More and more professional and top-level athletes are partaking in yoga and Pilates nowadays, including Chicago Cubs ace pitcher Jake Arietta, and mixed martial arts champ Conor McGregor. While both disciplines offer ample benefits, the two activities differ in execution and focus.
Yoga is more about full-body stretching and mindful awareness using static holds; it’s not as core-centric as Pilates, per se, but still taxes those areas nonetheless. (It’s important to know that “core” refers to more than the abs — the obliques, back, glutes — basically just about every muscle group sans the arms and legs are part of the core.) There is also more of a spiritual component to yoga. Pilates discusses the mind-body connection in a more practical way — becoming more flexibly and stronger will help you in everyday life. Yoga instructs you to connect with your inner self as a way to heighten proprioception and overall synergy with the body.
That said, both yoga and Pilates are body-weight activities that will build core strength and improve flexibility. In fact, Pilates has been shown to enhance pelvic stability and improve flexibility in the lower back and legs. Along with flexibility, yoga has been shown to help reduce stress, blood pressure and the risk of cardiovascular disease.
As to why athletes should consider either or both, for one, a stronger core makes you better in any athletic situation by helping the athlete remain more stable and allowing for more production of force to run faster and jump higher. Additionally, when you pound your joints and muscles day in and day out it’s imperative to maintain range of motion, gain flexibility, and to recovery properly. (Of course, P4’s workout supplement Recovery Formula is a perfect thing to help you aid your recovery, as well.)