what areas need help with a heightened awareness of movements promote recovery. This also relaxes the mind and improves endorphin levels which decreases stress and improves mental health.


What are the differences between Yoga and Pilates?

Yoga poses tend to relate to animals and nature and yoga has been around for hundreds of years and takes on many styles such as Hatha, Iyengar and Ashtanga etc These styles differ from how long they are held, breathing sequences and some such as ashtanga can be challenging. Within a session they may use Sanskrit (ancient language) terms and relate the benefit of the pose to a body part e.g., the thyroid or digestion.

Pilates is very young, it was created 100 years ago by Joseph Pilates who used exercises for rehabilitation and realised these moves that came from a variety of sources such as yoga, acrobatics, ballet and gymnastics could be modified and aid recovery but could also prevent and manage many health conditions or aid activities such as ballet and sports such as tennis. The exercises tend to be described in terms of the body part being moved and/or what they should be doing. An example is a hip roll where the knees drop side to side the technique is explained as well as mentioning this massages the tailbone and introduce rotation (twist) gently into the spine to develop movement and reduce stiffness.

Yoga and Pilates have proved of great benefit to many individuals and are available within health clubs and leisure centres, local village halls and specific Pilates or Yoga based studios and now also online.

Refer to the Wellness Service