Pilates and Yoga – what is the difference?
Yoga and pilates. Both are great workouts and for building mental strength as well, but there are plenty of differences between the two. For newbies and those who have never tried them before, they often get mixed up or tarred with the same brush, but there are more differences than initially meets the eye.
Let’s start with yoga…
There are many different styles of yoga, but it is an ancient practice hailing from India. Over the years, yoga has been brought to the western world and there are now many different iterations of the practice. From Vinyasa yoga for those looking for something more strenuous to Yin Yoga which was actually founded in China. These different practices vary depending on what you are looking for and how you want to practice. Asana, or movement, is only one part of the yogic practice. With seven other parts that contribute to the practice as well. The movement is the most commonly practiced element in the western world but the other pieces are just as important as well.
So, what about pilates?
Pilates was founded by Joseph Pilates and it is a physical system designed to strengthen the body and to increase flexibility as well. With yoga, there are many styles and ways of teaching, but with pilates, things are a little more structured. You are less likely to find flows or sequences that tray away from the fundamentals in pilates.
That being said, there are different styles, which often get referred to as mat, classical and reformer pilates. Mat pilates involves your body and a mat with no other equipment and it is extremely popular, while reformer pilates uses a reformer machine and resistance to execute the moves. Classical pilates is by far the most popular, combining apparatus with bodyweight exercises for that balance that we come to know and love.
It can often feel like a case of choosing one or the other but they both have their own benefits for the body and the mind. They are not practices to be compared but shared, and they actually make a great team if you are looking for wellness practices within your life. Strengthen your mind with yoga and meditation, and take care of your core and lower back with pilates, or even try both and see which one you prefer.
The important thing is that they do not get confused as they are totally different and both have very specific breathing cues as well, which differ between the practices.
We cannot pit one against the other as they are just too different, so try them both out, see what you think, and then make your own decision from there. It might take a little while to find your own flow as there are different styles with yoga, and different teachers and schools of thought with both yoga and pilates, so take your time and keep an open mind.
Whether you want to try yoga or pilates, or maybe a mix of the two, we have plenty waiting for you with MADE on Demand. With specialist trainers, recipes and meditations too, you will find everything you need to help you get that step closer to your health and fitness goals.
What is vinyasa yoga?
Vinyasa yoga is a super popular style of yoga and whether you’re new here or you have practiced yoga for a while, here’re some facts, a little bit of history, and also how you can get stuck into your vinyasa yoga practice…
It is a varied style of yoga that means that classes do not tend to be the same and that there is no set format to follow. This means that some people love the freedom and creativity, and others crave the structure that practices such as Bikram or Ashtanga bring. However, if you do want to feel the flow, vinyasa may be the practice for you.
Vinyasa connects the breath and the movement together, with many classes flowing with one breath and one movement, although this can be modified for classes with beginners and if you are taking things a little slower.
The breath that is most commonly used is ocean breath, or Ujayi breath. It replicates the sound of the ocean and you inhale and exhale through the nose. The idea behind this is to both oxygenate and relax the body as you move the body and slow the mind.
It is unknown where the practice started, in the sense that there is no one founder of vinyasa yoga, but it has been popular both in the East and West for many years now. It is a more fast paced and high energy style that requires commitment and dedication, as well as accepting you will work up a sweat.
One of the main things people enjoy about vinyasa is the flowing nature that we mentioned. It means that you transition between poses as part of the flow, almost like a dance, so it is a very fluid practice and plenty of fun, too.
It is easy to bring vinyasa into your practice, even if you haven’t tried it before, as it is very free flowing and you aren’t holding the poses for great lengths of time. If you are new to yoga, the holds can be particularly challenging in other styles. It is also important to know that everything is optional and you can take as many breaks as you need to throughout, so if it does get a bit too much, you can come to rest in Child’s pose or come to lie down if you would prefer. It is common for those who have practiced a while to take breaks too.
Vinyasa is a style of yoga but there is also a short sequence that is commonly referred to as a vinyasa as well. You start in downward facing dog and make your way to a plank pose. Then, with knees lifted or taking them down to the ground, you lower into a chaturanga, and let the body rest down. Gently peeling up to cobra, before transitioning back to downward facing dog. That is a vinyasa, and it is a popular addition to a vinyasa flow class, but you can modify as you need to and always skip it out if it feels too intense.
If vinyasa yoga sounds like the style for you, come along to one of our yoga brunches at our wellness centre in Staffordshire. We have a team of great teachers and our brunch events are a great chance to dip your toes into our classes, as well as tasting some yummy vegan food. Click here to book or get in touch to find out more.
The different styles of yoga
Yoga is an ancient practice and over the years, we have seen more and more styles grow and develop. If you are wondering which type of yoga would be good for you, take a read of some of the most popular styles before you get stretching.
Vinyasa is the most flowing of yoga styles and typically a class will work through a faster pace. The idea is one movement with one breath but this can be changed depending on what is needed from the class.
There is plenty of variety in vinyasa yoga and there is no set structure which means there are some pretty creative flows and teachers out there, which are always fun to take part in.
We actually have a whole post on vinyasa yoga, so click here to go and check it out if you are looking for a fast paced style of yoga.
Yin is a much slower practice than some of the other popular styles of yoga, but that does not mean that it isn’t physically and mentally demanding. Throughout a yin yoga practice, one pose will be held for a longer amount of time, such as three to five minutes or sometimes longer.
Alignment is an important factor, especially with holding poses for such a length of time and, of course, there will be an element of discomfort. However, the principles of Yin Yoga acknowledge that every body is unique and that everyone will feel and practice a little differently, so listening to your own body is encouraged throughout a class.
The practice slows down the body and mind, offering the opportunity to find more extension and length in certain poses. It is known to reduce stress and anxiety as well as being a great practice for increased flexibility. Yin is not traditionally practiced in a heated room, but due to the slow nature of the practice, it is advisable to wear suitable clothing and practice in a space that has a comfortable temperature.
The trademarked practice of Bikram Choudhury and the subject of much controversy online in recent years, Bikram yoga is a unique style of practice that remains popular and well-practiced despite the unraveling of its founder.
Bikram Yoga is a style of hot yoga, practiced at at least 100 degrees Fahrenheit, is still widely practiced and taught by various yoga practitioners. It consists of a 90-minute flow where 26 postures are worked through.
One major thing to note in a Bikram class is that the style of teaching lends itself to be spoken rather than practical, so teachers will talk you through the poses as opposed to demonstrating every one themselves. The heat is also a large factor in Bikram and although hot yoga is growing more popular in the UK, Bikram itself is very specialised and you need to be prepared to sweat.
While it is encouraged that you stay in the room for the entirety of the class, breaks are encouraged and you should take the class at your own pace, making sure not to push yourself too far.
The mental benefits are pretty equal to the physical, with students often feeling alive and invigorated after a class, despite the exhaustion from the practice.
While Bikram yoga is no longer widely practiced, hot yoga has been snapped up by many practitioners, because of the heat and the ability to find a deeper stretch.
Hatha yoga is probably yoga as you know it. It is our most practiced style here in the west and combines breath work and movement throughout the class.
Hatha means ‘force’ in Sanskrit and the practice has been around for thousands of years.
You can take the practice as slow or as fast as you like but there is usually a gentle warm up, working up to one more advanced pose or variation, before bringing the body back down and casing with meditation.
There are different types of meditation too and it is important that you don’t get too hung up on this, as you can always focus on your breath if the meditation that is being guided feels like too much for you. There are so many variables when it comes to meditating and some days are better than others for your s with everything in life.
Hatha is a great place to start if you’re looking to get into yoga.
Kundalini yoga focuses heavily on connecting on a spiritual level. Through movement, breathwork, meditation, and kriyas, this practice is a blend of Bhakti, Shakti, and Raja yoga..
The practice starts with a ‘tuning in’ exercise and chant to open the practice, the chant being, ‘Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo’ and so the practice begins.
It is a blend of asana, pranayama, and bandhas which work together to release that Kundalini energy, and, from personal experience, it is unlike any other yoga practice. It is intense and all-encompassing but also a way to truly feel at one with yourself.
Throughout the practice, attention is focussed on the meridians or energy points throughout the body, to achieve the kundalini-state. One of the most popular pranayama exercises to aid this is alternate nostril breathing, where the breath is controlled with the fingers being applied to the nostrils, one at a time. It is a grounding breath practice that can both energise and release anxiety. Even if you don’t practice Kundalini, this is a great breathwork exercise to try.
X-Yoga is a fusion of yoga and HIIT, a signature class here at Welcome to MADE. It blends bodyweight exercises and yoga stretches to give you a juicy, stretchy workout that works up a sweat in the process. You can take it at your own pace and everything is optional.
There will be a short blast of HIIT, followed by some yoga stretches during the resting period of the class, to make sure you find active stretches throughout. We know that these can feel quite intense so don’t worry about doing it all and give it a try, we think you will be surprised…
Yoga comes in many different shapes and sizes and that is one of the most amazing things about it. Yoga is for everyone and everybody, so if you have been thinking about yoga and wellness, get in touch with the team at MADE. We offer a range of yoga brunches so you can dip your toe into the yogic waters, or indulge in some times for yourself if you are a regular practitioner. View our yoga brunch dates and book here at our wellness centre in Staffordshire.