The Benefits of Yoga & Pilates

The rise in interest for Yoga and Pilates as the preferred fitness activity has boomed across the country whizzing past aerobics in popularity, leaving behind cricket, tennis, dancing…and soccer. Two million Australians now grab a mat, take a breath, and move through a sequence of joyfully named movements at least once a week.

While it’s virtually impossible to calculate how many people make each form of exercise part of their regular routine, it’s often said that yoga, with its countless offshoots and different styles, such as Hatha, Vinyasa, Iyengar and Ashtanga, is the most widely practised exercise system in the world. The system, which is thousands of years old, originated in India and has countless physical and mental benefits. Pilates, on the other hand, developed in Germany in the 1920s by Joseph Pilates, was in its origins a rehabilitation method for injured athletes and dancers and is now considered the go to for improving stability and core strength.

If your aim is to de-stress and recover from the busy modern lifestyle while improving the overall flexibility and strength of your body, yoga is likely to be your activity of choice. “Yoga enables you to achieve and maintain balance between your body, mind and spirit”, says an eager Yogi, “It combines all the movements you need for optimum health and wellbeing, incorporating breathing, body awareness and meditation techniques to improve circulation and posture”.

Pilates is all about improving core strength and stability. “The lack of a strong core is usually responsible for your back problems” says our resident Chiropractor Dr Raffi. Pilates exercises involve a combination of hundreds of gymnastics, yoga and ballet exercises adapted and taught in a way to suit everyone and of all fitness levels. Pilates classes involve moving through exercises using the core muscles and controlling breath. The quality of each posture is more important than the number of repetitions.

Ultimately, both practices will create similar benefits (toning, weight loss, improvements to your well-being) if done regularly and intensively. Which one is ‘better’? The trick is to try a little of each and see what works for you. If you have specific goals for your training, one discipline may have the edge over the other. If recovery from injury or strengthening weak joints is a priority, Pilates is probably going to give you optimum benefits. Meanwhile, going to your Yoga mat will see to recharge the body and mind, inevitably toning and strengthening all of the muscles of the body.

While there are yoga and Pilates purists who argue that one is better than the other, “The important thing to remember is that all movement is good movement, and the best exercise is always the one that you prefer – as this leads to consistency, improved results and long-term results” Says Dr Raffi. The best strategy? Give it a go and see what sticks.

So, why Yoga and Pilates? For an overall sense
of wellbeing! You won’t know how good it feels
until you try it