Yoga versus Pilates? What is the difference?
I spent a few years working in the Sports Surgery Clinic with Chartered Physiotherapists who are trained in teaching Pilates and this is a question we thrashed out a number of times. What’s the difference? And what’s better?
Key differences we came up with:
Yoga has more standing and balance poses, the effects of which carry over effectively to most sports. Pilates has more mat based movements initially, progressing to standing exercises.
Performance Yoga poses will move your joints through full range safely. Mobility of each joint is one of the cornerstones of movement. The focus of Pilates is on trunk strength and science is ever changing in relation to the carry over effects.
Traditionally, yoga incorporates a very holistic mind/body/spirit approach. Mental well-being is integral to yoga. A similar switch off you get from going for a run can be found in a good yoga class, once you give it a chance.
Goals of both Pilates and Yoga include injury prevention, control of breathing, core strength. A good Yoga teacher should and will incorporate all the benefits and gains of Pilates into the Yoga postures, this is our goal at Performance Yoga. What’s better for you? Rule of thumb. Double jointed, don’t go to Yoga – take Pilates. Stiff as a board, get moving with Yoga. Like any learning environment a lot is down to a decent teacher.
Is Yoga good for cross training?
Cross training is highly recommended by all coaches and sports medicine experts. Cross training can be anything that challenges your body in a different way to your main sport. For example, if you play GAA cross training for you should be non-impact (eg cycling) giving your joints and muscles a chance to recover in between hard training sessions. Yoga is an ideal mobility and core work out. It also gives you the chance to stop – mentally and take a breather from the intensities of training while doing your body some good. My background as a physiotherapist gives me the advantage of knowing what stresses and strains the body is under during a particular sport. For example, if you are a cyclist you’re likely to require glut and hamstring strengthening exercises and back mobility exercises. Performance Yoga is the perfect form of strength and conditioning to address your problem areas. Depending on your activity level different classes will suit different people, speak to me about what level of class you would benefit most from.
I recently had a hip/knee replacement, would Yoga be helpful for recovery or dangerous?
I was fortunate to have worked in an outstanding orthopaedic hospital with many of Ireland’s top surgeons in the Sports Surgery Clinic in Santry, Dublin. While here I treated 100s of Irish patients who had hip and knee surgery. As a Chartered Physiotherapist I am familiar with all post-operative protocols and would ensure that safety is paramount regarding your care. I have specialised experience in designing and delivering post-operative exercise classes. In general I would recommend a patient following surgery to attend a Chartered Physiotherapist within one week of their discharge from hospital for continued physiotherapy treatment and progression of your individual rehabilitation program. After a specific period of time following surgery you would be very welcome to attend a suitable Yoga class (usually 6 weeks following knee replacement and 12 weeks following hip replacement). All poses will be modified to suit individual requirements.
Will Yoga help postural issues?
YES. Definitely. Yoga is all about alignment and breathing. Two key elements to address postural issues. Almost everyone with back pain who attends my clinic needs a few tips regarding their posture to offload the painful area. At the centre of every Yoga pose is a neutral spine, a strong active core and biomechanical alignment. Everyone’s spine has a series of S shaped curves when looking at it from the side profile. The spine curves in at the neck, out around the ribs and gently in again at the lower back. Lifestyle tasks such as sitting at a desk, cycling, golfing can have an effect on our posture. If we do too much of one particular thing our backs adapt to this position placing stresses on our spine and muscles nearby. These changes can be taking place for many years before our body will alert us with a signal from the area to our brain.. pain. Often mild pain can be nothing to worry about, but persistent pain can become debilitating and often a change in posture can make the world of difference. At Performance Yoga Ireland I will notice everyone’s posture at the start of the class using my Physiotherapy skills and ensure that all of your poses will address your postural issues if necessary. If you feel you have had longstanding pain related to your back perhaps speak to me about a one on one assessment to get an accurate diagnosis of your issue and we can progress from there.
Do I have to be super ‘flexible’ to do Yoga?
NO. Not at all. I certainly wasn’t when I started and still have tight areas. Following years of running, cycling, desk work you name it I was restricted in all the typical areas hamstrings, back, calves etc. One of the goals of doing Yoga is to increase strength and length in muscles and gain full functional mobility in every joint of your body. We will gradually address any restricted or weak areas with a graded program of Yoga poses. I have yet to meet someone with perfect mobility, stability, motor control and biomechanical efficiency. In Performance Yoga Ireland I use straps and blocks to modify each pose for the individual. During the poses, you work with the breath to work into your restrictions. I will teach you how to do this and will always describe exactly what you should feel and not feel as you do each pose to get the best effect for your body.
Can I do Yoga if I’m injured?
YES, absolutely. I got into Yoga while injured and unable to run. I, like so many others was experiencing an injury deep into a training season and was stopped in my tracks. It’s a frustrating situation for any athlete. Yoga was recommended to me as ‘something to do while recovering’. That first Yoga class sold it to me and I haven’t looked back. Restrictions were exposed and weak areas were challenged in a safe way. Once the injury healed and my motor control improved I came back to sport stronger than before. All Yoga positions can be specifically modified to protect an injured area to cause it no further harm. As an experienced Chartered Physiotherapist I have the knowledge and expertise to provide medical advice regarding your injury. My experience treating injuries gives you full reassurance that you will work within a safe zone. Speak to me about the injury and when required I will modify poses in the class setting.