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staff writer
May 11th, 2011, 12:35 PM
Hello,

We're planning a piece for an upcoming issue of SWIMMER on the benefits and downsides of yoga vs. Pilates. We'll talk to experts of course, but wanted to see if anyone on the forums had a strong opinion one way or the other.

Thanks. Feel free to respond here, or message me privately.

Best,

Laura

swimshark
May 12th, 2011, 07:54 AM
I prefer pilates but I think yoga and the flexibility it gives you is important. With my team, we do versions of pilates core exercises as part of our dry land. The coach feels a strong core is essential to strong swimming - especially to make faster flip turns.

Grif
May 12th, 2011, 08:21 AM
I think that both pilates and yoga are beneficial. They are good for improving muscle imbalances, core strength and flexibility.


These should not be the meat and potatoes of your program however. Both activities include a lot of isometric exercises with long holds in certain positions. When training for perfromance it is best to incorporate movement, and eventually explosive movement. Pilates and Yoga do not address these needs.

jgale
May 12th, 2011, 08:34 AM
I worked with a women who teaches both yoga and pilates last year (Leslie at Pure Movement in Portland) and she recommended pilates over yoga as it is more movement oriented. I have noticed that some of the pilates moves look very similar to a lot of yoga poses. I the pilates classes I took were helpful as part of an overall dry land program.

shadowxvi
May 12th, 2011, 09:41 AM
I think yoga and pilates are both good supplements to swimming I do more yoga though as I like the focus that tends to come with doing yoga (helps me mentally push through those tough moments in a workout/race). Both definitely help flexibility and unless you do it wrong I'm sure help to stave off injury. Think pilates is better cardio though although yoga too can be a workout in that sense as well depending how you do it.

TinaA
May 12th, 2011, 10:36 AM
I have never done Pilates on a regular basis but I do a power vinyasa style yoga nearly every day of the week. I'm swimming better than ever and feel a lot more flexible and powerful in the water. I can also really feel my core strength in the water. Without a yoga practice I doubt I'd be able to translate the instructions from my coach "zip it up or pull in your core" to something happening in the water.
It has also helped me stay focused at practice and at meets. I've had so many positive changes in my life from this yoga practice that I'm starting to teach yoga too.

shadowxvi
May 12th, 2011, 11:20 AM
Totally agree with Tina. Yoga definitely teaches you to be more cognizant about what each muscle in your body is doing and how to better position it for greater effect.

Herb
May 12th, 2011, 04:48 PM
My limited experience with pilates exercises caused me discomfort so I don't have a lot of enthusiasm for it. I like a faster paced yoga. Maybe Yogalates would be good.

aquageek
May 12th, 2011, 05:37 PM
Yoga is an excellent way to embrace life sans deodorant and wear cool hip hemp clothing.

pwb
May 12th, 2011, 05:51 PM
Yoga is an excellent way to embrace life sans deodorant and wear cool hip hemp clothing.You clearly need to come to a yoga class in Scottsdale the next time you're visiting your bro' in Arizona. Think fashionistas + plastic surgery + make-up + skintight clothing. All the single guys I know love these classes.

jim clemmons
May 12th, 2011, 06:16 PM
You clearly need to come to a yoga class in Scottsdale the next time you're visiting your bro' in Arizona. Think fashionistas + plastic surgery + make-up + skintight clothing. All the single guys I know love these classes.

And usually best viewed from the back of the class.

ourswimmer
May 12th, 2011, 10:11 PM
Yoga definitely teaches you to be more cognizant about what each muscle in your body is doing and how to better position it for greater effect.

I think this feature is the same in a well-taught Pilates program as in a well-taught yoga program. Gaining strength and control in the core and in the muscles that stablilze the hips and shoulders means thinking a lot about muscles that most people don't think about.


I think that both pilates and yoga are beneficial. They are good for improving muscle imbalances, core strength and flexibility.

These should not be the meat and potatoes of your program however. Both activities include a lot of isometric exercises with long holds in certain positions. When training for perfromance it is best to incorporate movement, and eventually explosive movement. Pilates and Yoga do not address these needs.

I sort of agree and sort of disagree with this statement. If I had all the time I wish I had for working out and recovering, I'd do more strength training for my large muscles and I'd do more of what Grif calls "explosive movement." But I don't have anywhere near as much workout or recovery time as I would like. I also have naturally hypermobile joints, and a congenital abnormality in my neck vertebrae. So for me, I think that the limited time I do have is better spent making sure that the weakest links in my kinetic chain stay as strong as they can be, so that I can avoid injury and so that I can use what strength I do have as efficiently as possible. That's why I spend more of my dryland time on Pilates than on lifting or other large-muscle strength training.

aquajock
May 12th, 2011, 10:44 PM
I think both have their merits for different reasons. Most pilates classes emphasize core strength, which is imperative for top performance in all sports. Yoga improves balance, flexibility and mental focus. I teach group exercise classes at a spa and active adult resort community including Yogilates, where I meld core and posture work with flexibility and balance training.

The Fortress
May 12th, 2011, 11:23 PM
I think both have their merits for different reasons. Most pilates classes emphasize core strength, which is imperative for top performance in all sports. Yoga improves balance, flexibility and mental focus. I teach group exercise classes at a spa and active adult resort community including Yogilates, where I meld core and posture work with flexibility and balance training.

Susan, are you speaking of the pilates machines or the mat classes? From my experience, the latter are not terribly effective as a means of strengthening the core for competitive athletes (absent a situation like Ourswimmer). I've not used the pilates machines, but my instinct would be that weights & drylands are more effective means of increasing core strength (though I admit there's a higher risk of injury). For these reasons, I prefer yoga and like the combo of swim + drylands + yoga. YMMV

aquajock
May 12th, 2011, 11:42 PM
Susan, are you speaking of the pilates machines or the mat classes?

Mat classes are all that I've experienced (I don't relish the idea of hanging upside down in a reformer). My favorite core activities are V-sit, rowing butterflies, bicycle, reverse curl, ball crunch, ball pass, planks (various angles), ball tilt, and seated stability ball or BOSU (upside down) activities with the medicine ball or involving balance/center of gravity adjustments. When I do corework, I want to a) make sure my transverse obliques are well controlled (so I don't get a protruding belly - for vanity and for internal organ and spinal support) b) that my posture is in proper alignment (spine neutral through abdominal and pelvic girdle control), and c) that I've emphasized functional activities over trunk flexion activities, which don't mimic movements I do in sports.

The Fortress
May 12th, 2011, 11:47 PM
(I don't relish the idea of hanging upside down in a reformer).

:rofl:

analazy
May 13th, 2011, 01:56 AM
never tried yoga or pilates but will try one day…:)
though, around the farm a lot has to be done that demands balance and flexibility:D as well as strength:D working at farm with animals is like going to a gym:applaud::cheerleader:

swimshark
May 13th, 2011, 06:43 AM
Mat classes are all that I've experienced (I don't relish the idea of hanging upside down in a reformer).

A friend has started going to reformer classes recently and I'm excited to join her as soon as I can find time. As a former ballet dancer, the reformer looks like dancing while standing still to me.

want2beafish
May 13th, 2011, 08:50 AM
I've been taking private reformer classes since last September; I started out with twice weekly sessions but am now going once a week because of the expense. I also include power yoga and weights as a part of my dryland routine. I'd have to say that I definitely prefer the reformer to mat, as the reformer helps to really focus on form and getting the most out of the exercises (and you only have to be upside down a little bit :)). That being said, I think I get more out of yoga in terms of overall flexibility and strength. I also enjoy it more. Vinyasa/power yoga feels like a dance to me, and is just about the closest feeling to swimming I can get while out of the water. Pilates is more like a chore that I kind of enjoy once I'm doing it but have to be in the right frame of mind to actually start.

ourswimmer
May 13th, 2011, 12:45 PM
Susan, are you speaking of the pilates machines or the mat classes? From my experience, the latter are not terribly effective as a means of strengthening the core for competitive athletes (absent a situation like Ourswimmer).

I agree that open-level mat classes are not usually very effective, and I'd say further that they are especially ineffective for people who want to work on special stability issues. I started Pilates training about five years ago when my neck problem was acute, and I did it by finding a personal trainer who works in a training practice that includes physical therapists, chiropractors, and massage therapists. The Pilates trainer and the PT worked together to develop my initial training program. Now I do most of my dryland training on my own, and check in with my personal trainer once a month.

IMO, open-level Pilates mat classes at a gym are not usually very effective because:

(1) The point of the training is to strengthen muscles that are usually below the radar. At my gym, I see lots of people in the mat classes who are doing the exercises wrong, using large muscles in an unchallenging way rather than challenging and strenghthening small muscles.

(2) You need to start at a level that fits your ability and work up. I also see people in the classes at my gym trying to do things that they are not strong enough to do, which leads them either to recruit larger muscles and modify the movement so that it isn't really helpful or to hurt themselves.

(3) Because of (1) and (2), a good instructor for an open-level mat class at a gym pretty much has to keep the class always at a very basic level, and has to go slowly. For a person who does have some strength and control in the stability muscles, such a class is not very challenging. I go to one at my gym sometimes just so that I can make myself do something, but I get a better workout when I do it myself.

(I am not, by the way, trying to champion Pilates over yoga, because I've never taken any kind of yoga.)

FlyQueen
May 13th, 2011, 03:34 PM
I used to do a reformer Pilates class and loved it. We did a ton of swimming related exercises and I felt taller when I walked out. That's a big deal for me. Also, There was NO impact, which I love.

Yoga hurts my shoulder and the one and only time I did hot yoga I hurt my back and was in pain for about 6-8 weeks.

You lay down, sit up and stand on the reformer, you do not hang upside down. There are some great Yoga moves and a lot of cross over - I definitely prefer pilates.

cathym
May 14th, 2011, 05:32 PM
I do a yoga class at the gym once a week and a pilates mat class once a week. The instructors are good, the degree of difficulty varies, they give options due to the wide range of abilities of the women in the class.I enjoy the non-competitiveness and meeting new people. I started these classes after I retired, I didn't have time while I was working unless I gave up some swim time and I didn't want to do that. There are studios where one might get more personalized attention but the classes cost more-at the gym they are included in the membership fee. I guess it is like swimming-you can opt for a convenient place to swim or pay more for coaching and other perks. I do download classes from yoga today so I can do them at home and I have an app on the ipad-Namaste yoga-it is a series of 20 minute classes. I would like to see in your article any other suggestions for mobile devices or PC's. I have the Yoga for swimmers video that was featured last year in the Swimmer. I feel that even though I have been doing the Pilates for less than a year it has contributed to strengthening my core.

Plantlady
May 15th, 2011, 01:14 AM
I've done both mat Pilates and a bit of the reformer Pilates before and have tried a couple of yoga classes. For me yoga was a good way to get hurt fast. I have the rotten combination of loose tendons and ligaments and tight muscles. For five years I've been fighting posterior tibial tendonitis in both feet. Due to the loose tendons and ligaments my feet are very flat. Everything hurts them including swimming; swimming just hurts less than any other aerobic exercise. I've found yoga instructors to be very inflexible with regard to accommodations for injuries or weird bodies. They either don't even mention various ways of doing things or flat out don't believe me when I say I can't do poses (or anything else) barefoot. I also can't do plank exercises because of the stress it places on my feet. I always get vibes from yoga instructors that I must be shirking if I refuse to do exercises I know will hurt my body. The Pilates folks are much more understanding; most of them will show you exercise variants

Yoga and Pilates instructors along with physical therapists are always big on stretching. I've come to the unorthodox, heretical conclusion that stretching is bad for my body. Every time I try to do it I hurt worse. I don't think it's possible to stretch muscles without stretching the connecting tendons and ligaments and on me they don't need to be stretched further.

Jan, whose feet are particularly annoying tonight

staff writer
May 15th, 2011, 02:57 PM
Thanks everyone - it seems like we have fans of both and for good reasons.