Pilates is a gentle method of exercise that targets the body's core to develop long, strong, lean muscles, while teaching your body to move more efficiently. It is well known for providing relief from various kinds of back pain, improving postural problems, and guarding against injury, among many other potential benefits. Pilates starts from the center, teaching you to identify the deep core muscles, using the breath to help engage them fully and use them for support as you learn to align and stabilize the spine. From there we move outward, learning to articulate smoothly through the spine in all directions, and then out to the limbs, considering the proper support and alignment of each joint as the whole body becomes stronger. Pilates helps you develop flexibility within a safe range of motion for each joint, and encourages a deep mind-body connection that only deliberate practice can bring.
While Pilates and Yoga may look similar at a glance, in practice they are very different. Yoga generally involves a series of static postures, while Pilates exercises involve constant movement. While both methods offer great benefits in strength and flexibility, Yoga has a definite emphasis on developing flexibility, while Pilates is very much centered on core strength. Yoga practitioners develop that flexibility through poses which gently take the limbs beyond everyday movements to open the joints, while Pilates keeps the joints within a more functional range. Your choice depends on your goals and personal preferences, and many people find value in practicing both!
Pilates was originally intended as a one-on-one activity, and private instruction offers a level of customization to your individual needs, goals and schedule that group instruction simply cannot offer. At the same time, group classes provide a fun, affordable workout with lots of variety, and movements can be modified to suit the needs of individuals in the group. While individuals may stick with one or the other, many students get the best of both worlds by scheduling regular private sessions along with their group classes. Others choose to learn the basics thoroughly and at their own pace through private instruction, then move into group classes once they have the basics down. The choice comes down to your personal preferences, schedule, and budget.