THE BLOG

Yoga and Pilates - A Comparative Study

25/03/2014 12:41 GMT | Updated 25/05/2014 10:59 BST

I am not a gym person ! Once in the 90s a friend dragged me to a step class, I couldn't co-ordinate my feet let alone my hands and arms.

I suffer from of RSI (repetitive strain injury) and have spent the past decade trying to figure out how to manage my symptoms. Stopping writing is not an option. Eventually a friend suggested pilates and finally I took control of my posture and my body.

Next I discovered yoga. Now I prefer yoga, I like the flowing sequences, the meditation. I really like what I call 'lying down yoga' - official term 'restorative yoga'. It is bliss on a Friday evening, after a hard week at the desk. You lie in certain positions holding each one for about ten minutes, as in shavasana (resting pose), then change to the other side and other postures. Sounds terribly lazy - but after an hour you still leave feeling gently stretched and relaxed.

A year ago, after a bad period of RSI, I discovered my local pilates studio and started taking one to one classes, using some of the pilates equipment and exercises which my teacher tailored to suit my needs. We focused on lots of neck stretches, spine roll downs and chest openers, dumb waiter for my shoulder blades, plus the obligatory core strength work, which hopefully helps me hold my posture my more correctly. Now my early Saturday morning group class, with only three students, undoes a week of typing and gives me energy and enthusiasm for the weekend's activites.

Pilates is great for targeting certain muscles, recovering from injury and overall core strength and flexibility. It can repetitive and boring, but the smaller classes in a pilates studio using the equipment, reformers etc, suits me better than large group classes.

Yoga is great for relaxing, stretching, over-all strength and flexibility and accepting yourself and your limitations. Beware of the different types and do your research. As a beginner I once found myself in an astanga class, really fast flowing asanas, it terrified me, but clearly by the size of the class other people love it. I am not so keen on yoga's nostril breathing, chanting and offering things up, the more hippy dippy side, but I like the flow of sun salutations and emphasis on relaxation.

Now I hold my tummy in when I climb the stairs and do roll downs whenever I can, plus occasional sun salutations and downward facing dogs. There is tons of cross over between yoga and pilates and as a fan of both I suggest, trying out different styles and different teachers to find out what suits you best. But whatever you do, remember 'just be who you are you today'.