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What's the difference between Pilates and yoga?

Both Pilates and yoga focus on developing strength, balance, flexibility, posture and good breathing technique. With its emphasis on the unity between the mind and body, yoga has a more spiritual side.

Pilates focuses on breathing, concentration, centring the 'core', precision, flow, control, awareness, stamina and relaxation. Pilates classes are usually in small groups where the teacher can develop programmes to suit each person’s strengths and weaknesses.

What's the difference between Pilates with apparatus and Pilates on mats?

Joseph Pilates designed his exercises to be performed on specialised apparatus, and later developed mat exercises to allow his students to practise at home.

Exercises are mostly performed on the mat, sometimes using small pieces of equipment such as stretch bands and gym balls.

There are many reports on the health benefits of Pilates. Pilates can help improve posture, muscle tone and flexibility, core strength and joint mobility, as well as relieve stress and tension.

There's some evidence that Pilates can provide pain relief to people with non-specific lower back pain. For the exercises to be effective, they need to be tailored to the individual.

Pilates is a gentle, low-impact form of exercise. Injuries are uncommon. However, it's important that the client should find a qualified teacher and a class suitable to their level to ensure that the routines are not too challenging.

If the client does not exercise already or is recovering from injury, it is advisable to check with a GP, a health professional and the Pilates teacher before starting a class.

Read about the benefits of Pilates

Things to be aware of when starting Pilates classes

Read about how Pilates works