It’s the new year, and you’re ready to commit to a healthier lifestyle. Congratulations! The first step towards a healthier lifestyle is the toughest, and I commend you for taking the initiative.
Whether you are looking to lose weight, become healthier, increase energy, or learn a new exercise, Yoga and Pilates can get you there. In fact, you will soon learn the laundry list of benefits both can provide and how they can radically change your health and fitness for the better.
Now, I know, most of us live both busy and often stressful lives. I’m right there with you. Work, family, friends, to-do lists…it can sometimes become difficult to find time for ourselves.
You’ve likely heard of Yoga and Pilates but may not have time to commit to both. And I completely understand! That’s what this guide is all about. It’s to compare Yoga vs Pilates and to guide you in making the best decision for you. So…let’s begin right now and get you on your Yoga or Pilate mat TODAY.
Comparison: Yoga vs Pilates
From the outside, when looking at Yoga vs Pilates, one could say they look similar. For example:
- Both Yoga and mat Pilates can be done with little equipment.
- They both focus on using the breath properly during exercise and emphasize diaphragmatic breathing, or breathing deep into the belly
- Both yoga and Pilates require mental focus and can help reduce stress.
However, what you’ll soon realize is that even though they have a few things in common, this does not make them the same. In fact, there are a number of differences.
Please reference the table below for a quick view of Yoga vs Pilates and continue reading for a more in-depth look at each.
|Definition||Exercise for the mind, body, and soul.||Exercise for the mind and body.|
|History||5,000 to 10,000 years ago.||1920’s.|
|Fight Disease||High blood pressure, heart disease, pain, insomnia, stress, and anxiety.||Parkinson, Lyme, and many autoimmune diseases.|
|Injury||Injury prevention||Injury recovery.|
|Benefits||Increased flexibility, increased muscle strength and tone, improved respiration, energy and vitality, weight reduction, protection from injury, reduces stress, lowers depression, reduces stress and anxiety, encourages mindfulness and improves brain function.||Increase flexibility, increase muscle strength and tone, improved balance and posture, strengths core, shapes abdominals, creates a balanced body, increased mental focus, and increased stamina.|
|Gear||Mat, blocks, strap, and bag.||Machines, chairs, tables, rings, balls, mats, and bolsters|
When defining Yoga, the Merriam-Webster dictionary splits the definition in two. One explanation is from the capitalized form of Yoga, and the other as a lower case.
In the capitalized form, it’s defined as…
“a Hindu theistic philosophy teaching the suppression of all activity of body, mind, and will in order that the self may realize its distinction from them and attain liberation”
In the lower-case form, it’s defined as…
“a system of physical postures, breathing techniques, and sometimes meditation derived from Yoga but often practiced independently, especially in Western cultures to promote physical and emotional well-being.”
To sum it up neatly: yoga is the purpose of connecting the individual consciousness with the universal consciousness through physical activity. In other words, it’s not only about improving a person’s physical fitness and health but their spiritual and emotional health as well.
Going back to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, Pilates is defined as…
“An exercise regimen that is typically performed on a floor mat or with the use of specialized apparatus and aims to improve flexibility and stability by strengthening the muscles and especially the torso-stabilizing muscles of the abdomen and lower back.”
There are six fundamental principles of Pilates: concentration, control, centering, breathing, flow, and precision.
Overall, Pilates focuses on mind and body, whereas Yoga focuses on mind, body, and soul.
Now that you know the definitions, you may be wondering about the history. You may be asking yourself, “Where on earth did Yoga and Pilates come from?”
And although we don’t know precisely when Yoga began, we do know it originated in India more than 5,000 years ago although some experts claim to 10,000 years.
Regardless of Yoga’s uncertain start date, we do know it was solely practiced in the East until the late 1800s and early 1900s. It was this time when yogis began traveling west, taking their practice to the Western world where it caught on quick.
You could even say that Yoga blazed the trail for other mindful approaches to exercise like Pilates. With that said, it wasn’t until the 1920s when a physical trainer by the name of Joseph Pilates created Pilates. Originally, it was invented for the purpose of rehabilitation but quickly became a popular fitness trend for building strength and losing weight.
And yes, I understand, choosing to perform Yoga or Pilates isn’t always about weight loss and an admirable physique. Many people use it to complement a healthy lifestyle as they are effective tools for fighting disease.
Yoga is considered one of the best complementary and integrative health approaches in the world. Studies have shown that it helps with stress and anxiety by relaxing the mind and body while practicing movement for medicine.
Studies also show that Yoga has helped reduce the risk of the factors of different chronic conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease, pain, insomnia, and many others.
Pilates, on the other hand, is still relatively new so there isn’t much information on fighting disease. Nevertheless, some studies have already shown Pilates to help with Parkinson, Lyme, and many autoimmune disorders.
But, diseases aren’t the only problems we face from an unhealthy lifestyle. Many of us suffer injuries while having a tough time preventing and recovering from them.
So that brings us to the question, which is better for dealing with injuries when comparing Yoga vs Pilate?
Well, first you should understand both can help prevent and recover from injuries, however, both can cause them also. So be careful. Don’t rush the process.
Neither discipline should be result-driven, but process-focused instead. Focus on gradual progress. Meaning, with a diligent effort, each small step forward becomes the foundation of future growth.
If you rush, you are asking for problems. Some of the most common injuries from performing Yoga and Pilates incorrectly are hamstring, wrist, shoulder, knee, and back injuries.
However, if done correctly, and with patience, both Yoga and Pilates are effective for injury rehabilitation. As we’ve already discussed, Pilates was initially created for recovery before it became popular in the cardio and fitness scene.
Here’s why: most injuries occur because of a muscular imbalance within the body. We sit in cars and desks all day, developing poor posture. We have poor technique in the way we sit, stand, and walk. This imbalance we create puts extra pressure on some muscles, and at the same time, weakens others.
What Yoga and Pilates can do is create balance in the body and strengthen the core. Over time, this balance helps you develop the best posture and allows the big muscles to do the big work and the small muscles to do the small work.
So, what’s the difference? Which practice is better for dealing with injuries, Yoga vs Pilates?
Well, since Pilates was originally created for rehabilitation, you can be sure the movements will help you recover from injury. It’s a series of targeted actions for just that, helping with injury and chronic pain.
On the other hand, Yoga is a lifestyle, not just a form of exercise. It’s helpful for building a strong core, and stretching muscles to prevent injury. Remember, flexibility creates longevity. From experience, it compliments others sports greatly in preventing injuries. It’s helped me in my running, biking, and swimming.
Simply put, Yoga is geared towards injury prevention, although it can be used for injury recovery. And Pilates is geared towards injury recovery, although it can be used for injury prevention.
Benefit of Yoga and Pilates
When looking at Yoga vs Pilates, there are many benefits to consider. Below are some of the most common advantages for both. View them to further help you decide which is best for you.
Evidence suggests that Yoga helps with:
- increased flexibility
- increased muscle strength and tone
- improved respiration, energy and vitality
- weight reduction
- protection from injury
- reduces stress
- lowers depression
- reduces stress and anxiety
- encourages mindfulness
- improves brain function
Evidence suggests that Pilates helps with:
- increase flexibility
- increase muscle strength and tone
- improved balance and posture
- strengths core, shapes abdominals
- creates a balanced body
- increased mental focus
- increased stamina
How to choose between Yoga vs Pilates
Based on what we’ve discussed thus far, choosing between Yoga vs Pilates can be done by evaluating key criteria. When deciding, consider the following…
- Yoga incorporates the mind, body, and soul whereas Pilates is more focused on the mind and body.
- Yoga is best for injury prevention. Pilates is best for injury recovery.
- All you need for yoga is a mat. Pilates requires machines and other gear like balls and chairs.
- Yoga has stood the test of time dating back 5,000-10,000 years ago. Pilates is relatively new.
- Yoga has proven to help with many different chronic conditions and diseases. Pilates doesn’t have as much information available on it’s medical advantages.
Overall, if you are looking for a lifestyle change, I recommend yoga. If you are looking for a new and fun exercise, Pilates way be the way to go.
Fortunately, they have a lot of similarities, and you can try both for yourself to make a final decision. To start, check out the two YouTube videos below, and try each from home. Both are free 30-day challenges for beginners and a wonderful introduction to each. Afterward, try a class too.
30 Day Yoga Challenge:
30 Day Pilate Challenge:
Beginning anything new can create a level of uncertainty. Many questions may arise and I hope I’ve answered most though this guide. Even so, below are a hand full of frequently asked questions and their answers to help guide you further in your decision.
[su_spoiler title=”Q: Do I need to have fitness experience to start Yoga or Pilates?” open=”yes”]
A: There’s no experience required. Both Yoga and Pilates have beginner classes available in studios or online. Find the most comfortable environment and start there. Remember, I added links for two 30-day beginner challenges above. This way, you can get started today.
[su_spoiler title=”Q: Which one is best for weight loss?“]
A: Since Yoga has many different styles–some focus on cardio–we can conclude neither one is better than the other. So, choose the practice you resonate with most. This way, it’s something you can do for a long time, not just a one-and-done trip to the gym.
Focus on leading a healthy lifestyle with Yoga or Pilates as an add-on, not just a way to lose weight. It’s never one big change that leads a healthy life, but the small actions you take and make a habit.
[su_spoiler title=”Q: What do I wear?“]
A: Whether you are taking a Yoga or Pilates class, make sure you wear comfortable activewear. You will also notice some companies make clothes dedicated to yoga. For example, yoga pants. Yoga clothing would also be suitable for Pilates. Please note, shoes and socks are not required.
[su_spoiler title=”Q: How often should I do Yoga or Pilates?“]
A: Consistency is key. Remember, it’s about gradual progress. Start with 2-3 times per week and build from there. Listen to your body and take it slow. You may stay at 2-3 times per week, or decide to increase over time. But whatever you do, stay consistent.
[su_spoiler title=”Q: What type of gear do I need?“]
A: In Yoga, all you need is a mat and your body. Although a few add-ons may help. For Yoga, I highly recommend picking up a pair of blocks and straps. They help significantly with easing into poses that your body may not be ready for.
In Pilates, there’s a lot more gear required. There are Pilate machines, chairs, tables, rings, balls, mats, and bolsters. You may want to find a beginner Pilate package and go from there.
Now that you have finished reading this guide, I hope you’ve decided whether Yoga or Pilates is best for you. Also, I hope you’ve discovered that you don’t have to choose. You try and practice both to add some variety to your workouts.
Here’s my final take: if you are looking for more than an exercise, but a lifestyle, one that you can practice for all the days of your life, then my recommendation is Yoga. I’ve had a positive experience with Yoga myself self and being that its 10,000 years old; we can conclude that it has stood the test of time.
Yoga is a journey. Remember this: the poses are about sensation, not destination. So get started today and enjoy the process along the way.
“Falling out of balance doesn’t matter, really and truly. How we deal with that moment and how we find our way back to center, every day, again and again – that is the practice of yoga…it’s about trusting you will find your way.” ~ Cyndi Lee