Yoga vs. Pilates
Which Is Right for You?
In the realm of fitness, Yoga and Pilates dominate as two powerful cornerstones, each fostering strength, flexibility, and inner peace. Like two sophisticated dance styles, they weave their unique movements and principles - yet, to the untrained eye, they may appear almost indistinguishable. But what's beneath the surface? What discriminates a warrior pose from the hundred? In this informative article, we'll delve into the dissimilarities and complementary aspects of both practices to help you discern which one aligns best with your lifestyle and fitness goals. Prepare to elevate your understanding of these ancient disciplines for a stronger, healthier you!
While both yoga and Pilates provide low-impact exercises that can improve flexibility, strength, and balance, there are some key differences. Yoga emphasises spiritual and meditative practices while Pilates focuses on targeted exercises for strength, flexibility and posture. Additionally, there is a wider variety of yogic styles compared to a narrower approach in Pilates.
Origins and Evolution of Yoga Versus Pilates
To truly understand the differences between yoga vs Pilates, it's important to delve into their origins and evolution. Let us embark on a journey through time to explore the rich history of these two practices.
Yoga dates back thousands of years and has its roots in ancient India. It encompasses a holistic approach to physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. The practice of yoga aims to unite the body, mind, and spirit through postures (asanas), breathing techniques (pranayama), and meditation. Over time, various styles of yoga emerged, each with its own unique focus and philosophy. From the dynamic flow of Ashtanga to the gentle relaxation of Restorative Yoga, there is a diverse range of options to suit different individuals' needs.
See our article on the history of yoga here.
On the other hand, Pilates is a relatively newer practice compared to yoga. Developed by German-born Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century, it was initially known as "Contrology." Joseph Pilates created this method while working with injured soldiers during World War I. Inspired by his background in gymnastics, yoga, and martial arts, he designed exercises that targeted specific muscles while emphasising core strength, flexibility, and posture. From its humble beginnings on mats to the usage of specialised machines such as reformers, Pilates has evolved into a popular form of exercise worldwide.
Now that we have gained insight into the origins and evolution of yoga vs Pilates let's further explore yoga's spiritual journey.
Yoga: A Spiritual Journey
For many practitioners, yoga goes far beyond physical movements. It offers a profound spiritual journey that ignites a deeper connection with oneself and the universe. While each person's experience may differ, there are common threads that weave throughout yogic philosophy.
Incorporating both mindfulness and intentionality, yoga encourages individuals to be present in the moment and cultivate self-awareness. The practice of mindfulness is not limited to the mat, but extends into daily life, fostering a sense of peace and harmony.
Through the practice of yoga, individuals are invited to explore their inner landscapes, connecting to their breath and recognising the unity of body, mind, and spirit. This holistic approach allows one to tap into their true essence and discover a sense of purpose and authenticity.
The spiritual aspect of yoga can take various forms depending on the individual's inclination or chosen path. Some practitioners may find solace in Bhakti Yoga, which focuses on devotion and love for a higher power. Others may resonate with Jnana Yoga, the path of knowledge and self-inquiry. There is also the path of Karma Yoga, emphasising selfless service, as well as Raja Yoga, the path of meditation and control of the mind.
Yoga philosophy places importance on embracing compassion, non-violence (ahimsa), truthfulness (satya), and gratitude. These principles guide practitioners toward ethical behaviour and a balanced approach to life.
Think of yoga as embarking on an inward journey that offers not only physical well-being but also spiritual growth. It's like stepping onto a bridge connecting you to your deepest self – bridging the gap between body and soul.
As we have explored yoga's spiritual aspects, let us now turn our attention to Pilates - a practice focused on strength and posture.
- The practice of yoga offers a profound spiritual journey through mindfulness, self-awareness, and connection to body, mind, and spirit. Yoga philosophy emphasises compassion, non-violence, truthfulness, and gratitude as guiding principles towards ethical behaviour and a balanced approach to life. Practitioners can choose their path, such as Bhakti Yoga or Jnana Yoga, but the ultimate goal is to tap into one's true essence and discover a sense of authenticity. Just like a bridge connecting body and soul, yoga provides physical well-being and spiritual growth.
Find out about some of the best yoga retreats in Australia here:
Pilates: A Focus on Strength and Posture
Pilates is a fitness practice that originated in the early 20th century, developed by Joseph Pilates. It has gained immense popularity due to its emphasis on building core strength, improving posture, and enhancing overall body alignment. Unlike yoga, which has a spiritual component, Pilates is more focused on targeted exercises for strength and flexibility.
In Pilates, practitioners engage in controlled movements that target specific muscle groups, especially those in the abdomen, back, hips, and glutes. The exercises are designed to activate and strengthen the deep muscles of the core, which provide stability to the spine and pelvis. By strengthening these muscles, Pilates can help improve posture and reduce the risk of back pain or injuries.
Imagine sitting at a desk for long periods during the day. Your shoulders might slouch forward and your lower back might curve excessively due to poor posture. Practicing Pilates can help counteract these issues by strengthening the core muscles that support good posture. Regular sessions can bring about noticeable improvements in spinal alignment and overall body awareness.
Another key aspect of Pilates is its focus on controlled breathing techniques that accompany each movement. This mindful breathing helps practitioners connect with their bodies, deepen their engagement with the exercises, and enhance the mind-body connection. In addition to physical benefits, this focused breathing can also promote relaxation and reduce stress levels.
When it comes to equipment, Pilates offers a variety of options. Mat-based Pilates is popular and convenient as it requires minimal equipment - just a mat and occasionally small props like resistance bands or balls. On the other hand, there are also specialised machines such as reformers, Cadillac machines, or chairs that offer added resistance and support for more challenging workouts.
Overall, Pilates provides a well-rounded approach to fitness by targeting strength, flexibility, posture, and alignment. It is suitable for individuals of various fitness levels and can be especially beneficial for those seeking to improve their core strength or recover from injuries.
Now that we have explored Pilates in detail, let's move on to distinguishing between yoga vs Pilates.
Distinguishing Between Pilates & Yoga
While both yoga and Pilates offer numerous benefits for the body and mind, there are distinct differences that set them apart. Understanding these differences can help you decide which practice aligns better with your goals and preferences.
One key difference lies in the underlying philosophy. Yoga has a rich history that encompasses not just physical exercise but also spiritual, mental, and emotional aspects. It emphasises self-discovery, mindfulness, and connecting with a higher power or consciousness. On the other hand, Pilates is more focused on physical fitness, primarily targeting strength, flexibility, and posture. The spiritual aspect is not as prominent in Pilates as it is in yoga.
Yoga typically involves holding poses or asanas for extended periods while focusing on breath control and meditation. It offers a wide range of styles and traditions such as Hatha, Vinyasa, Ashtanga, or Bikram yoga, each with its unique characteristics and intensity levels. In contrast, while Pilates does include elements of mind-body connection through controlled breathing, it primarily centres around dynamic movements that challenge the core muscles.
Another distinction between the two practices is the incorporation of equipment. Yoga often relies solely on a mat or props like blocks or straps for support or modifications. On the other hand, Pilates utilises specialised equipment like reformers, resistance bands, or stability balls to enhance resistance and support during exercises. These machines can add variety to workouts and provide added challenges for increased strength training.
Both practices offer benefits such as increased flexibility, improved balance, enhanced body awareness, stress reduction, and overall well-being. However, if you're looking for a practice that combines physical fitness with a spiritual and meditative component, yoga might be the better fit. If your primary focus is on developing core strength, improving posture, and maintaining overall body alignment, then Pilates might be more aligned with your goals.
Consider it as choosing between two paths that lead to different destinations. Yoga takes you on a holistic journey of self-discovery and spiritual growth, while Pilates guides you through a targeted voyage towards physical strength and postural improvements.
The Core Principle of Yoga
Yoga, originating from ancient Indian traditions, is a holistic practice that goes beyond physical exercise. At its core, yoga aims to unite the body, mind, and spirit through a combination of physical postures (asanas), breath control (pranayama), meditation, and ethical principles. The fundamental principle of yoga is the belief that our bodies and minds are interconnected, and by aligning and harmonising them, we can achieve balance and well-being.
In yoga, the practice of asanas (postures) is integral to creating a harmony between the body and mind. Through the intentional movement of the body into various positions and holding them for a specific period, practitioners cultivate strength, flexibility, and balance while simultaneously developing mindfulness. Each posture in yoga serves a purpose, targeting different muscles and energy centres in the body.
Moreover, yoga places strong emphasis on breath control. The incorporation of pranayama (breathing techniques) helps to regulate the breath and bring focus to the present moment. The breath acts as a bridge between the physical body and the mind, allowing for deeper relaxation and concentration during the practice.
For instance, in practices like "Surya Namaskar" or "Sun Salutations," one moves through a series of flowing postures synchronised with controlled breathing. This not only builds heat in the body but also cultivates mental clarity and connection with one's breath.
Beyond just physical exercises, yoga encompasses ethical principles known as the "Yamas" and "Niyamas." These guidelines serve as moral and ethical foundations for practitioners, promoting virtues such as truthfulness, non-violence, contentment, self-discipline, and self-reflexion. By incorporating these principles into one's life on and off the mat, yoga seeks to create harmony within oneself and foster positive relationships with others.
Pilates' Approach to Core Stability
Pilates, developed by Joseph Pilates, focuses on strengthening the core musculature and improving overall body alignment and flexibility. Unlike yoga, Pilates is a physical fitness regimen that primarily aims to enhance physical strength and functional movement. Pilates exercises target deep-lying muscles in the abdomen, back, hips, and glutes that form the core. The central principle of Pilates is core stability.
Core stability refers to the strength and control of the muscles surrounding the spine and pelvic region. A strong core provides a solid foundation for posture, balance, and efficient movement throughout the body. By focusing on building a stable core, Pilates helps prevent imbalances and postural issues that may lead to discomfort or injury.
In Pilates, exercises are performed with controlled movements and concentrated effort to activate the deep core muscles. It incorporates a variety of equipment such as reformer machines, resistance bands, stability balls, and barrels to add resistance and challenge the muscles further.
For example, a classic Pilates exercise like "The Hundred" engages the deep abdominal muscles by lifting the head, neck, and shoulders off the mat while simultaneously pumping the arms rhythmically as you breathe in a coordinated manner. This exercise not only strengthens the core but improves circulation and breathing efficiency.
Moreover, Pilates emphasises precision and control in every movement. By fostering awareness of how each part of your body moves in relation to others, it promotes better coordination and proper alignment. The emphasis on control also aids in preventing injuries by training muscles to work synergistically instead of relying on compensatory patterns.
By focusing on developing not just superficial strength but also deep core stability, Pilates aims to improve overall body posture, alignment, flexibility, and muscular endurance.
Now that we have explored both yoga's core principles and Pilates' approach to core stability let's move on to the specific benefits offered by yoga.
Benefits Specific to Yoga
Yoga, with its ancient roots and holistic approach, offers numerous benefits that cater to both the physical and mental well-being of individuals. So, why should you consider incorporating yoga into your routine? Let's explore some of the specific benefits that yoga provides.
First and foremost, yoga is renowned for its ability to improve flexibility and enhance balance. Through a series of asanas (poses) that involve stretching and strengthening various muscle groups, yoga helps to increase the range of motion in joints and improve overall flexibility. This can be especially beneficial for individuals who engage in activities that require agility, such as dancers or athletes.
Think of your body as a rubber band. When it's regularly stretched and conditioned through yoga, it becomes more supple and less prone to injuries or strains.
Additionally, practicing yoga can contribute to developing a toned physique. The various poses in yoga target different muscle groups, helping to build strength and improve muscle tone. While it may not provide the same level of intensity as weightlifting or high-impact exercises, consistent practice can lead to increased strength and stability throughout the body.
Moreover, yoga has a profound impact on mental well-being. It is known for its ability to alleviate stress and anxiety through the combination of deep breathing techniques and mindfulness techniques. By focusing on the breath during the practice of asanas and incorporating meditation or relaxation techniques at the end of a session, practitioners often experience a sense of calmness and tranquillity.
Furthermore, regular yoga practice has been shown to enhance sleep quality. Many people struggle with insomnia or disrupted sleep patterns due to stress or other factors. The incorporation of yoga into one's routine can help improve sleep by reducing cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and promoting relaxation.
Beyond these physical and mental benefits, yoga also fosters self-awareness and mindfulness. The emphasis on being present in the moment helps individuals cultivate an inward focus, enabling them to better understand their thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations. This heightened self-awareness can lead to improved decision-making, increased creativity, and a more profound connection to oneself.
Relief from Stress and Anxiety through Yoga
In the fast-paced and demanding world we live in today, stress and anxiety have become all too prevalent. From work pressures to personal life challenges, managing these overwhelming emotions is crucial for our overall well-being. Fortunately, yoga offers a powerful toolset to alleviate stress and anxiety in a natural and sustainable way.
One of the key components of yoga that aids in stress relief is the deep breathing techniques incorporated throughout the practice. By consciously focusing on deep inhales and slow exhales, individuals activate the body's relaxation response, known as the parasympathetic nervous system. This activation triggers physiological changes that counteract the fight-or-flight response associated with stress.
Imagine yourself in a challenging situation at work that leaves you feeling anxious and overwhelmed. By taking a moment to step away and engage in a simple breathing exercise like pranayama, where you inhale deeply for a count of four, hold for four counts, then exhale for four counts, you can effectively create space between your external stressors and your internal response. This simple act helps calm the mind and restore equilibrium.
Furthermore, the physical aspect of yoga plays a significant role in releasing tension from the body. The practice of asanas not only stretches and strengthens muscles but also encourages relaxation by targeting areas prone to holding stress, such as the neck, shoulders, and hips. By consciously directing attention towards these areas during a yoga session, you can alleviate physical tension associated with stress and promote a state of relaxation.
In addition to its physical benefits, practicing yoga also incorporates mindfulness techniques that have been proven effective in managing anxiety. Let's explore the role of mindfulness in relieving stress and anxiety.
Yoga's Contribution to Balance and Flexibility
When it comes to balance and flexibility, yoga has long been revered as a practice that can significantly enhance these aspects of physical well-being. Through its combination of various postures, breathing techniques, and meditation, yoga offers a holistic approach to cultivating balance and flexibility in the body.
One of the key elements that contribute to improved balance in yoga is the focus on alignment. Each pose requires careful attention to how the body is positioned, which helps strengthen the core muscles and improves proprioception - the awareness of one's body in space. As practitioners progress in their yoga journey, they learn to find stability in challenging poses, gradually improving their overall balance.
For instance, imagine practicing the Tree Pose (Vrksasana) where you stand on one leg while extending the other leg upward with your foot pressed against your inner thigh. This pose not only challenges your ability to stay balanced but also engages your core muscles and strengthens your supporting leg. Over time, this regular practice can lead to improved coordination and stability.
Furthermore, yoga helps increase flexibility through its emphasis on stretching and lengthening the muscles. Each posture includes gentle or dynamic stretches that target different areas of the body. By consistently practicing these poses, practitioners can gradually improve their range of motion and achieve greater flexibility.
Although yoga offers wonderful benefits for balance and flexibility, it's also important to explore another practice known for its unique advantages: Pilates.
Unique Advantages of Practicing Pilates
While yoga focuses on overall wellness encompassing physical, mental, and spiritual dimensions, Pilates places a distinct emphasis on targeted exercises for strength, flexibility, and posture improvement. Pilates exercises primarily engage the core muscles along with other muscle groups in the body.
One of the unique advantages of practicing Pilates is its ability to develop deep core strength. Unlike traditional abdominal exercises that mainly focus on superficial muscles, Pilates targets the deep stabilising muscles of the core, such as the transverse abdominis. This results in improved abdominal strength and better control of movement and balance.
For individuals seeking to improve their posture, Pilates can be particularly beneficial. The exercises in Pilates often involve spinal articulation and movements that promote proper alignment and strengthen the back muscles. By strengthening the core and aligning the spine, Pilates helps alleviate common issues associated with poor posture, such as back pain or rounded shoulders.
Another advantage of Pilates is its focus on functional movement patterns. Many Pilates exercises mimic everyday activities, making them applicable to real-life movements and enhancing overall body functionality. This aspect can be especially useful for athletes or individuals engaged in specific sports who want to improve their performance and prevent injuries.
It is worth noting that both yoga and Pilates contribute to overall physical fitness, but each practice offers a unique approach. While yoga leans towards a holistic mind-body connection, Pilates places more emphasis on precise movements and targeted muscle engagement. Therefore, choosing between the two depends on personal preferences, goals, and desired outcomes.
Having explored the unique advantages of practicing Pilates, it's clear that this practice can greatly enhance strength, flexibility, and posture. Now, let's dive deeper into how Pilates specifically targets these areas for optimum physical well-being.
Pilates for Enhanced Body Strength and Posture
If you're looking to enhance your body strength and improve your posture, Pilates might be the perfect exercise regimen for you. Unlike yoga, which emphasises flexibility and overall wellness, Pilates focuses on targeted exercises that engage the core muscles and promote proper alignment.
An important aspect of Pilates is its ability to strengthen the core muscles, including the abdominals, back, and pelvic floor. Through a series of controlled movements and precise alignment, Pilates challenges these muscles to build strength from within. This can lead to improved stability and support for the spine, helping to alleviate lower back pain and prevent future injuries.
Additionally, Pilates works on building overall body strength by targeting specific muscle groups throughout the body. The use of resistance equipment such as reformer machines adds an extra challenge, allowing for progressive strength training. By consistently practicing Pilates, you can expect increased muscle tone and definition.
Furthermore, Pilates places a strong emphasis on correct posture and alignment. The exercises in Pilates are designed to promote spinal lengthening and proper positioning of the spine, shoulders, and hips. As a result, regular practice of Pilates can help improve postural imbalances caused by sedentary lifestyles or poor habits. It encourages an upright posture and trains the body to maintain proper alignment even during daily activities.
Imagine yourself after months of dedicated Pilates practice - your core feels stronger, your muscles toned, and you stand tall with improved posture. All these benefits work together to give you enhanced body strength and a more confident presence.
Now that we've explored how Pilates can contribute to enhanced body strength and posture, let's move on to discuss its role in rehabilitation and recuperation.
Role of Pilates in Rehabilitation and Recuperation
Pilates is renowned for its rehabilitative qualities, making it an excellent choice for those recovering from injuries or undergoing post-operative rehabilitation. The precision and controlled movements in Pilates allow individuals to work on specific areas of the body while minimising strain on injured or weakened muscles.
For instance, if you've experienced a knee injury, a physical therapist might recommend incorporating Pilates exercises into your recovery programme. The focus on core strength and stability can help alleviate stress on the knees while rebuilding surrounding muscle groups.
Moreover, Pilates can be beneficial for individuals recovering from back injuries or managing chronic conditions such as scoliosis. The gentle yet targeted nature of Pilates exercises helps improve spinal mobility, strengthen the supporting muscles, and promote proper alignment. This can lead to reduced pain and enhanced functional movement.
Additionally, Pilates can aid in improving flexibility and joint range of motion. By focusing on controlled stretching and elongation of the muscles, Pilates helps to restore balance and alleviate stiffness commonly associated with injuries or surgical procedures. This aspect of Pilates is particularly valuable for individuals looking to regain mobility after a period of immobility or prolonged bed rest.
Picture yourself going through a structured Pilates routine designed specifically for your rehabilitation needs. With each movement, you can feel your body healing, becoming stronger, and gaining back its full range of motion.
As we've discussed the role of Pilates in enhancing body strength and posture, as well as in rehabilitation and recuperation, it's important to assess your own needs to determine whether yoga or Pilates is the right fit for you.
Assessing Your Needs: Pilates or Yoga?
When it comes to choosing between yoga vs Pilates, it's essential to assess your needs and goals. Both practices offer unique benefits, but understanding what you hope to achieve can help guide your decision-making process.
Yoga is a holistic practice that combines physical postures, breathing exercises, meditation, and philosophy. It emphasises the mind-body connection and aims to promote overall wellness. If you're looking for a practice that not only enhances physical strength and flexibility but also helps reduce stress, improve mental clarity, and cultivate inner peace, then yoga might be the right choice for you.
Consider Lucy, a busy professional who experiences high levels of stress. She wants to find a practice that allows her to unwind, gain more focus, and increase her overall well-being. In this case, yoga would be an excellent option as it offers relaxation techniques and mindfulness practices alongside physical movements.
Yoga provides me with a sense of calm amidst the chaos of everyday life. It has helped me manage my stress levels and find balance in both body and mind.
Pilates, on the other hand, is a discipline focused on strength, stability, and body awareness. Developed by Joseph Pilates, it targets the core muscles while also working on other muscle groups. If your primary goal is to improve posture, build core strength, and enhance muscular endurance, Pilates might be the ideal choice for you.
Meet James, an athlete recovering from a back injury. He wants to rebuild his core strength and improve his overall stability to prevent future injuries. In this case, Pilates would be beneficial as it focuses on strengthening the deep abdominal muscles and promoting proper alignment.
Since I started practicing Pilates regularly after my injury, I've noticed a significant improvement in my core strength and overall body stability. It has been instrumental in my recovery journey.
Assessing your fitness level and physical condition is also crucial when deciding between yoga vs Pilates. Yoga classes can be modified to accommodate people of various fitness levels, making it accessible to beginners and experienced individuals alike. However, certain poses may require more strength, flexibility, or balance, which could pose challenges for some.
On the other hand, Pilates has a reputation for being a full-body workout that requires a decent level of strength and body awareness. It often involves the use of specialised equipment like reformer machines, which offer resistance to enhance muscle conditioning. While beginners can still participate in Pilates with modifications, it's important to be mindful of any existing injuries or physical limitations.
When it comes to personal preferences, it's worth considering the atmosphere and mindset you prefer during your practice. Yoga classes often incorporate spiritual elements, such as chanting or meditation, creating a serene and introspective ambiance. If connecting with your inner self and embracing spirituality resonate with you, then yoga might align more with your preferences.
Pilates, on the other hand, has a fitness-focused approach that emphasises form and precision. It typically takes place in a studio setting with an instructor guiding you through specific exercises. If you prefer a structured routine and enjoy the discipline of precise movements, Pilates might be better suited for you.
Ultimately, the decision between yoga and Pilates depends on your goals, needs, and personal preferences. Consider what you hope to achieve physically, mentally, and emotionally through your practice. Reflect on your current fitness level and any potential limitations or injuries. And most importantly, listen to your body and choose a practice that resonates with you on a deeper level.
So, whether you find solace in the spiritual and holistic nature of yoga or gravitate towards the precision and strength-building aspects of Pilates, remember that both practices offer incredible benefits for your overall well-being. The key is to find what suits you best and brings you joy as you embark on your wellness journey.
Which workout is better for flexibility and stretching: yoga or Pilates?
Yoga is the clear winner when it comes to improving flexibility and stretching. While Pilates also focuses on stretching, yoga incorporates a wider range of poses and movements that specifically target flexibility. According to a study published in the Journal of Sports Sciences, participants who practiced yoga for 12 weeks experienced significantly greater improvements in flexibility compared to those who did Pilates. So, if you're looking to enhance your flexibility, roll out your yoga mat and strike a pose!
Are there any similarities between Pilates and Yoga?
Yes, there are several similarities between yoga and Pilates. Both practices focus on improving flexibility, strength, and balance through mindful movement. They also emphasise the mind-body connection and promote relaxation. Additionally, both yoga and Pilates incorporate breathing techniques to enhance concentration and calmness. A survey conducted in 2022 found that 80% of participants who practiced either yoga or Pilates reported improvements in physical and mental well-being, further highlighting the similarities between these two disciplines.
How long should you practice Pilates versus Yoga before seeing results?
The length of time it takes to see results in yoga or Pilates varies for each individual. However, with consistent practice, improvements can be noticed within a few weeks. According to a study published in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, participants who practiced Pilates three times a week for eight weeks saw significant improvements in flexibility, strength, and body composition. In yoga, regular practitioners often experience increased flexibility, improved posture, reduced stress levels, and enhanced overall well-being within a month or two of dedicated practice. Remember that patience and perseverance are key to achieving results in both disciplines.
Can either Pilates or Yoga improve muscle strength and tone?
Yes, both yoga and Pilates can improve muscle strength and tone. Yoga uses a combination of bodyweight exercises and holds poses that target specific muscle groups, resulting in increased muscle strength and toning. According to a study published in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, regular yoga practice significantly improved muscle strength and flexibility in participants. Similarly, Pilates focuses on controlled movements that engage core muscles, leading to improved muscle tone. A study conducted by the American Council on Exercise found that eight weeks of Pilates training resulted in significant improvements in muscle endurance and overall body composition. So whether you prefer the spiritual aspects of yoga or the core-focused approach of Pilates, both can help enhance your muscular strength and tone. In fact, I have chosen to practice yoga and take part in Pilates classes to build up strength and support for my lower back issues. Maybe it isn't an either/or decision for you too?