The Differences Between Pilates and Yoga

Because yoga and Pilates are both done on a mat and both help with strength, breath regulation, and flexibility, it is common for people to assume that these sports are one and the same.

The Differences Between Pilates and Yoga

However, there are many key differences between Pilates and yoga.

If you're looking for a new way to move your body and build strength, you should consider these differences before making your decision. 

Without further ado, let's compare the purposes and different types of Pilates and yoga.

We'll be summarizing their differences in this article and explaining how to choose the best form of exercise for you!

What is Yoga? 

Yoga has been practiced for centuries as an art of living. It is a practice that focuses on bringing awareness to the mind, body, and spirit.

As for its beginnings, yoga originated in India over 5,000 years ago. 

Additionally, yoga is a form of exercise. It can help improve your physical health by improving your posture, increasing muscle tone, and helping you to focus on your breathing.

Yoga also has many benefits for emotional and spiritual health, such as helping to relieve stress and encouraging you to get in touch with your emotions. 

Sometimes, yoga directly involves the practice of meditation, which further foregrounds the spiritual nature of yoga.

While some people who practice yoga are more interested in the purely physical benefits, others use yoga as a way to connect the body, mind, and soul. 

Different Forms of Yoga 

In addition to the different approaches people take to practicing yoga, there are many types of yoga to try, including: 

Vinyasa Yoga 

This type of yoga is often referred to as "flow" or "vinyasa." In vinyasa yoga, the practitioner moves through postures (or poses) and then transitions into another pose without stopping. This type of yoga is fast-paced and intense. 

Bikram Yoga 

Also known as "hot yoga," Bikram yoga was created by Bikram Choudhury. The environment is heated to 100 degrees Fahrenheit and the humidity is increased to 40%.

Choudhury developed his own style of yoga after studying traditional Indian practices and adapting them to fit the Western culture.  

Kundalini Yoga

Kundalini yoga involves meditative chanting at the same time as moving through various yoga poses. This is an intensely spiritual kind of yoga that is beneficial for both the body and the mind. 

Hatha Yoga 

Hatha yoga is a slow-paced type of yoga that moves through poses slowly and gently. This is the kind of yoga we would recommend for beginners. 

Ashtanga Yoga 

Ashtanga yoga only focuses on 6 different poses, but these poses are selected to improve both strength and circulation. 

Hot Yoga 

Hot yoga is like Bikram yoga in the sense that the room is heated up, and the humidity is increased.

However, hot yoga uses a different set of poses to the specific poses used in Bikram yoga, even though the terms are often used interchangeably. 

Yin Yoga 

If you are hoping to use yoga to relieve joint pain and stiffness, you should try Yin yoga! This yoga practice involves poses that focus on strengthening connective tissues in the body.

Restorative Yoga 

Restorative yoga is a very gentle form of yoga based on slow movements. It involves the use of blankets and props for additional support. 

What is Pilates?

What is Pilates

Pilates is a system of exercises designed to strengthen muscles while stretching and lengthening tendons and ligaments. It is based on principles of control, precision, and concentration. 

It was first introduced by Joseph H. Pilates in Germany during the 1920s.

He called it “Contrology” because he believed that if one could learn how to control their bodies, they could achieve greater levels of fitness and wellness. 

The main focus of Pilates is to relax stiff muscles while building strength in those same muscle groups through a series of movements and exercises.

Practicing Pilates will also help you to build muscle tone, improve your posture, have more energy, feel less stressed, and remove toxins from your body.

Like yoga, Pilates focuses on the link between physical and mental health and improves both by bringing the body into alignment through specific movements.

However, there is less of a spiritual focus in Pilates and while some forms of yoga can definitely be intense, it is generally agreed that Pilates is the more demanding form of exercise. 

Yoga vs Pilates 

Here are the main differences between yoga and Pilates. By considering these differences, you should be able to determine which exercise best suits your fitness and mental health needs. 

1. Pilates is considered to be the better option for weight loss compared to yoga.

More intense forms of yoga such as hot yoga or vinyasa yoga will definitely help you to lose weight. Check out this article to find out how many calories hot yoga burns and how it will benefit you in your weight loss journey.

 Pilates, on the other hand, is generally more fast-paced and gets your heart rate going faster. This articles explains how many calories Pilates burns so check it out as well. 

2. If you're struggling with your mental health, you should try yoga before Pilates.

Pilates absolutely has mental health benefits due to the release of endorphins and relaxation of the muscles, but yoga has more of a focus on the mind and emotions. 

3. Pilates might be the safer option for back pain. It's possible to do yoga safely with back problems, but some poses can trigger discomfort in this area.

If your back hurts, and you want to do yoga, let your instructor know beforehand, so they can take this into account.

4. If your goal is to improve flexibility, yoga is the better choice.

Pilates will make you more flexible, but the movements aren't as focused on flexibility compared to muscle engagement and relaxation. Check out our guide here for the best yoga for flexibility.

5. Generally speaking, if you want to see results quicker, Pilates may suit you better than yoga.

The results obtained through yoga can be truly incredible, but due to the higher intensity of Pilates, you're likely to see development in your muscle tone sooner. 

Final Thoughts 

There are many similarities between Pilates and yoga. Both practices will improve your core strength and flexibility while improving your mental health and building muscle tone. 

With that being said, Pilates is more intense than most forms of yoga, so it may produce results more quickly.

There is also less of a mental focus with Pilates, so if you really want to work on yourself emotionally and spiritually, yoga is the better option.

Yoga is also the better choice for flexibility, although if you have problems with your back, Pilates is generally recommended over yoga. 

Remember that there are many different forms of yoga, however, so if one doesn't suit you, don't give up! Both Pilates and yoga can be very beneficial in different ways if you find the right class for your needs.

Kevin Harris