Yoga is the best and most time-tested path to physical and mental well-being known to mankind. While some people think of Yoga simply as physical exercise, it is actually a complete system for overall health and well-being. It includes everything from physical postures, personal hygiene, and a healthy diet to premeditation, breathing, and relaxation techniques. The most advanced forms of meditation and self-realization are also a part of Yoga.
Like many forms of exercise, Yoga effectively stretches and strengthens the body. However, Yoga’s greatest benefits come from its profound effects on the internal systems of the body. By bending, stretching, twisting, and flexing in the various postures, we bathe our internal organs with oxygenated blood and vitality. Yoga soothes and tones the nerves and regulates the endocrine system, which is responsible for the production of hormones—one of the keys to both physical and mental health. Yoga improves digestion and elimination, it strengthens the respiratory system, and, most importantly, Yoga is extremely effective in relieving stress—the plague of modern society.
Pilates is a modern version of the ancient movements found in Yoga. From hundreds of poses, a man named Joseph Pilates created a basic system of 34 exercises which can be reduced to something less if we're counting, yet richer if we see its depth. Yes, each Yoga posture has great meaning as does its Pilates counterpart. We boast hundreds, even thousands of movements, but the simple truth is, we only need to know three real functions: movement toward and away from centre and rotation around it. And that's the truth in both Yoga and Pilates practices.
Like Yoga, Pilates addresses the energetic and contracted states found in many people who sit at a desk or behind a wheel 40 plus hours each week. With simple ideas of form and postural principles, it will align the spine and open energy channels. It teaches awareness and centering, flexibility and mobility. It is a system of linked exercises which are also beneficial autonomously. Unlike Yoga, Pilates is always in motion (the movements are isotonic and isokinetic, with a focus on suspension within the movement, whereas Yoga is about holding the poses) and is often broken down into biomechanical pieces for a new student. Pilates places equal importance on stabilizing the body to create mobility in another. Like Yoga, all movements are executed with a focus on breath and alignment. Unlike Yoga, the spiritual dimension is missing.