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Pilates vs Yoga: What Is Better for You?

Pilates vs Yoga; What Is Better for You?

Pilates vs Yoga is not a battle for what is the best workout. It is a question of what you want to achieve; your fitness goals.

Many confuse on how similar or different Pilates and Yoga are from one another. They choose one over the other for wrong reasons.

In this article, we will identify the fundamental similarities and differences between them, what are their benefits, and help you identify the best one for your fitness goals.


Pilates was invented in 1920 by an athlete, Joseph Pilates – for physical rehabilitation and strength. Initially, it was adopted by athletes and sports players from various professions. Later, it was made popular by dancers as it helped them improve their form.

Whereas, Yoga originated more than 5,000 years ago in India, evolving over several centuries, cultures, and other Eastern religion. The purpose of yoga is to mindfulness and connect with one’s consciousness. Over the years, it evolved with various body movements for greater enlightenment.

Fundamental Differences

The perception of Pilates versus Yoga is natural as to how one is introduced to the workouts. We will classify the fundamental differences between them from different aspects to help you gain a better understanding.

1. Purpose

The purpose of Pilates is to strengthen and add flexibility to the overall body with resistance workouts. Initially, athletes such as boxers, martial artists and gymnasts did Pilates following the footsteps of the inventor.

The purpose of Yoga is to improve the overall well-being and mental health through meditation, breathing, and focused movements. With repetitive movements, Yoga works as a therapeutic workout for mind, body, and soul.

2. Types

There are various types of Yoga ranging from Hatha to Kundalini for various purposes touching a deeper level, catering to stress, addiction, creativity and many other physical stimulations. All types have their respective poses, techniques, and regimen.

Pilate types are muscle based focusing one different muscles groups. However, most of them are related to the types of equipment.

3. Equipment

For Pilates, there are several types of equipment – some sophisticated such as Cadillac, reformer, tower, chair, table etc. Pilates also include Mat workouts which focus on the core usually. The equipment helps create resistance providing tons of workouts targeting each muscle group.

For Yoga, a mat is enough to perform almost  all poses.

4. Classes

Most yoga classes have quite flexible routines. With different poses and variations, yogis can create their own routines for classes with thousands of combinations. However, there are some existing popular once such as Bikram and Ashtanga.

Pilate classes are more structured and smaller in size due to dependency on equipment. For Pilates, you cannot find the flexibility of walking into a class; a pre-booking is required.

Both Pilates and Yoga offer online classes which are becoming popular. Mat Pilates is more common online and growing in popularity with easier access to instructors.

Fundamental Similarities

Pilates and Yoga have similarities but each has their own merits.

  • Low impact workouts
  • Use bodyweights mostly for resistance exercises
  • Variety of workouts
  • Work on well-being, health, and recovery

Pilates and yoga can be interchangeably used with some poses. However, each caters different set of benefits.

Read 7 Incredible Things Will Start to Happen Once You Start Doing Pilates

Benefits; Pilates Vs Yoga

Both have similar benefits but to a varied degree. The biggest difference comes into play with the individual’s fitness goal.

Pilates vs Yoga; What Is Better for You?

Here are the benefits of both Pilates and Yoga to make you understand what better aligns with your fitness goals.

1. Weight loss

Yoga and Pilates are great choices for weight loss. Both help tone your body and burn fat at the same time. Although, the nature of workout doesn’t substantially burn calories, but assists weight loss in unexpected ways.

One of the most overlooked aspects of Pilates and Yoga for weight loss is breathing and meditation. Both are practiced through mindful exercises.

Breathing exercise helps intake more oxygen and easily metabolizes fat. Whereas, mindful breathing and exercises release stress, which often interferes with the digestive system.

Bikram Yoga is best for weight loss.

2. Stress-Relief

Stress is the root of many health problems such as headaches, insomnia, cognitive difficulties, and ultimately weight gain.

Both Pilates and Yoga cater to stress significantly. People who do any of these workouts are more content and have happier lives.

Pilates and Yoga, through their fundamental principles, create a physiological response which naturally decreases stress and anxiety.

Yoga is more focused on breathing, which is a prime stress reliever. Hatha Yoga is known for stress relieving, and Jivamukti for spirituality.

3. Health

Weight Loss Diet Plan

Other than stress and anxiety, both have long-term benefits for health.

Pilates and Yoga are often used to decrease the risk of arthritis, chronic respiratory conditions, urinary incontinence, and joint injuries for later years in life.

Joint injuries and other skeletal recoveries are done through focused Yoga and Pilates. Back pain tops the list of skeletal muscle issues among most people.

4. Back Pain

Both Pilates and Yoga are great for relieving chronic back pain. Pilates is about strengthening your spine and Yoga focuses on the flexibility.

Yoga helps in a series of body movements and stretches to help the body be flexible as a whole.  Power Yoga is best for strength and flexibility.

Pilates helps you make resistant movements that improve your posture along with strengthening your spine.

5. Posture

Pilates and Yoga make you appear taller, more confident, and improve the posture.

A flexible body with a stronger spine will help you stay upright and let you perform daily tasks with ease – which require bowing, lifting and moving around doing chores.

Pilates will help you gain overall strength, while Yin Yoga is great for flexibility.

6. Strength

Pilates provide a total body workout as it aligns the spine and strengthens the core. However, the classes vary on what part you want to focus on the most.

Pilates equipment provides more resistance and is better equipped with wide range of strength-based workouts.

Asthanga and Power Yoga provide more athletic and strength based results. Moreover, Yoga provides more compound strengthening rather than focused muscle workout.

7. Running

Many runners underestimate the importance of strengthened core.

A strengthened back and core helped by either of these two workouts can improve posture and form of running.

A weaker core can lead to injuries such as back pain and shin splints.

Pilates and Yoga improve running by enforcing correct form and keeping your body toned.

8. Body Toning

Despite the Ashtanga and Power Yoga, Pilates provides more body toning workouts.

However, for body toning, you need Pilates classes – which has the equipment aligned with your goals.

Pilates is quicker for body toning. It will take longer to tone the body with Yoga.

What is best for you?

By looking at the fundamental differences and benefits, you can make a wise decision on what workout aligns with your fitness goals.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is yoga or pilates better for weight loss?

Any form of cardio training helps in losing weight. Yoga and pilates fall into the same category and work towards weight loss.

Is yoga or pilates better for back pain?

Pilates and yoga work to strengthen the core and back muscles, making it great for any kind of back pain.

Is Pilates a form of yoga?

Pilates and yoga both focus on breath, alignment, balance, strength and flexibility but are not the same or part of the other.

Is yoga or pilates better for posture?

Since they both work towards strengthening the back and the core, it will work towards improving your posture.

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