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It’s time to settle the great pilates vs yoga debate. If you’re considering adding either of these to your fitness routine, you’ll want to learn the primary differences between yoga and pilates. While they can seem similar at first glance, each exercise program impacts your physical health differently and can offer varied potential health benefits.

Read on to get the lowdown on each discipline, and what to expect from a yoga practice or pilates classes.

Know Your Fitness Goals: How to Choose Between Yoga or Pilates

Choosing between yoga or pilates comes down to personal preference. Some people enjoy the gentle flow of a good yoga session, while others may crave the physical challenge of pilates more. If you’re still on the fence, considering your current fitness level and matching yoga and pilates benefits to your fitness goals may help steer you in the right direction.

Luckily, both yoga and pilates are considered low-impact workouts that require little more than a mat and your body weight. Both are effective in supporting flexibility and muscle strength. They also allow deeper body awareness, aside from other positive potential mental benefits.1

Regardless of which workout routine you choose, you should enjoy it enough to be consistent — that’s the best way to see results, whether you’re hoping to reduce your stress levels or your waistline.

Keep reading for a simple guide to the key points of each, and what you can hope to gain with a consistent practice.

yoga v pilates | ActivatedYouWhat Is Yoga?

Yoga has been practiced for centuries. An emphasis on spiritual health and mind-body connection remains one of yoga’s central themes. The spiritual connection is deepened through breathing techniques and physical postures, but the actual yoga poses and pace may vary across different forms of yoga.2

Most yoga classes will have you focusing on deep breathing and the mastery of postures that activate both minor and major muscle groups. There is also a meditative portion designed to help support mental clarity.3

Potential Yoga Benefits For Mind And Body

Yoga may contribute towards an improvement in flexibility, posture, and muscle tone. This may help support heart health and energy levels. For some, yoga can also be an effective exercise for joint discomfort — but you should always consult with a health professional and yoga instructor if you have any injuries or mobility problems before starting yoga.4

Yoga may also help support:

  • A positive mood
  • Better breathing practices
  • Healthy bones and joints
  • Good sleep
  • Heart health
  • Stress reduction5,6

What Is Pilates?

pilates | ActivatedYouPilates is a newer discipline, having been conceived after World War I as a method to help rehabilitate injured soldiers and allow them to regain optimal physical movement. Eventually, the pilates method attracted the attention of the dance community, which relied on it as a supplementary exercise. It’s now a popular fitness routine for those hoping to achieve strong but lean muscles.7

Pilates puts a focus on breathing or breath control, proper body alignment, and slow, repetitive movement to help sculpt muscles. It’s a popular core training routine because it places emphasis on core muscles and building core strength.8

Pilates Benefits For Physical And Mental Wellness

Similar to yoga, pilates may help support proper posture, thanks to its emphasis on stabilizing your core and back muscles. Over time, you may also notice an increase in flexibility and muscular strength, since pilates uses targeted, concentrated movements to stimulate your muscles and enhance your overall ease of movement.9

Due to the intense focus and centering required to execute pilates movements, there’s a definite mind-body awareness element to this workout. When done correctly, pilates may also help to support:

  • Cardiovascular health
  • Strong abdominal muscles
  • Healthy joints and spine
  • Healthy circulation
  • Lung capacity10

Bonus Points: Pilates Is An Awesome Whole-Body Workout

While it is a core-centric workout routine, pilates calls all your major (and minor) muscles into play. Your back, shoulders, and even hips may benefit from consistent pilates exercise. If you’re looking for an efficient whole-body exercise that doesn’t require lifting heavy weights or a lot of specialized equipment, pilates just might be for you.11

pilates | ActivatedYou

Yoga V Pilates: The Biggest Differences Between Yoga And Pilates

While it’s clear that yoga and pilates have some commonalities, they are still separate fitness disciplines with their own methodologies. One key difference: Yoga focuses on flowing from one established posture or pose, while pilates is all about challenging your muscles through maintaining or repeating unstable positions using your body weight or gravity.12

Additionally, if you’re all about the spiritual pursuit, the meditative aspect of achieving a yoga flow might be for you. Meanwhile, if you’re eager to build strength and make everyday movements more efficient, pilates is a must-try.

Yoga v Pilates: Which One Is Better For Weight Loss?

yoga | ActivatedYouIf you’re looking from the standpoint of cardio workouts, which of the two will be more effective? It could depend on the type of yoga you choose to practice. Some styles of yoga, like hot yoga or vinyasa yoga, elevate your heart rate more (thus upping the cardio component). Lower-impact restorative yoga and pilates classes don’t burn as many calories per hour, but they may still have positive effects for weight loss if done consistently.13

Regardless of your choice, your consistency will determine the health benefits you experience — and that includes weight loss. Like other traditional exercises or workouts, sticking to a routine or schedule may help you see and feel the effects sooner.

Talk To Your Doctor First

As with any new workout routine, it’s best to get the go-ahead from your doctor before signing up for any classes. As eager as you may be to get started, you may have pre-existing medical conditions that require additional guidance or individual attention from your yoga teacher or pilates instructor. Safety first, always.

Learn More:
What Is Aerial Yoga And What Are The Potential Benefits?
How To Choose A Yoga Mat: Find The Right One For Your Unique Needs
How To Breathe During Yoga: Proper Breathing For Different Yoga Poses

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