Yoga vs. Pilates // by Lindsey Crane

Are you looking at your schedule and trying to decide weather to book a Yoga or a Pilates class during your busy week? Have you ever wondered how Yoga and Pilates compare? How are they similar? How are they different? If you’re like me; I assumed that Pilates was just like Yoga and that because I didn’t really connect with Yoga, I wouldn’t like Pilates either. I happily admit that I couldn’t have been more wrong!

Yoga and Pilates are both low-impact workouts that focus on using bodyweight resistance. Both Pilates and Yoga workouts can increase overall health, leading to a better quality of life and the benefits from consistently practicing either Yoga or Pilates are vast.

It’s good to know where each practice started. Yoga started over 5,000 years ago in India and was created as a part of a larger philosophy and a way of life. Yoga was created to promote a better understanding of oneself, and the connection between mind, body, and spirit.

Pilates started in the early 20th century as a rehabilitation practice for World War I soldiers and really took off as professional dancers started using Pilates to increase their dancing performances.

Yoga and Pilates are alike because they both include movements and postures intended to increase your mind-body connection, strength and flexibility. Yoga is a practice focused on your mind and how you feel and the strength and flexibility is a side effect of a well-balanced yoga practice. Pilates is a practice focused on toning the body and improving your postural alignment, balancing muscles and improving your functionality of movement through core body strength.

When deciding which practice is for you, ask yourself how important increasing strength is to you. Unlike yoga, reformer Pilates includes the use of resistance with weight bearing springs that make it more similar to weight training than yoga is. Yoga and Pilates both use poses for toning the abdominal muscles. However, Pilates exercises are more intense and results may be achieved much quicker than they might be if practicing yoga. Through frequent Pilates exercises, a flatter and firmer stomach can be achieved.

Yoga: Hatha yoga provides little cardio benefit; power yoga does a little bit better, giving the heart the same aerobic workout as a quick paced walk.

Pilates: You will feel the burn with moves like “the hundred,” and “planks”.  A beginner routine offers only a mild aerobic workout, to be compared to a slow stroll. An advanced class is better, picking the heart rate up and burning more calories. A Circuit class with the jump board is by far the most intense of the cardio workouts offered at RTR Pilates known to burn anywhere from 300-450 calories in 55 minutes!

Both yoga and pilates are wonderful for toning and strengthening through a full body workout, but when it comes to Pilates vs Yoga weight loss advantages, there is not a massive difference in how much weight you will lose. If you are trying to lose weight, you could try Pilates classes using different Pilates machines which add the cardio and fitness element to your Pilates poses and will help you to burn additional calories. 

In conclusion, the easiest way do decide between Pilates and Yoga is to go out and try both! Try classes of each, making sure to try a couple different yoga practices and mat pilates, chair pilates and reformer pilates! Only you will know which practice suits your needs and abilities. At the end of the day both Pilates and Yoga are very effective ways to strengthen your muscles, get in better shape, relieve stress and gain more flexibility!