Pilates has surged into the mainstream during the last associate of decades. In the US alone it is estimated there are more than 11 million regular practitioners. Pilates is a system designed to enhance chief strength and balance by exercises that harmonize mind and body. It is centered on a method called Contrology, wherein the mind is focused and then directed to control the muscles.
Sounds like yoga? It does. In fact, there are practitioners in different parts of the globe who say when you do Pilates it does not only look like you’re doing yoga; that it truly feels like doing yoga.
That brings us to the question: Is Pilates a kind of yoga? Well, let’s take a closer look.
“Pilates” is derived from the name of its German founder, Joseph Pilates, who developed the physical fitness system during World War I. The system was initially used to rehabilitate veterans returning from the war. By 1925, seemingly disillusioned with the political situation in Germany, Pilates migrated to America. He met his wife, Clara, and together they opened a studio in New York City. They personally trained students until the 1960s.
In comparison, yoga is much, much older. Yoga is so old nobody knows who invented it or when. It is however widely accepted that yoga originated in India. This is mainly because the earliest known references to yoga can be found in Hindu texts dating back to 900 BC. More recently, 6,000-year old seals from an ancient Indian civilization that depict locaiongs resembling yoga postures have been discovered.
Clearly, there is a huge amount of disparity in maturity. So how can the two be already considered to be the same? This should not be surprising. Before he established the system, Joseph Pilates was a boxer, a circus performer, and a self-defense instructor. He was into body-building and gymnastics. Most importantly, he was into yoga.
He blended all these disciplines and knowledge to conceive Contrology, which ultimately developed into the system we now call Pilates. Many of the breathing exercises, centering techniques, and controlled movements in Pilates are yoga-inspired. Joseph Pilates knew how these methods can positively affect blood circulation, detoxification, and metabolism because he understood yoga.
Which is Better?
It is really difficult to say which is better because it is difficult to compare, in the first place. Yoga traces its roots from religion and is essentially spiritual. Pilates was originally intended for rehabilitation and, though it involves concentration skills in addition, is mainly focused on the physical.
If Pilates works for you, keep doing it. But if it’s too mild or too intense for you, then try something else. It all depends on whether you’re making progress towards the attainment of your goals in a manner and at a speed you choose.