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What is the difference between Pilates and Yoga?

What is the difference between Pilates and Yoga?

In my 15 years as a Pilates teacher, the question I got asked the most was, “What is the difference between Pilates and Yoga?” The short answer might be breathwork. In yoga, when you inhale, your stomach swells out, followed by your chest, and while you exhale, your stomach goes in, followed by your chest. In Pilates, the focus is on activating the core. In a typical one hour class, the intention is to have the core muscles in action for 90% of the class, and in order to achieve this, there must be no breath in the belly. Keeping the core muscles activated and breathing into the lungs, aiming for a sideways breath where the lungs fill to full capacity, without lifting the shoulders and without breathing into the belly, on the exhale, the ribs knit together in a corset-like fashion, with the core still activated.

The other difference that is assumed is that yoga is a spiritual practice, and Pilates is not. Baring in mind that yoga originated 5-10,000 years ago and Pilates was only developed in the 20th century, it is safe to say that Pilates has taken influences from yoga. Whether or not Pilates is a spiritual practice, is simply a matter of how one perceives spirituality, and in how you choose to practice. Something spiritual is defined as having the nature of spirit; not material; supernatural, and the body whilst physical, could also be described as supernatural in its ability to heal itself and to breathe without our attention. When I teach and practice Pilates, the picture I have in my mind is Leonardo da Vinci’s Vituvian Man. I imagine the lines of energy stretching from my limbs, and through my spine, stretching and extending to infinity. Combining this feeling of extension, with the controlled and concentrated breathwork, brings me into a very focused and meditative state, or what sportspeople refer to as being in the zone. For me, like watching the waves of the ocean, I believe we can bring the spiritual to any part of our day to day lives as we choose.

Article by: Susannah Wilson

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