Yoga Or Pilates: Which Is Better?

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The terms “Yoga” and “Pilates” are often used interchangeably. However, they shouldn’t be mistaken for one another. Some key differences set yoga and Pilates apart, and it’s those differences that make each practice appealing to its respective followers. In this guide, you’ll find out what makes yoga different from Pilates and which one is better for you.

How Yoga And Pilates Differ

About Yoga

Yoga and Pilates differ in many ways, beginning with their origins. Yoga was first practiced in India more than 5,000 years ago and, since then, has evolved into many different branches, including:

Anusara: This allows self-expression through different positions rather than a structured routine.

Yin: This type of yoga is meant to relax the body and mind and lengthen the muscles. It’s also complementary to other types of yoga, including Anusara.

About Pilates

Pilates has evolved over the years, but Pilates isn’t centuries old, unlike yoga. Pilates began in the mid-1900s, and Joseph Pilates, an athlete, created it. He came up with the practice of strengthening and rehabilitating the body. Pilates has also evolved into several different branches, such as:

Stott Pilates: This type of Pilates emphasizes contemporary techniques.

Power Pilates: This classic type of Pilates emphasizes strength and healing.

Of course, the origins aren’t the only thing that makes yoga and Pilates differ. Here are some other differences between the two:

  • Yoga focuses on spirituality through meditation and the mind/body/spirit connection. In contrast, Pilates focuses on the mid/body connection.
  • Pilates workouts aren’t always on a mat. Machinery may be incorporated into the routine, depending on the class and instructor.
  • Pilates classes also tend to be more structured than yoga classes.
  • Yoga puts more of a focus on breathing than Pilates. In yoga, meditation and deep breathing are emphasized, while breathing in Pilates usually consists of breathing through the nose and mouth.

Pros And Cons Of Yoga

To figure out whether yoga or Pilates is better for you, it’s essential to weigh the pros and cons of both. 

Yoga Pros

For yoga, the pros are plenty:

Yoga is therapeutic because many people can find harmony, inner peace, and healing while practicing it. You can: 

  • Boost your flexibility – Studies show that practicing yoga at least three times a week for eight weeks can improve your body’s flexibility.
  • Increase your strength – Studies show that you can develop body strength through regular yoga practice.
  • Develop better stamina – Yoga can increase energy, which is particularly important for athletes.
  • Do yoga virtually anywhere – Since yoga really only requires a mat, you can do it almost anywhere.
  • Relieve back pain and arthritis symptoms. 
  • Reduce the frequency and intensity of hot flashes. 

Yoga Cons

However, yoga has a downside as well. Here are the cons of yoga:

You can overstretch your muscles – which can lead to pulled muscles.

Often yoga doesn’t work your heart – Yoga isn’t a good cardio workout (most of the time). So, if you want to exercise your heart, supplement it with jogging or running.

Yoga might not help you lose weight – You only burn about 150 calories per one-hour yoga class, or 250 calories if you’re doing power yoga. Unfortunately, that’s often not enough to shed the weight. 

Pros And Cons Of Pilates

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Pilates doesn’t offer the softer side of working out that yoga does. Since it doesn’t emphasize the spiritual connection, meditation and finding inner peace aren’t part of the workout. 

Pilates Pros

Pilates often incorporates machinery and rubber balls to work for specific muscle groups and is generally better liked by type-A personalities. Here’s why:

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  • You can work on your abs – Pilates focuses on strengthening your core and is 3 times more effective than yoga at targeting the oblique muscles.
  • Pilates will improve your posture – Because Pilates strengthens the abs and the muscles in the back. It can improve your posture, making your body look taller and leaner.
  • It can give your heart a workout – Advanced Pilates classes can boost your heart rate comparable to speed walking. However, beginner classes don’t get the blood pumping as much.
  • Pilates workouts can be sport-specific – This is good news for athletes who need to target specific muscle groups to improve their sports performance. It can also correct strength imbalances that many athletes develop.

Pilates Cons

Of course, Pilates has a downside, too. Here are some of the cons:

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  • Pilates isn’t an excellent way to lose weight – It would take a lot of work —hour-long advanced sessions for four days a week— to lose weight or maintain weight.
  • It doesn’t work the whole body – Yoga provides a better body workout than Pilates, which focuses on working specific muscle groups.
  • It won’t lengthen your muscles – Pilates may strengthen specific muscle groups. Still, it won’t extend your muscles, as some people claim.

The Verdict

So which provides the better workout? Pilates or yoga? The answer depends on what you’re looking for. Yoga may be better for you if you want an all-around activity that exercises every part of your body. However, if you’re an athlete or want to target specific muscles, Pilates is probably your best bet. But the best way to figure out what works best for you is to try both yoga and Pilates and stick with the one you prefer. You may even find that you like to do both. You’ll get the best of both worlds because yoga and Pilates compliment each other.

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Resource Links:

  • The Impacts of Pilates and Yoga on Health-Promoting Behaviors and Subjective Health Status” via Environmental Research and Public Health
  • “Effects of 30-minute single sessions of yoga and Pilates on frailty in patients with psychiatric disorders: A pilot randomized controlled trial” via International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
  • “A comparative study of the effects of yoga and clinical Pilates training on walking, cognition, respiratory functions, and quality of life in persons with multiple sclerosis: A quasi-experimental study” via Explore
  • “The effects of Pilates and yoga participant’s on engagement in functional movement and individual health level” via Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation