As a Pilates Instructor who is also a yoga student, I enjoy and believe in the benefits of both! A regular Pilates practice will improve your yoga and help you prevent injury. As an instructor who teaches Pilates-Yoga Fusion and Restorative Reformer classes, I absolutely LOVE the creativity, challenge, and feeling of blending these movements on Pilates Equipment.
Generally speaking, both practices combine integration of mind, body, and spirit. Both are guided by breath and involve integrated movement, while promoting strength, flexibility, and balance. Benefits of both also include better muscular balance and skeletal alignment, pain relief, strengthening of bones and joints, improved range of motion, improved focus and a sense of well-being.
The differences between Pilates and Yoga classes will vary depending on the method of instruction and the style of your instructor. Discussion of the differences will also vary depending on the training and experience of the instructors and students describing the two practices, but a really simple explanation of the foundational difference is that Yoga has been around for over 5000 years and stemmed from the Hindu religion with classes often including spiritual teachings. Pilates was invented as the Contrology method in the early 1900s by Joseph H. Pilates, who had broad experience in many physical practices, including yoga. The spiritual element of Pilates has no religious background, yet some may feel a connection to spirit through their focus on breath and body during integrative movement.
With its origin in Contrology, it makes sense that contemporary Pilates focuses on controlling your range of motion based on your ability to access your core muscles and stabilize through your joints. Exercises are typically dynamic with focus on concentric and eccentric muscle control. Yoga tends to hold postures at the end range of joint motion and muscle length with focus on more extreme flexibility. Another significant difference is that Pilates tends to focus more on targeting key stabilizing muscles groups like the abdominals, shoulder girdle, glutes, outer hip and inner thigh muscles. Strengthening these muscles can help with stability and decrease the risk of injury when practicing yoga or other activities.
Blending Pilates with Yoga-inspired movement using the Pilates Reformer and Tower equipment, increases challenges to your strength, balance, and flexibility. The adjustable spring tension elevates your connection to your deep stabilizing muscles and assists with stretching. Dynamic movements on the Reformer and Tower with adjustable spring tension allow you to train concentrically and eccentrically in a way that will help you achieve better form in yoga poses. A concentric contraction is a muscle activation that causes tension on the muscle as it shortens to generate force. Eccentric contraction is the motion of an active muscle while lengthening under load. The focus in Pilates of controlling both concentric and eccentric contractions builds better quality of muscle strength, while increasing flexibility for better range of motion and mobility. It also strengthens ligaments and tendons to help prevent injury. For more information on how Pilates delivers on eccentric contractions when lowering the body against gravity or when resisting the shortening of the springs see this article by Equilibrium.
Harmony Pilates and Physical Therapy invites you to feel the way your body responds to our new blended classes, including Pilates-Yoga Fusion that charges your energy with powerful movements and balance challenges and Restorative Pilates that recharges your energy when you slow down to focus on breath, deep connection, muscle and tension release.
Look for our specials and go to our class schedule to try these wonderful blended classes.