Updated: Feb 20
Are you a fitness fan? Or maybe just looking into a new routine to add to your fitness journey? Did you injure your wrist while doing some other workouts and are looking into a safe exercise to do? You might have come across these two great exercises that have proven their benefits by experts and practitioners alike. The question is, given your specific needs and goals, between pilates or yoga, which one is right for you?
Pilates and Yoga – Low impact, more inclusive exercises
Yoga and Pilates achieved worldwide popularity because of rising levels of stress and the mainstream promotion of mental and physical fitness in social media. Both of these exercises are more inclusive to people regardless of mobility, age, gender, lifestyle, and level of fitness.
Whether you are experiencing a stiff neck or recovering from an injury, or basically just looking into adding a new exercise to your fitness routine, both yoga and pilates have found their niche in the fitness world.
Both are low-impact exercises that help the body gain flexibility, improve its functionality and stability. Pilates and yoga also help you achieve mindfulness, which results in a healthier mind and cognition. Both are also great for people who might be limited from doing strenuous activities. Old people, pregnant women, or those with some form of disability and injury will benefit greatly from both exercises. Evidently, both are also amazing for those who are starting their fitness journey who might find HIIT and Gym exercises intimidating and strenuous.
Pilates or Yoga: what is the difference?
With that said, yoga and pilates are different from one another in many ways. Prof Greg Whyte, a leading figure in Sports Science and a former Olympian, has a simple answer to the question about the difference between yoga and pilates. He said, “In general, yoga is much more about flexibility and stability, pilates is strength and stability”. There are still other key differences that set them apart. Ultimately, whatever you choose to practice depends on your needs and your goals.
So which one is right for you? Pilates or yoga? Let’s look into each of these exercises.
What is Pilates?
In the 1920s, Joseph Pilates, a German nurse-physiotherapist took bedsprings, headboards, and bedposts and fashioned them into exercise equipment for his injured patients. These contraptions are the prototypes to today’s trapeze table and the reformer which are two of the quintessential equipment you see in Pilates studios today. With the aid of this equipment, he designed exercises whose goals are to improve body function and give it more integrated movement.
Essentially, Pilates is a low-impact exercise that focuses on strengthening the core and improving balance, flexibility, and strength. Pilates utilises certain machines and the mat. These two modes of Pilates exercise are safe to use by all age groups, certain injuries, and levels of fitness. According to a study published in September 2021 in a Physiotherapy Journal, pilates has improved the strength, balance, functionality, and flexibility of older people who practice it.
Pilates also uses breathing techniques, much like yoga, that help with mind and body connection that, in turn, improve physical and mental endurance. Pilates requires concentration when doing repetitive movements for the target muscles.
What is a typical Pilates workout?
The typical Pilates workout lasts between 45 minutes to one hour either on a mat or a machine called a reformer complete with pulleys, bars, and springs that give resistance to whatever muscle you are training. There are five sets of exercises that are usually part of beginner classes: The hundred, the roll-up, leg circles, rolling like a ball, and series 5. These sets strengthen the hip and the abdominal and back muscles, open and stretch the spine – all of which help strengthen and stabilise the core. Practitioners of pilates claim to feel more burn and sore muscles after a session.
What is Yoga?
Unlike the fairly new Pilates, Yoga has been around for thousands of years from its origins in India. Right now, millions of people around the globe practise yoga. Like pilates, it also focuses on flexibility, strength building, but with more focus on deep breathing and mindfulness to achieve utmost mind and body connection leading to more holistic well-being.
The main features of yoga exercises are yoga postures and breathing. These are a series of movements or poses that a practitioner does according to the person’s breathing pattern. Therefore, great concentration on breathing while changing the postures is necessary to achieve the benefits of yoga. Practitioners say that Yoga is a form of meditation, a way of life, with the added benefit of physical well-being. Indeed, many claim that one of the main differences between yoga and pilates is the former’s affinity to spirituality.
What is a Typical Yoga Exercise?
Various yoga exercises are suitable for any fitness level and personal needs and goals. Expert yoga practitioners can do handstands, headstands, and other complicated poses requiring strength, balance, and flexibility. However, beginners can most definitely benefit from simple breathing exercises to fine-tune their breathing techniques and then move on to the stretches and simple poses.
Typical yoga poses that beginners will learn are mountain pose, downward-facing dog, pigeon’s pose, cat-cow, forward fold, and plank pose. These are all designed to release tension, increase flexibility, and improve balance, strength, and stability. The learner will know how to transition to the next pose according to his breathing or to hold the pose and concentrate on being still.
Which is better? Yoga or Pilates? Here are the things to consider
Pilates and Yoga are two great exercises that are low impact and develop the mind. There are already many variations and modifications for every need. Both exercises are great for flexibility, strength, stability, and overall well-being. They incorporate movements and breathing techniques in their exercises.
But which is better – yoga or pilates? Here are the things to consider:
Injury and mobility
Although there are already variations of yoga for certain fitness levels, many yoga poses require flexibility and strength. If you have certain injuries on your wrist and spine for example, it might not be for you. Pilates, on the other hand, use subtle, small, repetitive movements that can improve strength even to those with injury. Some experts claim that old people or those with limited mobility can even try pilates to improve their flexibility and strength. After all, pilates is originally designed for healing and rehabilitation.
Practitioners can do Yoga everywhere as long as they have a flat surface. Most of the yoga postures require mats and for beginners, you might need blocks. Otherwise, those are really what you need. In pilates, however, equipment is needed for a more impactful and safer practise especially for those with injury. The equipment can be adjusted to different resistance and position to fit the practitioner. Of course, pilates can be done on a mat and can be modified to suit almost all fitness levels.
Yoga or Pilates for Weight loss
Weight loss occurs when there are more calories burned than taken in. Both exercises are low impact and use less cardio than the traditional workouts for weightloss such as HIIT. Certain 60-minute yoga or pilates exercises can burn 300-400 calories. However, this is still not significant to affect dramatic weight loss. Marry Yoga or Pilates for weight loss with mindful eating and high-intensity exercises to achieve your goal weight.
Pilates or Yoga for sports
People doing sports like tennis and football require good core strength and stability when they are suddenly thrown off. In this case, they would benefit greatly by practising Pilates. On the other hand, Yoga improves range of motion, coordination, and mobility. They also target muscles that are usually neglected in other exercises that are needed in certain kinds of sports. Yoga, therefore, will benefit people who do sports like swimming, running, and cycling.
Pilates or Yoga for pregnancy
Pilate or Yoga for pregnancy offer different benefits. Prenatal Yoga is great during pregnancy. It targets many muscle groups that help relieve various issues like cramps, fatigue, aches, and vitality. The spiritual and meditative component of yoga helps with coping with the stress that comes with pregnancy.
Pregnancy Pilates gives more focus on strengthening the core, the abdomen, and the pelvic areas. These muscle groups are needed to improve coordination, balance, and strength. The muscles that are strengthened during Pilates are used during childbirth.
Better Mind and Body Connection and Destressing
To many experts, yoga is a way of life, not just a group of exercises. It encourages meditation, being ethical and spiritual, and clean and healthy living. Understanding the philosophy behind yoga is core to achieving overall health, in addition to the poses and breathing techniques. Practitioners report less stress, more focus at work, and general improvement of mental health according to published studies.
Overall, both Yoga and Pilates offer benefits that can improve overall mental and physical health. Both are low impact with variations that will suit your needs. Take a look at your specific needs and goals. Also find out which one you find enjoyable that will make you stick to a routine. You can also enroll in a class to see if it is right for you. Better yet, consult your doctor for proper guidance on which one is right for you, whether it is Pilates or Yoga.