Pilates vs. Yoga. Which is better?

Posted on Jun 8, 2017

Finally, you have chosen wellness through fitness. However, you cannot decide whether to enroll in a yoga class or Pilates class. It should be noted that the one that you choose will help you attain your fitness goals in order to live a better, healthier, and longer life.

To know which is best for you, consider the different benefits. So, let’s break down the similarities and differences of these two popular exercises. 

The Origins

Yoga was first practiced in India more than 5,000 years ago. It has evolved over the centuries across cultures into many different types: Ashtanga, Bikram, Hatha, and Vineyasa, just to name a few.

On the other hand, Pilates was started in the mid-20th century by an athlete named Joseph Pilates. When he was a young, he suffered from several diseases that limited his mobility, so he developed a set of exercises in the early 1900s as a form of rehabilitation and strengthening.

In the 1960s, Pilates moved from Germany to New York and opened his own studio. Elite dancers and ballerinas became fans of the exercise routine because it had improved their strength, stamina, and flexibility. It was the dance community that brought Pilates into mainstream exercise trends. 

The Similarities

Both Pilates and yoga are centered on stress-relief, flexibility, strength, control, and endurance. They require mental focus.

Stretching is beneficial for yoga and Pilates practitioners. While yoga works by holding postures to strengthen certain muscle groups, Pilates uses controlled movements to stretch muscles.

Breathing is an important focus in both exercise routines. Yoga places deep focus on breathing; hence, a portion of the class is spent on just mastering the proper breathing. As for Pilates, the breathing must go in through the nose, and out through the mouth during the entire session.

Equipment – Yoga and Pilates are both practiced on mats. Generally, no equipment is required, but for yoga beginners, blocks and straps may assist them. Some Pilates classes utilize intricate machines to add extra resistance and support.

Benefits – These two popular workouts teach their practitioners that the mind and body are connected.

Practitioners of these exercises can enjoy various health benefits, such as weight loss, improved self-esteem, and increased energy levels. Doing the routines regularly will help one to experience improved moods, and psychological well-being. 

The Differences

Yes, Pilates and yoga both explore the mind and body connection. However, exploring spirituality is also a crucial part of the yoga routine through Meditation.

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Yoga emphasizes broad muscle groups, balance and meditation. It offers endurance, strength, spirituality, and some really active movement. Classes can range from gentle, nourishing, slow-paced, relaxed sessions to sweaty, powerful workouts. People often enroll in yoga for mental and emotional rehabilitation.

Its classes have flexible routines. Poses, sequences and variations can be combined into a number of routines to create an effective yoga class.

On the contrary, Pilates offers a total body workout with emphasis on aligning the spine and strengthening the core. It also includes muscle toning, body control, and flexibility.

Pilates exercises, typically, are performed by lying supine, prone, or on your side. Expect to perform low-impact muscular strengthening and flexibility exercises on a mat with minimal equipment.

“Pilates moves are held for only about three seconds, so it’s most like Vineyasa yoga. Pilates has more lying, sitting, and kneeling moves—and fewer standing exercises—than yoga,” says Brooke Siler, author of the Women’s Health Big Book of Pilates.

This set of exercises involves movements that are mostly done against resistance, with the abs pulled in and up to support the spine. Breathing is concentrated in the rib cage, so the chest, sides, and back expand on inhalation, but the waist does not.

Siler further stated, “A mat-work Pilates session will burn slightly more calories than a Hatha yoga class, by virtue of a faster pace and the use of weighted resistance.”

If you like a more structured workout without the cardio component, then this type of exercise regimen is suitable for you. It’s used more often for physical rehabilitation. 

In conclusion, one is not better than the other. What suits you is a personal choice depending on your fitness goals, preferences, and accessibility. The main thing is to select a workout routine that you enjoy and that you can do on a regular basis.

Finding a good class will help you get the most fulfilling Pilates or yoga experience. Visit the Pilates Plus studio in Singapore, and check out our recent promotions, packages, and reformer machines that you might be interested in trying out. You can also talk to one of our certified Pilates instructors about your goals and what you’re looking for in a class. 


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We don’t just stop at Pilates, we enjoy Life through Fitness! We are committed to understanding our clients’ fitness needs and assisting our clients to achieve their fitness goals in the most efficient, safe and an enjoyable manner whilst combining Pilates with other functional exercises. 


Photo Credit: Pixabay