Summer is quickly in-coming and perhaps you’re not quite as beach ready as you’d hoped! That honed and toned physique that you made a start on in January and quickly forgot about in February needs a bit of emergency TLC before you step into that one-piece and hit the beach!

You might be sat reading this blog post after doing a bit of online research. Trying to decide which exercise is best for you to achieve those beach body goals. Two options that come up time and time again are Yoga and Pilates. They’re often considered (by those who’ve never practised either!) to be interchangeable.

You’re curious as to know how they differ? Don’t they both use a mat? Can they really deliver a whole body workout?

Quite often both are disregarded (by the quite frankly uninitiated!) for being too slow, too easy, not challenging enough. Well, let’s stop you right there! Pilates and Yoga are starkly different but also massively similar, especially in one significant respect! They are both far more challenging and rewarding than you might have ever imagined.

So let’s take a look at the key differences between Yoga and Pilates.

1. The varying histories

Yoga spawns a sacred history of some 5000+ years so you can’t argue with its longevity. It’s not a one-hit wonder, fad form of exercise. Although we suspect that goat yoga might fall into that category! It involves the practice of a series of asanas (postures) combined with breath control to deliver multiple benefits, including building strength and flexibility of the body, combined with calming and quietening the mind. It’s the ultimate mind, body, spirit connection.

Pilates, on the other hand, is distinctly more new age! That said, you may be surprised to find out that it was developed almost a century ago by Joseph Pilates who first introduced the early principles of Pilates back in 1925. Initially, it was used for physical rehabilitation purposes. Pilates has developed dramatically since those early days but the key benefits associated with Pilates of strengthening the core, improving posture and stability and developing overall strength, remain intact.

2. It’s about more than just a mat

Both forms of exercise work the body in productive ways and while you can use blocks, straps and wheels in Yoga, typically you need nothing more than a mat.

Pilates, on the other hand, can be mat based, yes, but you will also find classes using the Reformer, Cadillac and Tower. For the most part, they utilise what is best described as a pulley system with various springs added to provide more or less resistance. It’s not unusual for a reformer based Pilates class to additionally incorporate equipment such as hand weights, magic circles and wooden dowels to encourage a more challenging workout. At our friendly , local studio here in Brentwood, we have access to state of the art equipment, including Reformer machines.The mind, body, spirit connection

3. The mind, body, spirit connection

At its essence, Yoga was and still is intended to be a meditative practise. There’s no denying that an hour on the matt will do as much to reduce your stress levels as it will define those triceps.

Pilates is more of a traditional exercise workout. While the breath is incredibly important, the origins of Pilates is based around rehabilitation, rather than taking you on the road to spiritual enlightenment. That said, we have plenty of men and women who we like to think have become more enlightened since stepping through our doors! We definitely have plenty who’ve made fiends and learned how to move better.

4. The method and the moves

Your own body is the primary tool used in Yoga. It forgoes machines of any kind and typically ends with a savasana, a deep form of recuperative relaxation. Poses are usually held for a longer duration, enabling the body to fall deeper into each asana and quite often, connected sequences are repeated.

In Reformer based Pilates classes, the body is switched on throughout your practise by being placed into challenging and unstable positions using the Reformer machine. This, in turn, requires muscle control and stability to maintain those challenging positions. In Pilates, you tend to get through a lot of different movements, working one body part before moving on to challenging the next, resulting in long, lean and toned muscles.Alignment and intention

5. The method and the moves

In Yoga, the focus is very much inwards. Aligning your mind with your body and setting your intention. It’s about finding calmness within, internalising your practise.

With Pilates, the attention is more on the physical alignment, correcting posture, bringing precision and control to your movement and systematically working the body.The final result

6. Alignment and intention

Here’s the part you’ve all been waiting for right? Depending upon what you are hoping to achieve, Yoga, Pilates or perhaps a combination of the two might be what your body craves.

Yoga works your entire body and can give you that mental edge. With Pilates you can be more targeted, strategically firing up those powerhouse core muscles and delivering that deep down stability your body needs.

Both disciplines will help give you the confidence to own your body this summer. If you just so happen to be taking that body to the beach, then lucky you! Just don’t forget to send us a postcard.