For years, yoga and pilates have been gaining popularity as a way to work out and maintain a healthy life. While more people may be practicing yoga right now, pilates is becoming much more appealing as more and more celebrities like Jennifer Aniston and Gwyneth Paltrow start revealing their secret to stay so fit is by practicing pilates. So when it comes to pilates vs. yoga, is there one that is more beneficial than the other? If you can only choose one to practice, you'll want to read on to learn the differences between the two.

What're the Similarities?

Yoga and pilates are often compared to one another because they do have a number of similarities such as:

  • You do not need much equipment to practice yoga or pilates. Typically a mat is enough to suffice, but additional props like a block can be incorporated into these exercises.

  • Breathing is a key focus of both these exercises. Deep breathing that fills the belly is used throughout each of these practices.

  • Both can be tailored for beginners or for more advanced fitness professionals.

  • Yoga and pilates, can both significantly reduce stress and improve mental focus.

What're the Differences?


Where they originated

Yoga has been around for over 5,000 years where pilates is a much newer exercise emerging around the mid 20th century. Yoga was first practiced in India and has evolved over the years to include a variety of techniques, styles, and teachings. Pilates was created by Joseph Pilates, as a form of rehabilitation and strength training.


Focus on mind, body and spirit

Pilates keeps a focus on the mind and body. It helps the person practicing pilates to gain a better understanding of how the mind and body are connected and work together. Yoga also focuses on the mind and body connection, but it adds in the spirit element as well. Yoga, unlike pilates, puts focus on the whole mind, body and spirit connection. The inclusion of spirituality through the practice of yoga is often done with some form of meditation which brings about more peace and a feeling of being grounded.


Taking classes

When it comes to compare pilates vs. yoga and the classes that are taught, understand that with both these exercises, it is likely that no two classes will be the same. 

Yoga classes tend to be more flexible with what is taught in each class, offering various sequences, poses and what to focus the mind on. Each class will typically depend on the instructor and what style they prefer to teach. When it comes to pilates, there tends to be more of a routine with the classes. Unlike yoga, you will know what to expect when you go to a pilates class.

During each class, you can expect to gain more strength and improve flexibility but this is done differently through both class. Pilates will put more focus on giving you are full body workout that will help align the spine and strengthen your core muscles. You can expect to do intense movements with either the use of machines, equipment or by utilizing your body's own bodyweight to build the core strength. Yoga will also give you a full body workout but will work out each of the muscles equally. The sequences are taught in a way where each move is followed by a counter pose that keeps the body balanced.


Breathe properly

While both pilates and yoga place a focus on breathing properly, yoga places more of an emphasis on. In pilates, you simply focus on breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth. This, however, when comparing pilates vs yoga, differs a lot. Yoga focuses on taking deep breathes where you inhale and exhale through the nose. Each posture and movement is focused around the breath when you change your position on either the inhale or the exhale. Some sequences in yoga are actually just devoted to holding a pose and focusing on breathing in and out.


The benefits

When choosing between pilates vs yoga, you want to know what benefits you can get from both. 

  • Heart. Through yoga, you get a subtle cardio workout for the most part whether you are taking a beginner class or more advanced class, your heart will do a minor workout. With pilates, your heart will get more of a workout. Even a beginner's class will offer the same cardio burn as a moderate aerobic workout offers.

  • Weight loss. You can expect to burn slightly more calories with pilates than with yoga. A 50 minute yoga class can have you burning between 145 to 250 calories; with pilates, you can expect to burn 175 to 375 calories. While you may not burn off the weight quickly with either of these exercises, you will be less likely to add on weight with regular practice.

  • Strength and flexibility. Both pilates and yoga will help you improve strength and flexibility if done consistently three days a week for at least 8 weeks. Yoga will help improve your flexibility by almost 24 percent while also helping you improve your strength. Pilates will help you significantly improve the core strength and improve flexibility in the back, hips, and hamstrings.

So, Which One Is Better for You?

Pilates and yoga both offer a wide range of health benefits that extend to more than just being physically fit. Trying to decide between pilates vs. yoga may come down to your current health. If you have a health condition, then you want to speak to an instructor of either of these exercises prior to participating.

With yoga, there is more of a focus on stretching the muscles and joints. The spine, wrists, and hips may get more focus than other areas, so those who suffer from severe pain in these regions may find it difficult to practice yoga at the beginning. You may need to start off with beginner classes for a while before taking more advanced classes but, because there are so many varieties of yoga classes, it can be a little easier to find one that will work for you.

If you have suffered from an injury or look for something low impact, then pilates might be more beneficial to you. Pilates also offers variation in the classes but this typically depends on the type of equipment that will be used. Besides, you really need a teacher to avoid any hurt during the practice of pilates. 


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