What's the Difference Between Yoga and Pilates?

Charge Up for Good Health: Expert QA
And which is better for my body?

Both yoga and Pilates are wonderful -- but different -- workouts. Yoga, which means "union" in Sanskrit, is an ancient, philosophic system of exercises designed to unite the body, mind and spirit. A series of postures that combine movement with deep breathing and meditation, yoga strengthens and aligns the entire body. Yoga also promotes spine health, blood flow and relaxation.

Pilates, developed in the 1920s by nurse Joseph Pilates, mainly targets the abdominals and back to strengthen your body's core and improve posture. While the practice borrows from yoga, Pilates requires using your breath to execute a series of precise movements -- so it's not uncommon to lose out on the therapeutic benefits of Pilates because of incorrect breathing and form.

Because basic yoga moves are easy to perform, I believe it's more accessible for a beginner than Pilates. In your very first yoga class, you'll experience increased flexibility and relaxation after just a few minutes. That said, both practices will tone and strengthen your body. Give both a try, but go back to whichever you enjoy the most. This way, you're more likely to stick with it.

Andrea Metcalf is a Chicago-based certified personal and group fitness trainer who blogs on Oprah.com and has appeared on the Today show. To learn more about her fitness programs and projects, visit her website: http://www.AndreaMetcalf.com

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