Which is better: Yoga or Pilates?

It’s amazing how many people wonder the same thing.

Both workouts utilize similar methodology, and grew popular in Western culture around the same time (the early 2000s).

However, you’ll find that there are some important differences between the two that make them better-suited to specific results.

Below, we’re going to take a look at both types of workouts, comparing the pros and cons of each, to answer the question “Which is better: Yoga or Pilates?” once and for all.

Which is Better: Yoga or Pilates? A Closer Look at Pilates

Pilates was created in the 1920s by a German physical trainer named Joseph Pilates. He developed it—calling it “Contrology” at the time—as a means of rehabilitating bedridden WWI soldiers, enabling them to get back on their feet and moving around following severe wartime injuries.

Most Pilates workouts is one of the two main forms:

  • Mat – This involves body-weight resistance on a mat, utilizing little or no equipment.

  • Reformer – This involves a machine that utilizes spring resistance.

Both are low-impact workouts that focus on strengthening the whole body, with special emphasis placed on the core. The multi-joint exercises all work multiple muscles and the core, leading to better overall fitness.

The benefits of Pilates are pretty clear:

Stronger core. This is the “core” philosophy of Pilates: a stronger core leads to a stronger body. Virtually every movement engages the abdominal muscles, as well as the lower back and obliques. The result is not only greater core strength, but improved awareness and movement of the core muscles.

Injury rehab. As Pilates was initially created to encourage rehabilitation from serious injuries, it’s no surprise that it’s still used today for physical therapy. PT Pilates classes are typically slower and use exercises modified specifically for the injury being treated. However, the whole-body movements can lead to better strength and faster recovery times.

Increased mobility. The active and passive stretching techniques incorporated into Pilates workouts help to not only improve flexibility, but also increase overall joint mobility. It’s all low-impact stretches, but it’s a truly effective means of combating the inevitable stiffness that sets in after hours spent sitting down.

Improved posture. The strengthening of core muscles leads to better overall posture and greater ease of movement.

According to some scientific studies, Pilates can help to treat conditions like back pain, joint injuries and insufficiencies, urinary incontinence, arthritis, and respiratory conditions.

Which is Better: Yoga or Pilates? A Closer Look at Yoga

Yoga, the ancient practice from India, has become highly popular in the West, thanks to its many variations and training methodologies. At its core, Yoga focuses on two things: deep breathing and natural movement. All of the Yoga positions and poses are intended to not only enhance the Yogi’s fitness, but also connect them better to their breath and body.

There are 11 different types of Yoga, with some more focused on the physical aspects and a faster pace (such as Vinyasa, Ashtanga, or Power Yoga) and others aimed more at meditative techniques, relaxation, and deep breathing (such as Iyengar and Kundalini Yoga).

Whatever type of Yoga you practice, you’ll find the workouts offer a range of pretty amazing benefits:

Greater joint mobility. Most Yoga sequences incorporate some form of active or passive stretching that will limber up your muscles and increase your natural range of motion. It’s as effective as Pilates for preventing the joint stiffness and muscular insufficiencies that result from spending so much time in a chair every day.

Better balance. Yoga specifically incorporates poses targeting your balance and stability. Simply holding some poses—such as Royal Dancer or Warrior Three—can lead to drastic improvements in your balance and greater awareness of the lower body and core muscles that keep you upright and moving forward.

Enhanced sleep. Yoga has been proven to drastically improve sleep quality—by as much as 55%! This is both due to the physical exertion of the Yoga workout and the increased mental relaxation caused by the meditative techniques and deep breathing exercises incorporated into the workouts.

Improved mental health. Studies have shown that Yoga practice can not only strengthen the body, but also the mind. Not only can it prevent depression and reduce anxiety, but it will counteract stress and increase mental acuity following the Yoga session. It’s an amazing “break” from your fast-paced, busy life, restoring calm and helping to re-center you even in a sea of chaos and stress.

Yoga has also been proven to both reduce heart disease risk and asthma symptoms, making it an excellent workout to improve your physical health.

Which is Better: Yoga or Pilates? It’s All About the End-Goal!

At the end of the day, both Yoga and Pilates are excellent workouts that increase joint mobility, improve your core strength, and enhance your overall physical fitness. However, thanks to their slightly different focus, you’ll find that they each work better for specific goals.

If you want to increase your mobility and flexibility, clear your mind, and gain greater awareness of your body’s abilities, Yoga is definitely an excellent workout to consider.

If you’re focused on rehabilitation following an injury or increasing your core strength, Pilates is the better option.

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Try Get Yoga Lean for yourself, and it might just put to rest the argument of “Which is better: Yoga or Pilates?”