Pilates Vs Yoga
…or should we be doing both?
Yoga is fantastic, it helps build core stability and improves balance while improving and maintaining your range of movement. Pilates, you could argue does exactly that, with a slightly different manner. Okay, so Pilates hasn’t quite got the popularity and media attention perhaps as yoga does these days, but it definitely shouldn’t be shelved, and here’s why.
Yoga and Pilates are two different forms of exercise and training, yet share strong similarities at the same time. Ultimately, they are two very good tools for training and can complement each other very well. Overall, we believe yoga is the better option for increasing flexibility and range of movement. It can be great for body awareness and discovering where your weaknesses and imbalances lie, so you can target these areas to help create the ideal postural symmetry. Pilates will help give you strength throughout all ranges of movement starting from your core. For example, using a common analogy; if a tree has a weak trunk, the branches will flop down and become limp, same goes for all of us.
So who should be doing what?
We tend to see a lot of patients coming in with lower back pain or neck pain, who are new to yoga and usually new-found yoga addicts… unfortunately for these patients it hasn’t always agreed with them. This can often be down to their natural body type. Hypermobile individuals (very mobile joints, usually able to put their hands flat on the floor with their knees straight, without any ounce of effort) are usually very good at achieving yoga poses, and therefore often enjoy it. However, these individuals can often not be strong enough in their core and this is where these poses can become dangerous, and where we tend to come in as physiotherapists. For hypermobile individuals Pilates can be a game changer, for injury prevention and getting the most out of other sports and activities, especially achieving those advanced yoga positions safely. That all said, if you are typically strong yet the inflexible type, this doesn’t mean your core and stability muscles are necessarily awake either. Pilates can still be a good option for you too!
For example, if our core isn’t being recruited and staying active when we are simply walking, working or carrying out our sporting activities, we can easily compensate elsewhere! We compensate by using our larger muscle groups, the ones that the body builders look at in the mirror. These may look good but they are pretty much useless if the ones underneath are not working. So, by activating our core stabilising muscles, we are able to relax our larger muscle groups and save their energy for those big actions that they are needed for, and become more functionally efficient human beings. Therefore, perhaps improving our sporting potential!
Yoga and Pilates Pros :
- Improved posture
- Strengthens core
- Improves balance
- Can reduce risk of injury
- Low impact; it’s friendly on the joints and achievable for any age.
- Minimal equipment required; it can be done anywhere, anytime, over online classes in the comfort of your own home or at a gym in class with a bunch of friends.
- Improves body image and self-esteem; with your new and improved posture, bums and tums, can often come this new-found confidence.
- Can be a great compliment to prenatal and postnatal rehabilitation.