Yoga vs Pilates – Which Should You Choose?

Yoga and pilates are two of the most popular exercises programs nowadays that have earned their own followers all over the world. Which one should you choose? Read on to find out.

Yoga and pilates are great options especially if you are looking for a workout that would tone and sculpt your body without heavy lifting. With the popularity of the two, however, how can you choose between them?

Although they both strengthen the core muscles and leave you lean and strong, these practices are indeed different from each other – all the more for yoga since there are different types of yoga practices as well!


Yoga is a very ancient practice, having originated in India more than five thousand years ago. There are several branches of yoga, such as Ashtanga, Bikram, Vinyasa and others.

Some types of yoga focus more on meditation, enlightenment and overall wellbeing, while other types focus on exercise and strength. Pilates, on the other hand, was introduced in the mid-20th century as a form of exercise to rehabilitate and strengthen the muscles of the body.

It is important to note, however, that yoga incorporates an important part of ourselves that cannot be found physically – the spirit.

Yoga focuses on helping the spirit grow along with the body through meditation, strengthening the connection of the body and the spirit with the medium of the mind.

What to expect in classes

What to Expect in Classes
Yoga classes depend on the instructor

Yoga classes ultimately depend on the instructor when it comes to classes. There are many poses (asanas) and breathing exercises (pranayamas) which can be combined to create tens of thousands of routines which instructors can come up with.

Then again, there are some yoga styles like Bikram and Ashtanga, which follow a strict set of poses.

Pilates classes contain more structure, so if you are a creature of habit and routine, Pilates classes will put your mind to rest for you will know what will happen during that class day.

Physical benefits

Flexibility of the muscles of the entire body
Your body will become stronger and more flexible

Pilates exercise focuses on spine alignment and core strengthening, which will aid your body to become stronger and more flexible. This will not need intense workout machines, since Pilates is more of a low-impact exercise type that brings about strength through resistance training.

Yoga classes focus more on the strengthening and flexibility of the muscles of the entire body – each posture is accompanied by a counter-posture, promoting balance in the body. 

What it does to the mind

Both yoga and Pilates help clear the mind from stressors, therefore lowering the stress levels experienced by the person. Because of this, it is much easier to sleep and improve the mood drastically, as well as keep the symptoms of fatigue at bay. Yoga and Pilates both encourage mental focus and the controlled breathing.

However, yoga brings a little extra when it comes to mental benefits, and this is in the form of meditation. Many, but not all, yoga classes make use of meditation or chanting to help you achieve focus and awareness.

Calories and weight loss

Fifty minutes of hatha yoga will burn around 145 calories
Fifty minutes of hatha yoga will burn around 145 calories

Between the two exercises, most types of yoga provide more cardio benefit, giving your heart a workout similar to that of an aerobic stroll.

Beginner Pilates classes, however, offer milder aerobic challenge, similar to that of a slow walk, but advanced classes can raise your heart rate as if you were doing speed walking.

Fifty minutes of hatha yoga will burn around 145 calories, while advanced yoga classes will burn around 250 calories. Fifty minutes of beginner Pilates will burn around 175 calories, while an advanced class can burn as much as 255 to 350 calories.

What is the best choice?

So, what exactly is the best choice between the two? Well, yoga is a good option if you are looking to improve your spirituality and calm the mind. However, if your focus is more on your posture and your muscles, then Pilates may prove to be a better fit.

If you are having difficulties in choosing between the two, you try both of them. Many studios allow you to take individual classes before committing to the program.

That way, you can try them both first before finally deciding on the best choice for you!

About the author

Justine R

On an eternal quest for happiness, Justine tries to lead a positive lifestyle by giving back to the universe and following natural approaches to parenting, health, food and beauty. When she's not on the beach, she keeps herself fit (and sane) by running and doing yoga.

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