Pilates and yoga asana practice both focus on moving and improving the body. As such, there are many similarities between the two in terms of the physical benefits. Both are focused on working mindfully with the body to improve strength, flexibility, mobility and stability. These improvements then filter through the body and can be seen in the posture, core strength, flexibility, muscular endurance, co-oordination, increased or improved breathing and lung capacity and reduced musculoskeletal injuries.
Alisa Wyatt, founder of Pilatesology, wrote an article on “What can Pilates do for your mind” and quotes Romana Kryzanowska, a disciple of Joseph Pilates, saying “You can say what Pilates is in three words. Stretch with strength and control. And the control part is the most important because that makes you use your mind”. Click here to read the full article. Pilates exercises focus on moving the body from the core or the powerhouse which creates strength changes in the body. The physical exercise challenges the body while the specific way of executing the movement challenges the mind. Pilates challenges body and mind because it takes every part of your mind to be aware of where your body is in space and what it is doing.
In a similar way, a strong yoga asana practice, such as those found in Ashatanga, Vinyasa, Iyengar and Synergy yoga, incorporates a lot of body strengthening and mobility work through the varying postures and poses. Most forms of Hatha yoga have a series of poses or postures which the body moves through, often incorporating balancing on one leg, or on the arms. This necessitates mental acuity as the body is placed in positions which are foreign and often exceptionally challenging to the modern body. B.K.S. Iyengar, founder of Iyengar yoga and one of the most iconic teachers of modern yoga, was quoted as saying “It is through the alignment of the body that I discovered the alignment of my mind, self, and intelligence”.