To yoga or Pilates: that is the question. Or it was with me at least. You see I'd always thought of it as a preference. You either do one or the other - right? Never both. They're just too different.
It's the old verses the new
Looking at their humble beginnings, you can appreciate some of the main differences between these two exercise tribes.
Yoga originated in India over 5,000 years ago and has evolved into various forms that are practised around the world now including Ashtanga, Iyengar, and Vinyasa to name but a few.
Pilates meanwhile is a much younger practice developed by Joseph Pilates during World War I to physically rehabilitate servicemen from their hospital beds. He moved to America some years later, set up an exercise studio and the rest is as they say history.
Both focus on the mind body connection, but only yoga, born to an ancient civilisation, is spiritual. Wait, wait - stay with me. It needn't be kooky or weird, and your yoga teacher will probably only sneak in elements of this for you, but it is there for the taking if ever you want it.
So, which one's better?
When someone asked me which they should do the other day, I went to my stock answer of: "yoga obvs" just stopping short of saying that yoga was... well, better.
Better as a more holistic and well-rounded practice. Better because it plugs you in, connecting you through more focus on your breath. Better because it calms the mind and gives a pause from hectic modern life that nothing else can.
And better because.... oh dear god: I am officially a yoga snob.
A Pilates epiphany
Somehow the yoga vs. Pilates rivalry had gotten the better of me. I'd built up a mountain of preconceptions and been judging Pilates for being a fitness only option - but was that really so bad?
Having never really tried it, I didn't honestly know so I decided to take myself off to my first Pilates class. And guess what? I absolutely loved it!
It was targeted, precise, and switched on even the laziest of muscles in me. It was the minute detail and focus on specific muscle groups that really drew me in. Brilliant - just brilliant.
And there it was; my Pilates epiphany. You don't have to choose. I'm not cheating on yoga by doing Pilates. I should be doing both! They complement each other perfectly.
I still maintain that yoga builds your strength as well as your flexibility (people always seem to think you have to just be bendy for yoga), but the hour long workout my core and glutes got at that Pilates class was second to none.
Yoga will always be my favourite for too many reasons to list here - and if you're a Pilates fan (or even snob!) I'd urge you to come over to the right side and try yoga too.
But seriously, if you've been asking yourself: "to yoga or Pilates?" the answer is: do both!