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The Difference Between Yoga, Pilates, and Assisted Stretching

The Difference Between Yoga, Pilates, and Assisted Stretching

Many people mistakenly believe that Yoga and Pilates are just other forms of an assisted stretch. The three activities are actually very different, and each accomplishes distinct goals! Knowing the key differences between yoga, Pilates, and assisted stretching can help you choose the best activity to achieve your goals. 

Are Yoga and Pilates the Same as Stretching? 

Yoga, Pilates, and Assisted Stretching all have different levels of mental focus and can be tailored to various fitness levels, but they aren’t the same. While some stretching is involved in yoga and Pilates, these activities are not a substitute for incorporating a stretching routine. All three produce very similar benefits, including: 

  • Improving flexibility 
  • Relaxing 
  • Reducing injury risk 
  • Improving posture 
  • Energizing 

The main difference is what each activity is used for. People primarily practice yoga to prepare their minds and bodies for meditation. Those who are interested in a body conditioning routine will benefit from doing Pilates. Finally, an assisted stretch at a Stretch Zone location helps people who want to create and maintain functional flexibility. 

The Goals of Practicing Yoga 

Yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual practice that can promote healing from everyday stress. The goal of practicing this activity is to bring the mind and body together by using specific techniques to develop strength and calmness. Over the years, several interpretations and styles of yoga have been created. Despite this, the primary focus is still to bring together your mind, breath, and body. 

People who practice yoga generally do so for some of the other following reasons: 

Calms the Mind

The techniques used in yoga are wonderful for those wanting to improve their mental health. Depression and anxiety are common disorders, and several studies have shown the practice effectively calms the mind and reduces those symptoms. Practicing yoga creates unity in the mind, body, and spirit, making it an effective therapeutic tool for mental conditions. 

Disease Prevention

Certain yoga poses are great for boosting your immune system and protecting you from diseases and sickness. Yoga is good for disease prevention because it fights inflammation, and moving in and out of certain positions increases lymph drainage. When this happens, your lymphatic system does the following: 

  • Fights infection 
  • Destroys cancerous cells 
  • Disposes of harmful toxins 

Builds Muscle Strength

Although yoga is mainly associated with stretching and flexibility, some types can also increase muscle strength. The practice naturally engages your muscles and is practically a different application of bodyweight exercises. The stronger you are, the less likely you’ll have to deal with discomfort and certain conditions as you get older. Building strength through yoga is balanced with flexibility, unlike if you build strength from lifting weights alone. 

Improves Sleep

Practicing yoga has been shown to help manage insomnia symptoms. Stress and anxiety are the primary reasons some people can’t sleep at night. Since the activity calms the mind, it will make it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. Some studies show that those who practice yoga can fall asleep faster and maintain a deeper sleep for longer. 

Helps You Focus

As a mind-body exercise, yoga can be beneficial for helping individuals focus better. Practicing yoga activates the areas of the brain responsible for executive functioning, attention, and motivation. Since a strong component is focusing on the present, researchers believe that practicing yoga regularly can improve memory, reaction time, and coordination. This is likely because they’re less distracted by their thoughts. 

Improves Bone Health

According to studies, 12 minutes of yoga each day can improve your bone health. In fact, some researchers have found that the activity can prevent and reverse bone loss due to osteoporosis. By improving strength, coordination, balance, and posture, you’re less likely to fall and fracture a bone. 

Most yoga moves are also isometric contractions, meaning they fully engage the muscles without changing their length – the opposite of what happens during a dynamic stretch or movement. This puts more pressure on the bone and opposes one muscle group against the other. This will stimulate bone-making cells known as osteocytes. 

Woman doing pilates in a studio

The Goals of Doing Pilates

Pilates is a low-impact body conditioning routine that can teach people how to move with ease and grace. The activity also builds muscle tone, supports good posture, and balances musculature. Pilates requires slow and controlled movement and primarily targets the core. 

A few principles of Pilates are: 

People may take a Pilates class if they’re interested in doing any of the following: 

Increases Core Strength

All moves used in Pilates require core activation, even if you’re working on a different part of your body. Your core is the center of the body and includes all the surrounding muscles of the trunk. With a strong core, a person can easily support and stabilize their body. Since Pilates puts a lot of emphasis on this area, it’s a great activity for improving its strength and function. 

Improved core strength can prevent the following issues: 

  • Backaches 
  • Hip discomfort 
  • Pelvic floor dysfunction 
  • Builds Muscle Tone 

Pilates is More Focused on Muscle Tone Rather Than Bulk

Having stronger core muscles can make your abdominals look tight and toned. Unlike weightlifting, which makes your muscles short and bulky, Pilates incorporates a more eccentric muscle loading. This creates strong, lean muscles that make your body look more toned. You can get stronger muscles faster by incorporating a healthy combination of eccentric and concentric movements. 

Below are a few of the muscle groups Pilates can target and tone: 

  • Abdominals 
  • Lower back 
  • Hips 
  • Buttocks 

Safe Rehabilitation

Health professionals and sports therapists will agree that Pilates is very beneficial for recovery. It makes sense, given its hospital roots! The movements are slow enough for people to pay close attention to what they’re doing, making it ideal for rehabilitating injuries. Pilates is also a low-impact exercise that can be modified if necessary. 

Besides being a total-body experience that promotes strength and agility, Pilates also produces a sense of satisfaction. 

Improves Balance

Balance is essential for everyone. It helps you get through activities that require coordination, such as walking, twisting, and reaching up. Your powerhouse (the core) needs to be strong and healthy to have good balance. Since Pilates strengthens your core and focuses on alignment, it will also improve your balance and gait. 

Helps with Body Control

Earlier, we listed some of the principles of Pilates. Perhaps the most important of them all is control. There’s a reason the movements are slower than your typical workouts! Being able to control your moves will help you perform them more effectively and ultimately protect your body. 

The slow and controlled motions people make during Pilates can help build awareness of their critical core muscles, which can be helpful in and out of the class. By developing this strong connection, you’re more able to execute movements with better control. This will make your movements more efficient and flow better, putting less strain on your body throughout the day. 

Increases Lung Capacity

Another important principle of Pilates is diaphragmatic breathing, which is known to expand your breathing capacity. This can also improve your lung volume while increasing pulmonary ventilation, which people need for better respiratory function. People who take a Pilates class also use their breath to help guide them through the flow of the move. This can improve the postural cavity and helps you breathe properly. 

An interesting fact about Pilates is that it helps develop your intercostal muscles. This allows individuals to exhale impure air from the body while inhaling pure air. Your circulation to deliver oxygenated blood more efficiently improves from doing Pilates. 

Woman being stretched by a stretch practitioner

The Goals of Assisted Stretching 

Assisted stretching can benefit anyone, especially those who cannot stretch on their own. It involves a stretch practitioner helping someone move their body in ways it can’t do on its own. It’s commonly used during stretch therapy and helps people achieve functional flexibility. 

People who go to a practitioner for assisted stretching are likely trying to do the following: 

Improves Range of Motion

We’re sure you already know how stretching can improve your flexibility and range of motion! With the help of a stretch practitioner, you can stretch farther than you could ever do on your own, especially if you have tight muscles and joints. The activity combats that stiffness, which limits your range of motion, and you could start seeing improvements after a few sessions. 

If your primary goal is to increase your range of motion in a particularly tight area, your stretch practitioner can pay special attention to that area to release tension and help you move better. They’re also willing to teach you some techniques to help you preserve this regained range of motion until you return for your next session. 

Improves Mobility

With a better range of motion, you should move with ease. Having a stretch practitioner assist you with a move can help you move farther than you could have done on your own. Doing this often enough can certainly help with your mobility. A few of the advantages you may notice include: 

  • Better movement efficiency 
  • Freedom of movement 
  • Greater joint range 

Can Improve Their Blood Circulation

Good blood circulation is essential for everyone, as it boosts oxygen levels to the muscles while delivering necessary nutrients. It makes it easier for your arteries to dilate and also decreases their stiffness. Better blood circulation can also reduce your risk of several health problems, like heart disease. 

Ease Stiffness and Tightness

A stretch practitioner’s primary goal is to improve muscle tightness and joint constriction that impacts natural movement. These stiff areas are also more likely to cause aches and affect your gait, which can lead to imbalances. You may notice how limited your movement is if you try to stretch a tight area on your own. This is your body’s way of preventing you from hurting yourself. 

A stretch practitioner is trained to “trick” your muscles into stretching farther so you can get the relief you need. The best part is they know how to do it without straining your muscles. Think about how much better your quality of life will be once you’re finally free from stiffness and tightness limiting your mobility! 

Boost Their Physical Performance

With less tightness and improved mobility, think about how well you can perform physically! This goes for sports, exercise, and even walking through the grocery store. These factors can not only negatively impact your performance but also increase recovery time and leave you more vulnerable to injuries. 

Stretching on your own while you’re sore can be difficult but working with a stretch practitioner helps you target the correct muscle groups. This will help you get back out there and perform your best. 

Reduce and Prevent Body Aches

Everybody can experience soreness and tightness, from athletes to office workers to couch potatoes. Stretching can help loosen those tight muscles and joints from everyday stresses and strains. You’d get a better advantage visiting a stretch practitioner since they can locate the immediate area where you’re experiencing discomfort. Sometimes, it’s not where you’d expect it! 

For example, most people might not even think to stretch their calves if they have lower backaches. However, tight calf muscles can create an upward tension that affects your hamstrings and lower back. After a stretch practitioner helps ease your tight calf muscles, you should notice a reduction in your backaches. 

Can Assisted Stretching Improve Yoga and Pilates Practice? 

Your next question might be if doing one activity can help improve the other (for example, will stretching more help you perform better during yoga). Of course, everybody can and should stretch daily to help them have a better quality of life. Though it can’t necessarily help you become a yoga or Pilates master, it can certainly make it easier to get through the movements. 

If you continue seeing a stretch practitioner to help you move better, you’ll be more inclined to keep doing those activities. With more practice, you’ll definitely improve and get closer to your health goals. The key is to take care of your body! 

Do You Need an Assisted Stretch to Get You Through Your Other Activities? 

If your primary focus is to eliminate body aches and stiffness, practitioner-assisted stretching is the way to go! Regular sessions can increase your active range of motion, helping you feel lighter and younger. When you feel good, you can perform much better during your yoga or Pilates classes. 

Schedule a session at a Stretch Zone near you today. You’ll see how an assisted stretch can help relieve discomfort so you can continue enjoying life.