Chris Feld

Can’t decide whether to try Yoga or Pilates? Try “Yogalates” instead!

While yoga and Pilates have some similarities, fundamentally, they are worlds apart. The key to determining which workout you want lies in understanding their core elements and differences.

Although both practices are referred to body-mind practices, one is more so than the other. Yoga is a holistic practice with physical benefits. Pilates is a fitness practice with holistic benefits.

As both a Yoga and Pilates teacher I get asked on almost daily basis which is better. My answer is always ‘It depends what your main focus is going to be.’ Yoga and Pilates are not in competition against one. Actually they actually hugely compliment each other. Practising Pilates will make you a stronger Yogi and practising Yoga will allow you a much greater range of motion and mental focus in Pilates. Yogalates has it’s place too provided the teacher is qualified in both disciplines and can be the perfect starting point before getting into either Yoga or Pilates or simply keep it as its own practice to improve core strength and flexibility while burning calories.

So why Yogalates?

Pilates is a highly structured ‘core-sentric’ exercise regime. If you want to achieve great core strength and control, Pilates is the one. In Yoga the core control often comes secondary due to the complexity of some of the poses that might require you to focus on balance. Some other poses might require a certain amount of flexibility in order to be in the correct alignment to engage the core.  The difference in breath technique in both also makes a huge difference. When you focus on core control the Pilates breath is best, but when you are looking in relaxing the sympathetic nervous system and increasing your range of motion the Yoga Ujjayi breath is best.

The downside in pure Pilates is that it’s completely mat based. However in daily life it’s not lying on the floor that we require a strong core it’s during standing movements, turning and twisting and balancing. True, some of the mat work strength carries over to our other activities, but being able to keep a strong core and back while standing, balancing or in motion requires learned skills. It needs to be practised and this is where Yoga steps in. The Yogic breath allows us to work the sympathetic nervous system in a completely different and deeper way than in Pilates.

In Yogalates we take the benefits of the structured core-centric exercises to create a strong back and core control and we bring the Yoga in to engage the entire body by adding standing poses, movements and balancing while benefiting from the increase in flexibility. This also makes the class more dynamic which is always a added bonus if you are also looking to burn some calories.

If you are looking for a Spiritual practice, take up Yoga. If you want to get into the nitty gritty details of core strength and stability take up Pilates. If you are simply looking for an enjoyable workout that will burn calories, improve both flexibility and core strength without the philosophy Yogalates might be just right for you.

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Chris Feld

I am a Personal Trainer, Yoga Teacher, Functional Training Specialist, Vegan Athlete, Trekker and Climber with an enthusiasm for all things digital.