The routines of daily life can be draining, and it can seem easy to neglect one’s mental wellness throughout it all. You can make strides with your mental well-being by starting with exercises that focus not just on the physical but also improve your state of mind and inward peace.

There have been a variety of exercises introduced from different countries and cultures that aim to improve both the mind and body. Some of the most commonly known are Yoga and Pilates.

Yoga Pose

Aside from inner strength, flexibility, endurance, control, and peace of mind, Yoga and Pilates are also beneficial to mental health and stress management due to deep breathing techniques used in both practices. However, the two also differ in many aspects.

Yoga has been around since ancient years while its modern associate, Pilates, was invented 100 years ago by an anatomist, Joseph Pilates. Yoga was originally a traditional practice to give our mind a sharp focus to connect with our higher consciousness through body movement. It is mainly structured to focus on flexibility and broad muscle groups that aim to be relaxing and therapeutic. Pilates does not have a connection with spirituality; rather, its origins come from a practice dedicated to rehabilitating immobilized soldier victims of WW1. Unlike yoga, it is designed to have fewer but more precise movements focusing on total body conditioning through correct alignment and concentration.

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Shing Yiing Ong during a Core Yoga Pilates Fusion class on MixPose

According to Pilates teacher Lottie Murphy, “Yoga uses the body to connect with the mind and the inner self, while Pilates uses mindfulness to connect the inner workings of the body.” Yoga tends to focus more on broad muscle groups and overall flexibility with more emphasis on mental well-being. On the other hand, Pilates focuses more on core strength as the main standard of overall physical fitness, continuously building core strength through a series of exercises. Prof. Greg Whyte, a former Olympian, emphasized, “Generally speaking, Yoga is much more about flexibility and stability. Pilates is strength and stability.”

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Sera Underwood during her yoga class on MixPose

Moreover, Pilates can help Yogis strengthen their core. Pilates provides awareness of one’s center which is useful in several yoga poses, like headstands. It is crucial to remember that yoga and Pilates are not exclusive to each other and many people gain a lot from combining the two regimes. Both offer general flexibility and fitness, and it is vital for the two to be practiced in conjunction with a healthy diet and lifestyle.

Many of the MixPose instructors have prior Pilates experience and often mix Pilates practices inside yoga classes, see if you can spot the difference.

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