Which Is Better: Yoga or Pilates?

October 26, 2022
Which Is Better Yoga or Pilates


Yoga or Pilates: Which Is Best for You?

Imagine this situation: You walk past the group fitness studio, and the yoga session catches your attention. Men and women look peaceful and focused as they hold their current posture, being reminded of their breathing by the instructor.

On another day, you make it in time to join a Pilates class. Maybe you thought (as many do) that it would be similar to yoga. You quickly discover that it’s not — and you definitely weren’t expecting to use a machine.

Now you realize that while they have similarities, yoga and Pilates are quite different.

So, which is better: Yoga or Pilates?

Stick with us as we deliver the goods about both yoga and Pilates to help you decide which might work best for your goals.

Table of Contents

Which Is Better, Yoga or Pilates?
5 Similarities of Yoga vs. Pilates
4 Differences Between Yoga and Pilates
Which Is Better for Losing Weight, Yoga or Pilates?
So Which Is Best, Yoga or Pilates?
Body & Brain Yoga Tai Chi Can Help You Build a Healthy Mind, Body, and Soul Through Yoga

Which Is Better, Yoga or Pilates?

Looking to improve your overall health but not sure if you should try yoga or Pilates?

Both yoga and Pilates are great workouts. And while they have similarities, they have vastly different goals, methods, and results.

The better of the two depends on:

• What type of experience you’re looking for
• What health goals you have
• Your mobility and fitness levels
• And more

If you’re ready to talk to someone about your goals, we’d love to help you choose the modality that can help you work toward your goals. Our classes at Body & Brain Yoga Tai Chi combine elements from a variety of Eastern practices to enhance both your physical and mental health.

5 Similarities of Yoga vs. Pilates

#1: Both Focus on Breathwork

Both yoga and Pilates focus on properly using your breath during exercise. Each modality tends to emphasize diaphragmatic breathing — breathing deep into your belly.

The breathwork in yoga is focused more on relaxation. Pilates uses breathwork to energize the muscles.

Being mindful of your breathing can offer great results.

It can help to detoxify your body and can play a role in improving:

• The lymphatic system
• Circulation
• Organs
• Muscle pain; and
• Muscle function

#2: Both Require Mental Focus

You do need to have a good deal of concentration and mental focus for either yoga or Pilates.

But, they can also help to improve your mind. We’ve all had ‘senior moments’ when we can’t find the keys, remember someone’s name, or recall a movie title.

These frustrating times are often caused by stress. While focusing on breathwork or certain postures, you’re allowed to be in the moment, focusing only on what you’re doing. Taking this ‘time-out’ for yourself can help relieve stress — while improving your mental health.

#3: Both Are Low-Impact Exercises

While they are both low-impact, don’t underestimate either.

Both yoga and Pilates can give you a thorough workout — and without the stress on your bones. You’re able to gain from the benefits that both offer without worrying about potential risks to your body that jogging or high-impact cardio can cause to certain people.

#4: Both Can Help With Flexibility

As we age, bone density is lost. Bending down to tie your shoelaces or picking up something from the floor can feel like an impossible feat.

If your movements are restricted, you’re more at risk for trips and falls. Both yoga and Pilates are great exercises for improving your flexibility and for helping to keep you flexible as you age.

#5: It’s Possible to Do Both Without Much Equipment

The basic tools for both yoga and Pilates are:

• Willingness and commitment
• A mat; and
• Comfortable clothes

Many Pilates classes require a special machine or other equipment, but there are many forms of Pilates that you can do with minimal equipment.

And while yoga typically only requires a mat, you may find some yoga classes that offer additional equipment like blocks and straps. These are primarily optional to help with stretching and holding positions.

4 Differences Between Yoga and Pilates

#1: Pilates Is More Physically Demanding Than Yoga

Pilates is specifically designed to be physically challenging. It was created around WWI by a German athlete to help injured soldiers with rehabilitation.

Most people who practice Pilates are in it to increase flexibility and strengthwhile working towards a lean and strong body.

Yoga can also be physically demanding, helping to develop your strength and flexibility — but the focus is on relaxation, meditation, breathwork, and energy.

Yoga can be easily made accessible to those of many fitness levels, allowing those with limited mobility or disabilities to participate.

#2: Yoga Contains a Spiritual Element That Pilates Does Not Have

Pilates doesn’t have the spiritual element that yoga does — Pilates is more geared toward shaping a lean, healthy, and strong body.

Yoga focuses on a healthy and strong:

1. Mind
2. Body; and
3. Spirit/Soul

Yoga is an ancient practice that contains many more meditative aspects than Pilates and is an incredibly spiritual practice for many.

#3: Yoga Can Be Better for Reducing Stress

Yoga’s deep breathing practices can help calm the nervous system and reduce stress.

The School of Physical Education in Greece compared women who practiced yoga and women who practiced Pilates in a 2019 study.

The study found that both yoga and Pilates improved self-reported measures of well-being and psychological distress. However, the yoga group saw a greater improvement.

#4: Some Types of Pilates Require Specialty Equipment

While Pilates can be done with minimal equipment such as a mat, most classes make use of additional equipment or tools.

Many group fitness Pilates classes use a resistance-based machine (there are several trademarked makers and models). They utilize a sliding platform with a foot bar, springs, and pulleys for resistance.

There are other machines used for private lessons or to provide more advanced techniques as well.

Because Pilates often utilizes special equipment, it doesn’t lend itself well to practicing it at home or while traveling — unlike yoga that you can practice anywhere.

If you’re someone who isn’t comfortable going to a gym, Pilates wouldn’t be a good option. Yoga classes can be done online. Body & Brain Yoga Tai Chi is proud to offer online classes that can be done from the comfort of your home.

Which Is Better for Losing Weight, Yoga or Pilates?

Both yoga and Pilates are great options to help you lose weight. It does, however, depend on the type of yoga or Pilates you choose to do as to how many calories you may burn.

This review of several clinical trials found that yoga programs are often effective in promoting weight loss and the prevention of obesity.

The results indicated that the effectiveness was dependent on key features such as:

• Increased frequency of practice
• A longer intervention duration; and
• A home-practice component

A study of obese young women in 2020 found that participating in mat Pilates training was an effective intervention to reduce body fat percentage in obese women.

So Which Is Best, Yoga or Pilates?

Are you still wondering if yoga or Pilates is best for you?

It all depends on your goals.

If you’re looking for something where the main benefit is a lean, strong body, then Pilates might be the best choice for you. Pilates will offer the burn you’re looking for with a big focus on core strength.

So if you’re looking for a low-impact workout that offers a good mix of …

• Flexibility
• Muscle toning; and
• Cardio

… Pilates can help you get the body you desire.

If you’re looking for something that focuses on connecting your mind, body, and soul, yoga can help get you there. Yoga is not only a workout but a chance to de-stress and re-center yourself.

Yoga can offer you:

• Increased flexibility
• Relaxation; and
• A better mind-body connection

Body & Brain Yoga Tai Chi Can Help You Build a Healthy Mind, Body, and Soul Through Yoga

Ready to give yoga a try?

Start your journey to a happier, healthier life with yoga.

Schedule an introductory session today. One of our trained instructors will provide energy-clearing yoga techniques and guidance on how to best utilize our programs.