If you’re on the lookout for a new fitness exercise, you have probably skipped through descriptions of numerous styles of yoga and pilates.
At first, these two look similar— the get-ups, accessories, and Instagrammable poses that are seemingly complicated to do.
While there are some noteworthy similarities between these two, pilates and yoga have their own uniqueness. So what are they, and which one has the greater impact on your system?
In this pilates vs yoga guide, let’s explore its definitions, benefits, and differences and weigh them all together to find out which is best for you.
Now, if you’re looking for answers like how thick should your exercise mat be, check out our other article as well.
Pilates vs Yoga: Definitions & Benefits
Pilates is a physical exercise created in the 20th century by Joseph Pilates. It was developed during WWI (World War I) to help soldiers recover from injuries by stretching, strengthening, and energizing specific muscle groups.
Pilates has fewer but more accurate poses to follow the pilates principles— proper alignment, concentration, precision, centering, control, flow, and breathwork.
Joseph Pilates thought that physical and mental health are connected to each other, creating a full-body conditioning method.
Similar to yoga, there are multiple amazing benefits of pilates. It improves your strength, flexibility, shapes specific muscle groups, and focuses on alignment and healthily growing your body.
The true origins of yoga are unclear. However, this therapeutic practice can be traced back 3,000 years ago. This practice impacted some Eastern beliefs, like Buddhism and Hinduism.
Its primary focus is relaxation, breathwork, exercise, proper diet, a positive mindset, and meditation.
Awareness and deep breathing techniques are always present in yoga practice. While there are many styles of yoga, doing several poses and flowing through a series of movements is common in most of its classes.
Yoga is a complete package activity. It combines physical and mental activity, which, if practiced correctly, is very therapeutic. It can improve your breathing awareness while increasing the flow of your energy.
The benefits of yoga are known extensively. Aside from the physical and mental benefits, it can also be used for medical purposes such as reducing anxiety and depression symptoms, chronic pain, hypertension, multiple sclerosis, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, and respiratory problems.
Seven Key Differences
At first glance, it’s really hard to compare pilates and yoga because both seem very alike— maybe because pilates movements were derived from the yoga poses. Let’s keep reading this pilates vs yoga guide to know its seven key differences.
Yoga originated from India and has been used, passed on, and adjusted through the years. Based on its original philosophy, yoga has eight components that all yogis should apply into their lives to achieve true enlightenment.
Pilates, on the flip side, is relatively a new exercise. Joseph Hubert Pilates, a german, created this exercise to primarily help injured soldiers back in WWI.
Through the years, more and more poses from yoga are being applied to Pilates exercises, such as the child’s pose (Balasana), bridge pose (Setu Bandhasana), and the upward plank pose (Purvottanasana).
Possibly, the most critical difference between pilates and yoga is the function of the body and mind.
Pilates fundamentally focuses on your body, while yoga is centered on aligning the body and mind.
Yoga has various styles that improve physical and muscular growth, but it’s more a comprehensive way of life. On the other hand, Pilates has a poor connection to awareness and focuses more on conditioning the whole body.
The practice of modern yoga can be found in some sports too. People who want to explore spirituality and live a more mindful life will find yoga beneficial and a perfect addition to their recreational activity.
Awareness plays a significant role in yoga compared to pilates. In a yoga practice, poses are not only performed to complete a series of movements. Instead, it is performed to impact your entire life primarily.
Yoga’s goal of awareness is to properly handle stress and outer disturbance in a more relaxed way. Similarly, it helps to calm your thoughts and develop a positive mindset for life. Pilates, on the flip side, is all about the athletic perspective.
Both pilates and yoga have multiple different styles. But, the styles of yoga are more diverse compared to those of pilates.
In yoga, there are various styles, like Ashtanga, Bikram, Hatha, Athletic flow, and many more.
In pilates, you can perform it with our without a mat. For example, in classical pilates, you can train without the mat, while in clinical pilates, you need to use a mat to train.
In a yoga practice, there are standing, sitting, lying poses to do. Pilates, on the other hand, focuses only on the core. Moreover, Pilates exercises are typically done with tools such as ring, roll, and balls, whereas in yoga, you can perform with or without a tool.
Pilates is a full-body exercise that is best for anyone who wants a high-intensity workout. It mainly helps muscle improvement, and you usually lose unhealthy fats.
If we compare the various styles of pilates and yoga, we can notice that most pilates styles are more intense and sweaty. Yoga styles, on the flip side, come in multiple different types.
If you want to lose some weight, the high-intensity pilates exercises will bring visible results quicker than those of relaxing exercises of yoga.
Your focus is only one part of your body in every Pilates class: the part between your sternum (breastbone) and the pubic bone. It’s energized with certain pressure workouts and breathing techniques.
This then makes pilates an intensive conditioning for your abdominal and pelvic floor muscles. The positive effects on your body happen faster because of the high-intensive of pilates exercises. So if you want to reduce stress, increase flexibility, release tension, yoga is your best friend. Your body won’t adjust so fast, but it builds up your muscles little by little.
Breathwork is the center of both pilates and yoga exercises. However, they differ in patterns and techniques.
In yoga, breathwork is called “pranayama,” which is an important pillar of the yoga practice. Advisedly, you inhale and exhale through the nose. Depending on the style of yoga, there are multiple breathing techniques such as lion’s breath, oceanic breathing, fire breathing, belly breath, or backup nostril breathing.
Pranayama is intentionally done during yogic exercises. Your breathing goes deeper as you move, and your breathing goes lighter as you change poses.
In pilates, the breathwork is used only to support and has no meditative effects.
So, Which One Is For You?
In the battle of pilates vs yoga, which comes out at the top? Well, this depends on your personal needs and wants from a practice. Either pilates and yoga can bring positive effects to your fitness journey, and you might find that one suits your needs and wants better.
There are few things to consider before entering a class.
First, what are your goals? If you want to shape your body and build muscle growth, you should try pilates. Or, if you’re going to improve your flexibility and relaxation, practicing yoga won’t disappoint.
Second, what type of class would you prefer? For a peaceful class experience, wherein you walk out with a renewed physical and mental, try yoga. If you want to join in a traditional workout, you might enjoy pilates.