Pilates or Yoga, which to choose?
I have always been aware of the importance of core stability, right back when I was training to be a physiotherapist at university in 2006. Ever since then I have been aware of pilates and the important role this plays within the rehabilitation sector. It wasn't until 2012 when Stu became injured, when I really saw first hand the true life changing role it played in his ability to walk again, both when he had his legs and when he had to learn to walk with a prosthetic.
Yoga was something that came a little later. It wasn't until I moved to London in 2011, a place where its available on every corner, that I truly gained experience of the benefits Yoga could provide. It was most integral whilst I was training for the London marathon to help me stretch out between training, but this is really where my understanding of the practice stopped. How little did I know. Following the last couple of weeks of intensive Yoga training, I have really been exposed to the benefits that can be achieved from regular practice. The moves, as I first thought, aren't just a challenging sequence for strengthening and lengthening the muscles, but also provide very specific physiological benefits from improved digestion, better lung capacity and even anti ageing. Before you become the skeptic that I was too, there is a science behind each of these and something I will go into more detail in my posts.
So which one do you choose?
Imagine a house, Pilates essentially focuses on strengthening the 'foundations' and Yoga focuses more on the 'brickwork and central electrics'. Without the foundations the house won't stay upright, and if the bricks or central electrics are broken, the house cannot provide its day to day functions.
This is exactly the same for you. Pilates plays a vital role in strengthening our postural/deep core muscles, those which keep us upright all day. Yoga develops flexibility, full body strength and a strong focus on strengthening our mental health, which are essential for overall health and wellbeing.
So both play an equally important role but for very different reasons. As a starting point if you want a mental release, time to focus on you and a session that will truly challenge mind and body, start with Yoga. If you are struggling with specific aches and pains, sit a lot for your job, have issues with your back or want to improve your performance in a specific sport then I recommend starting with pilates.
This is really only the start of what there is to learn about both specialties, but hopefully as a starting point I have given you something to think about and an idea of where you could head first.