Yoga Vs. Pilates – What’s Your Choice? August 18, 2016

The world is going ga-ga about yoga, and rightfully so. But those who are into Pilates probably don’t care. Well, yoga and Pilates are, more often than not, thrown in the same category. And although they are similar practices, they have some glaring differences that people fail to recognize. So here goes – a head-on battle of stretching vs. strength!

Difference # 1 – The Origin Of The Practice


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Yoga is an ancient Indian practice that originated more than 5000 years ago. With a steady evolution through centuries and cultures, yoga has branched into Bikram, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Iyengar, etc. These follow the same principles, but have incorporated variations to suit different needs.

Pilates, on the other hand, is a much younger practice. It started off in the mid-20th century and was founded by Joseph Pilates. He created this form of exercise for rehabilitation and strengthening.

A little piece of Pilates trivia: It is the dancers who, in fact, made this practice famous around the world. They modified the practice to make them strong for their training.

Difference # 2 – The Distinction Of The Mind, Body, And Spirit


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While both yoga and Pilates believe that the body and mind are connected, yoga adds the element of the spirit to the practice too. When you practice yoga, you tend to explore spirituality through meditation.

Difference # 3 – What To Expect From The Class


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Whether it is a yoga class or a class of Pilates, each one is different. So, you cannot pinpoint minute details. However, this is a broad spectrum of what you can expect in a yoga class Vs. a Pilates class.

Yoga classes have a flexible routine. You can combine sequence variations and postures to make thousands of different combinations. It also depends on what style of yoga you pick, or which teacher you go to. The Ashtanga and Bikram style of yoga are two forms of yoga that do have a set sequence. With every other form, there are umpteen variations possible. Also, some yoga classes involve meditation as a part of the routine. This inculcates focus and dedication at the beginning of the class and allows you to soak in and reap the benefits of the exercises after the class.

The Pilates classes, however, are more structured. So you will know what to expect when you walk into a class.

Difference # 4 – The Actual Workout


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Both the practices will help you gain strength and flexibility.

In a typical yoga class, each and every muscle in your body gets an equal workout. Each pose is followed by a counter posture to ensure a creation of balance in your body. Core strength is an essential part of yoga. But, it is only a piece of the puzzle, and not the entire focus.

A Pilates workout gives you a total body workout. It focuses mainly on aligning the spine and strengthening the core. The movements are regimented. Some classes use machines to help you gain strength. The others involve working out on the mat and use only the body’s resistance to build the core strength.

Difference # 5 – The Calories You Burn And The Weight You Lose


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A 50-minute Hatha Yoga class will allow you to burn up to 145 calories. If you opt for a Power Yoga session, you could lose up to 250 calories.

A normal 50-minute Pilates workout helps you burn around 175 calories. In an intense and advanced practice, you can burn up to 375 calories.

Difference # 6 – The Use Of Breathing


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Both yoga and Pilates use breathing and concentration techniques. Yoga, though, uses breathing at a more intense level.

When you practice Ashtanga or Vinyasa forms of yoga, you use the Ujjayi breathing, where you increase the duration of inhaling and exhaling as you go deeper into the practice. You are also required to match your breath to the movement and the postures. Yoga also includes Pranayama, which is a section dedicated to breathing.

In the Pilates practice, you breathe in through your nose, and breath out through your mouth.

So, Which One Should You Pick?

If your goal is to lose weight and strengthen your spine, then, of course, you might have already made up your mind to go for Pilates.

However, if you are looking for an all round practice that also helps you connect at a spiritual level, yoga is your pick.

If you are confused, you might want to try both, and see which one you enjoy better. In a few classes, you will also tend to notice which practice your body responds to better.

  • Yasmeen

    Thanks to the writer who made this good effort in listing out the differences between yoga and pilates. This will definitely help a naive person like me in choosing the best workout. I really liked the way you presented the post.