Yoga vs. Pilates: How to know which one’s best for you?



When it comes to fitness, regular exercise and physical activity is of utmost importance.

Not only does it help you maintain a healthy weight, but it also reduces your risk of chronic illnesses including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and more.

If you’re a beginner, low-intensity and low-impact exercises can help you kickstart your fitness journey.

These include yoga and/or Pilates. Both these workout routines have gained much momentum in recent times.

Many celebrities have also sworn by these exercise regimes, making it all the more popular.

However, if you want to know which one is better than the other, there are a few things you must understand.

What is yoga?

Yoga is an ancient practice that originated in India about 5000 years ago. There are several aspects to it including posture, breathing and meditation, which not only improves your physical health, but also boosts your mental well being. Having said that, there are different types of yoga including Hatha Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, Iyengar Yoga, Aerial Yoga and more.

What is Pilates?

As opposed to yoga, Pilates is a newer and a more modern practice that was introduced by Joseph Pilates in the 1920s. This was an exercise technique developed to bring injured World War I soldiers back on their toes.

Now, Pilates is a low impact exercise that helps tone muscles and boost endurance. It aims to strengthen muscles while improving postural alignment and flexibility. There are two types of Pilates: mat and reformer, which uses a special exercise machine with a sliding platform and cables.

How do yoga and Pilates compare?

Both yoga and Pilates are low impact exercises that help steer clear of injuries. Breath work is central to both these exercise regimes, but it may differ in various ways. In yoga, you must indulge in a full belly breathing method, wherein you inhale and exhale through your nose. As opposed to yoga breathing, Pilates demands a 3-dimensional breathing pattern during the practice i.e. inhale through the nose, directing the breath to the sides of the ribs, exhale through the mouth.

Furthermore, yoga has more variety than Pilates. As discussed, common yoga types include hatha, vinyasa, bikram, ashtanga, iyengar, etc..

In comparison, Pilates is more ‘fast-paced’ than yoga, since the latter focuses more on mindfulness.

Should you choose yoga or Pilates?

Yoga and Pilates both have several health benefits. Both these exercise forms promote strength, balance, flexibility and calorie-burn. But while yoga is more about mindfulness, Pilates is associated with muscle-building and core-strengthening.

Depending on your goal i.e. what you want from your exercise routine, you must make the decision.

If your end goal is to improve your performance, maximize your core strength, promote stability and to do away with joint and muscle issues, then Pilates can be extremely beneficial.

But if you want to feel relaxed, while working out, and want to tend to both your physical and mental health, then yoga is your go-to workout routine.

Which is better for weight loss?

You can lose weight with both yoga and Pilates. However, the amount of calories you burn while doing a type of yoga or Pilates may differ.

According to the American Council on Exercise, 50 minutes of hatha yoga and power yoga can burn 144 calories and 237 calories respectively. Similarly, 50 minutes of beginner Pilates and advanced Pilates can burn about 175 and 254 calories respectively.

It has also been noted that an hour of vinyasa yoga can burn 540 calories, which is extremely high.

However, at the end of the day, choose the exercise that you’re comfortable with and enjoy doing!

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