If your ideal exercise routine involves low-impact, relaxing and fluid motions, then you’ll love being a yogi or maybe a Pilates enthusiast. Or perhaps both?

Well, while fitness fans have been on a constant Pilates vs yoga debate, you can choose to stay in the middle for optimum benefits.

The question is, which form of exercise will you enjoy more? Their key differences should help you decide.

Pilates and Yoga Defined

Yoga is a mind-body exercise from India since ancient times. Over time, yoga practitioners from all over have increased in number and learned the meditative art of combining body poses with deep breathing.

With a simple mat on the floor, you can perform various types of yoga, from slow-paced yin to dynamic vinyasa.

Pilates, on the other hand, was not introduced until the 1920s by Joseph Pilates. Before it was known as a body-strengthening exercise, Pilates was once a way to help injured soldiers recover.

Nowadays, you can do it to work your abdominal muscles with either a mat or Pilates reformer. Check our review of the best Pilates reformers in Australia in this article.

Pilates VS Yoga: The Benefits

There’s no competition with Pilates and yoga when it comes to health benefits. However, they do have “specialties”, which you can match with your preference and needs.

Yoga, for example, focuses on deep stretching, which increases flexibility. The diaphragmatic breathing involved in each pose can provide stress relief and foster positive thinking, too.

A 2014 study even concluded that yoga reduces symptoms of depression. In turn, having fewer worries leads to better sleep, improved quality of life and disease protection.

While yoga conditions your mental well-being, Pilates focuses on your physical fitness. Specifically, Pilates exercises engage your core muscles, which help align your body and improve posture.

The systematic movement also benefits the joints and rehabilitates injuries. There’s a breathing technique in Pilates, too. But instead of relaxation, its purpose is muscle strengthening.

Woman Doing Yoga

Pilates VS Yoga: The Difference

Indeed, both are excellent forms of exercise and beneficial to the body. But our fitness goals and personal preferences heighten the differences between Pilates and yoga.

While some find yoga relaxing, some think deep stretching is too challenging. Others also tend to favour exercises that build up strength through different pieces of equipment.

Here are a few more points that make Pilates different from yoga.

Stress level reduction

Both Pilates and yoga, or any form of exercise, can boost our mental health. However, according to a 2019 study, a yoga session provides deeper emotional and spiritual effects.

Specifically, moving in time with your breath has a more potent effect on psychological distress. Also, your focus during yoga is to direct your breath towards problem areas in the entire body, which makes you feel calmer and lighter.

Weight loss

Some styles of yoga, like vinyasa, can support your weight management goals. But when comparing Pilates vs yoga, the former has distinct characteristics that make it a more effective exercise.

For instance, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is possible with advanced Pilates. This technique involves more vigorous moves, which lead to increased heart rate and higher caloric burn.

The effects are even better with the help of a Pilates machine as it lets you adjust the tension and make moves more challenging. Secondly, Pilates is an exercise for abdominal strength.

So, if you want a firmer belly plus quicker weight loss results, then a frequent Pilates session is good for you. Check out this article to learn more about Pilates and weight loss.

Body and muscle strength

Yoga stretches the body, which, in turn, strengthens and tones muscles. However, fast-paced and precise Pilates exercises give better results, especially in your chest and core strength.

It is also easier to achieve stronger muscles with a Pilates reformer and its adjustable resistance levels. With yoga, your resistance limit relies on your body weight.

Flexibility and balance

Practitioners often centre the Pilates vs yoga debate on these aspects. While either exercise results in improved flexibility and balance, yoga gives better results.

That’s because stretching in yoga and holding poses for longer lets you reach deeper muscles and connective tissue.

In turn, you get to be more flexible. Yoga also has more balancing exercises that can improve body coordination and stability. This effect makes yoga especially helpful for the elderly and people at risk of slips, trips and falls.

Woman doing pilates exercise

Workout pacing

Are you into fast-paced workouts? Pilates has shorter, precise movements with more muscle control and fewer repetitions. After one move, you can quickly switch to make a new one.

The meditative practice of yoga, on the other hand, is unhurried and relaxed. Practitioners repeat their yoga postures and hold them for extended periods, too.

Workout variety

If you prefer doing various moves using an exercise machine, then go for Pilates. Aside from doing all sorts of movements on a mat, you can upgrade your reformer to grow your Pilates exercise routine.

The sitting box, tower, spine corrector, Pilates poles and extension straps are examples of accessories you can add. The reformer itself has varying spring resistance to match your fitness level and progress later on.

Yoga works with only a few accessories, like blocks and straps, so workout options are not equally extensive. However, I don’t think this factor makes yoga less appealing. After all, fewer exercise accessories mean less expense and clutter!

Pilates vs Yoga: Takeaway

The way I see it, yoga makes you feel good, while Pilates can help you look good. And so, it’s no wonder why these two complement each other.

We need both outcomes to start an active lifestyle and keep at it. But if you think one is better than the other, that’s okay, too.

Either Pilates or yoga will get you on the mat anyway and give your body lots of rewards!

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