People often ask which is better for them: Pilates or yoga.
Personal preference is often the best guide to choosing a form of exercise or movement, unless physical issues intervene. And there’s nothing that says people can’t do both. For example, one of our clients returned from her summer holiday convinced that her Pilates classes made all the difference to her yoga practice.
“I couldn’t have done it without the Pilates classes I’ve been taking.” Lori claimed when she returned from an intense yoga retreat this summer.
After a 10 year hiatus from yoga, Lori attended a week long retreat as part of her summer vacation. A lot of the instruction reminded her of Pilates because of its intense focus on the core. Maybe it had always been there and she noticed it more during the retreat because of her Pilates classes. Or perhaps it was the focus of this particular yoga instructor.
In any event, she found herself working from the centre out, like she does in her Pilates classes. She called it bringing her core strength to her yoga practice.
One of Lori’s favourite cues was “See if you can you take the slack out of everywhere.” That reminded her of some of the Pilates cues she’s heard, like cinching her corset, or making herself as small as possible, or feeling the muscles and fascia hugging the bones.
Drawing the body to the centre in yoga poses was a new experience for Lori. Previously yoga had been about aligning the limbs, working more at the extremities. As she put it, “Working from the core made movement easier.”
Altogether, she felt more balanced. She found this ironic in a way, because it was almost as if she achieved at least one of the goals of yoga—moving from the centre—through Pilates.
As I listened to Lori’s story I was struck by how some of the basic Pilates principles of centring, mental focus and control translated so well to a different context.
That’s what teaching Pilates is really about. We want people to learn movement skills that they can take with them wherever they go and whatever they do. We want people to take Pilates out of the studio and into their world.
So maybe the next time someone asks you which is better, Pilates or yoga, the answer should be Pilates for yoga instead of Pilates or yoga. Or better still, Pilates for better movement—anywhere.
Jane Aronovitch is a Pilates & Movement teacher. She is also a writer and author. Her book, Get on it: BOSU Balance Trainer, is available at Body Harmonics, Amazon and Chapters Indigo.
“I love making ideas clear so teachers can directly apply what they learn in concrete and practical ways – and people can make connections, feel better, move with ease, and have fun.”