Answers to some Frequently Asked Questions
What is Hatha Yoga?
The words Hatha and Yoga come from the ancient Sanskrit language of India. Hatha refers to a set of physical exercises known as asanas. YOGA means “union”, “integration” and “discipline”. Many styles of Hatha Yoga have evolved over the years.
Some well known schools of Hatha Yoga are: Kundalini, Yin Yoga, Kripalu, Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Shivananda, Bikram, and of course there are many more.
The different names of these styles of Yoga often pertain to the founder of that particular school of thought, while others describe the type of Yoga or its philosophy.
Not all asanas are taught in the same fashion and the naming of the asanas often differs as well. There is no consensus in the world of yoga on naming asanas. You may come across different names for the same postures and different postures sharing the same names. All root yoga poses have endless variation capabilities.
A traditional Hatha Yoga class is usually a slow-paced class beginning with some simple breathing exercises, seated meditation followed by a warm-up of gentle moves and stretches. Preparing the body and mind is paramount and a prerequisite for performing the asanas (poses). Pausing and relaxing between asanas allows students to become comfortable and feel at ease, allowing the integration of body awareness and the immergence of the true or real self to take shape.
No matter which type or style of Yoga you choose, you will be taught according to the theories and philosophies of that particular school of thought and the interpretation of the teacher.
What is Pilates?
Pilates is a series of mat exercises focused on core strength and body control. Originally developed by Joseph Pilates with over 500 exercises called Contrology, it develops the body uniformly, corrects wrong postures, and restores physical vitality. The Pilates Method is also an excellent rehabilitation system for back, knee, hip, shoulder and repetitive-stress injuries. Pilates can correct the body’s asymmetries and chronic weaknesses to prevent re-injury and to bring the body back into balance. Developing long lean muscles, the body learns to move with control and less effort, making you feel stronger and more confident. What drives people to continue the practice of Pilates for years and years is the tremendous and long lasting transformation they observe in their bodies.
What is the difference between Yoga and Pilates?
Over 20 million people were practicing Yoga in the U.S. and Canada in 2014 and those numbers are likely even higher now as Yoga is at an all-time height of popularity. Pilates, too, is on the rise. The good news is that you don’t have to choose between the two. A lot of people practice both Yoga and Pilates to get just the right balance of benefits.
The Breakdown: Yoga vs. Pilates
While it’s possible that Pilates may in some ways inspire Yoga, Yoga certainly inspired Joseph Pilates, the founder of the Pilates Method. His writing indicates that he studied Yoga himself and that it was his intention to unify mind, body, and spirit, and as a result, many of the benefits of the two techniques are similar.
Both Pilates and Yoga offer stress-relief, flexibility, strength, balance and endurance. The biggest difference between the two is the emphasis on the meditative and spiritual experience in Yoga classes and the focus on core strength in Pilates. Most Pilates classes don’t offer an obvious spiritual component, however, the slow pace of a Pilates class can also be relaxing and stress relieving.
Pilates classes focus on strength, muscle toning and body control, with the main emphasis on core strength. Pilates is a disciplined practice that needs to be done on a regular basis to provide optimal benefits. If you like a more structured workout without the cardio component, or complex postures, this could be the workout for you.
Yoga on the other hand focuses on flexibility, balance and strength, some real physical movements paired with meditation and spiritual nuances. Classes can range from gentle and slow paced to challenging and a good cardio workout. With all the variety, there is a class and a style for everyone.
Should you practice Yoga or Pilates?
The Perfect Combination! You don’t have to choose, Yoga and Pilates complement each other and you can safely get the benefits of both? Generally speaking, you can practice some kind of Yoga almost every day, adding two or three Pilates workouts each week. Enjoy the relaxing components and physical challenges of Yoga, as well as the attention to detail and core work that Pilates provides.
Consider your fitness priorities and level, and build your practice from there. The main thing is that you pick a practice that you Enjoy and that you can do on a regular basis.