Pilates vs. yoga therapy – which is better for you?

Low intensity, low impact and inclusive for just about any one, yoga and Pilates interest has exploded through Toronto neighbourhoods. From yoga sessions in the parks, to virtual Pilates classes, both yoga and Pilates can be great options for your health and as a bonus to your exercise routine. The two exercises are similar, but, there are some differences between yoga and Pilates that can help you decide which exercise, or therapy, is better for you.

With help from a trained physiotherapist, you may even be able to bring yoga therapy and Pilates therapy into your treatment plan. Yes, these wonderful forms of low-impact exercise can play a major part in your recovery and healing process.

The key differences between Pilates and yoga

Understanding yoga

Thousands of years ago, the sacred practice of yoga originated in India. With a focus on spirituality, breathing control, meditation, yoga is a practice that has flowed across our entire globe. Today, a large and growing part of Toronto’s community has embraced a yoga practice.

While spiritual in nature, yoga is a brilliant form of gentle exercise which is accessible and adaptable for most of us. Especially as we see our stress levels growing here in Toronto and beyond, yoga is one way to practice self care and relieve mental strain while physically thanking your body. As a meditative practice, yoga can help you to soothe your body and your mind. In terms of equipment, typically all you need to begin practicing yoga is a yoga mat. For beginners and people with existing injuries, it is also a good idea to get some props such as yoga blocks and straps to assist you with modifying the pose for injury prevention.

Understanding Pilates

In comparison to yoga, Pilates was invented in the 1920s by a “physical culturalist” named Joseph Pilates. The goals of Pilates were focused on physical rehabilitation. With the aim to strengthen your core, improve your posture, develop your balance and increase your body’s strength, Pilates has developed and grown over the years and is still seen as a key tool for physical rehabilitation. In terms of equipment, there are many props used in Pilates such as swivel discs, resistance bands, balance domes, and magic circles. These are designed to help with strengthening and toning the right muscles. Besides the props, Pilates machines such as the reformer, barrel, Cadillac, spring wall, and stability chair also enhance your training experience by challenging the body in different ways.

Like yoga, Pilates shares similar goals through focusing on breathing techniques and achieving proper alignment during poses. However, unlike yoga, movements and postures in Pilates are held for shorter periods of time and are usually not repeated during an exercise session. For Pilates, the focus is on the control of the movement.

What is Pilates therapy?

Pilates therapy is excellent for: 

  • Body awareness
  • Increasing the body’s overall strength
  • Increasing the body’s overall flexibility
  • Elongating the spine
  • Increasing core strength
  • Developing balance
  • Physical injury prevention
  • Increasing muscle endurance 

With Pilates therapy, you may work with a trained physiotherapist to bring Pilates movements into your treatment plan. Especially for those experiencing painful muscle conditions or body pain related to exercise, Pilates therapy could be an option during your physio treatment. An incredible tool in the physiotherapist’s healing kit, Pilates can help you get stronger faster on your physical rehabilitation journey.

What is yoga therapy?

Yoga therapy is excellent for: 

  • Managing pain or pain reduction
  • Improve flexibility
  • Improve mobility
  • Improve symptoms of fatigue or sleeplessness

Working with a certified yoga teacher with a physical rehabilitation background can help you recover from your injuries through pose modification and create an exercise program targeting your muscle imbalance so that you can develop the strength and flexibility needed to support you in certain yoga poses. 

At InvigoPhysio, Trang Bui is a professional physiotherapist specializing in pelvic floor health and a passionate movement educator specializing in Pilates and yoga therapy. With a special focus on women’s health needs, InvigoPhysio believes in a holistic treatment approach integrating both yoga and Pilates therapy into your movement retraining program.

We offer prenatal care, birth preparation, postpartum healing and menopause support. We provide customized treatment for ab separation, cesarean scar pain, incontinence, lower back pain, hip pain, pelvic floor pain and disorders, prolapse and more. So whether that looks like yoga therapy, Pilates therapy, a combination or something else entirely, InvigoPhysio here for you. 

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