We’re constantly bombarded by the media about physical fitness. There are tons of reasons why we should get off our chairs and be active in today’s increasingly automated and sedentary culture. Practising any exercise does not only result in a good appearance, but also reduces stress and brings peace and overall harmony to the body and mind.
There are two types of exercise techniques that immediately spring to mind when we think of mind and body awareness: Pilates and yoga. As a Pilates practitioner I will focus today on the Pilates side of this comparison. I have been attending a few yoga classes over the years, but I am not a yoga expert. Yoga and Pilates may have some physical similarities, but their philosophies are different. Yoga tends to have a more spiritual approach and has a much longer history than Pilates. Dating back about five thousand years, the yoga practice includes diet, relaxation, meditation and breathing skills. Generally encompassing a much broader and more holistic lifestyle.
Pilates is not an ancient practice. Joseph Pilates, a German gymnast, body-builder and boxer, invented the method in the 1920s. He was interested in the mechanics of the human body and was influenced by yoga, gymnastics and functional movements (although this term didn’t exist in his era). Often Pilates is reduced to ‘core strength’ but it is in fact a whole body workout. It is great for postural improvement, whole body strength, joint mobility and flexibility. The Pilates technique is based on six principles: concentration, centring, precision, control, breath and flow.
In a Pilates session you move from one exercise to the next without holding poses like you do in some yoga styles. What both yoga and Pilates have in common is the focus on breathing (even though they use different breathing techniques) and control of movements. You will never see vigorous or jerky movements in either a yoga or Pilates class. One big difference is that Pilates is not only practised on a mat. Joseph Pilates also invented Pilates equipment like the Universal Reformer, the Cadillac, the Wundachair and more. All these pieces of apparatus use springs to either help with the exercise or add more resistance. Pilates is fantastic for rehabilitation after injuries and can be easily modified for any physical shortcomings or muscle imbalances. A skilled Pilates teacher can create personal programmes tailored to individual needs.
Both yoga and Pilates definitely offer great body and mind awareness and help with stress relief. Important for both systems is performing the exercises correctly. Make sure you find a good and knowledgeable teacher whether it is for your yoga practice or for your Pilates sessions. In the end it doesn’t really matter which discipline you chose, as long as you stay active, keep your body moving and lead a balanced lifestyle.
Sabine Fischer is a qualified Pilates teacher based in West Hampstead. She has been teaching group classes locally for the last 10 years, but also works in fully equipped studios in NW London. She is also available for private sessions in your home. For more information please visit www.santispilates.com
Get in touch with Sabine to find out more about Pilates and how it can help you. email@example.com – 07976 183158