Before I ignited my love of Yoga I regularly enjoyed Pilates, for many years I attended a weekly one to one reformer session with a fantastic Pilates teacher. I loved the way Pilates made my body feel and how well I slept afterwards. I benefited from the stretching of my body and also from strengthening my core. Whilst Pilates is no longer part of my regular routine I have a deep appreciation for the practice and what it can do for the body. Stretches might have a different name, but the intention is often the same.
I am often asked.. ‘What is the difference between yoga and pilates?’ I have summarised my thoughts below and also included some recommendations for Pilates classes local to Chichester, West Sussex.
The practices of Yoga and Pilates are very similar but also very unique.
Yoga is a very ancient practice which dates back many hundreds of years. The Sanskrit word Yoga means union of mind, body and soul. The early Upanishads texts talk of meditation, mantras and study of one’s own self and this basis of Hindu philosophy formed the basis of Yoga. The philosophy of yoga is about ourselves and unravelling of yourself.
Patanjali, a great Indian sage is believed to have developed the Yoga Sutras from the ancient texts. It is believed he lived between 500-200 BC, much of what is known about Patanjali has come from legends and stories passed down through the generations. The Yoga Sutras remain fresh and insightful to this day. In the Yoga sutras of Patanjali, the 8 limbs of yoga are explained.
Pilates came much later and has only been in existence for around 100 years, German born Joseph Pilates devised his exercise method in the early 1900’s and named it after himself.
Joseph Pilates presents his method as the art of controlled movements and aims for it to feel like a workout not a therapy. If practised with consistency Pilates improves flexibility, builds strength and develops control and endurance in the entire body. It puts emphasis on alignment, breathing, developing a strong core, and improving coordination and balance.
Many believe the growth and popularity of yoga in the West has taken the practice to be more of an exercise class which doesn’t incorporate the 8 limbs. However any good yoga class will incorporate meditation, pranayama (breathing practices) and asana (physical posture practices) and provide more than just a workout. Classes will be taught by teachers with integrity – who are also practising yoga on a daily basis. A teacher who has integrity may still be working to improve a physical posture, their personal discipline (yama), their meditation practice or their way of being.
Yoga and Pilates can complement each other as part of your overall holistic wellbeing and some of my regular class attendees also attend weekly Pilates classes.
I asked Claire who attends my classes on a regular basis and also practices Pilates to share her thoughts ..
‘I do a Pilates class as well as Yoga, whilst some of the exercises overlap the main difference for me is that Pilates is more physical with a core muscle focus, whereas Yoga is more holistic, mind body and soul.
Pilates breathing is different, as the exercises are more repetitive and it gets my heart rate higher for longer. Yoga, however, gives me the opportunity to breath deeply, take a moment, connect with my surroundings and clear my head.
I really enjoy the combination, I do the classes at different times, one online and the other in person’. She goes on to say ‘Your in person yoga classes offer a lovely experience, everyone is welcome. I look forward to it and always feel like my wellbeing gets a boost’
In my local area Chichester, there are many fantastic Pilates teachers & classes.
Physio-led Pilates: If you are looking for physio led Pilates I recommend Louise Morgan and her team from Chichester Physiotherapy and Pilates. They offer Pilates on a 1:1 in clinic, online via a Facebook group or classes in local venues. All of the classes are taught by experienced Chartered Physiotherapists who have also trained as Pilates teachers. The classes cater for all abilities and run weekly.
Reformer Pilates: Alexs Ellis of Soul Balance Pilates in Fishbourne offers both group classes and private 1:1 sessions. In the 1:1 sessions she offers both mat based or use of specialist equipment such as a Pilates Reformer and Wunda chair.
Group Classes: At the Pavilion at Graylingwell (the venue for my Saturday morning Yoga classes) there are also Pilates classes which take place throughout the week. Cecilie Jacobsen runs classes for all abilities throughout the week.