What’s The Difference Between Yoga and Pilates?

Although similar in some ways, Yoga and Pilates are very different in others. For example, one has been around for centuries, while the other was created about 90 years ago. However, both are an excellent way to get in shape, stay in shape, and stay healthy. Both are also very relaxing and satisfying too and deliver excellent results when done correctly.

In today’s article, we’ll take a closer look at both, including their similarities and main differences. That way, you can make an informed decision as to what’s best for your particular needs and goals. One thing is certain, however; whichever you choose, both Pilates and Yoga are a fantastic way to keep your body in peak physical condition and ward off health problems today and in the future. Enjoy!

The Basics of Yoga

It was about 5000 years ago in India (as far as records can tell) that Yoga was created. Its initial purpose was to connect human and universal consciousness through the use of physical activity. Today yoga is used to not only improve physical health but emotional and spiritual health as well. The repetitive movements used in yoga focus heavily on flexibility through the use of major muscle groups. 

Yoga also involves the use of both meditation and deep breathing, both of which significantly aid in relaxation and can be very therapeutic. For people who are looking to destress, the meditative part of yoga can be incredibly attractive. One of the biggest differences between Yoga and Pilates is that there are many different types of yoga. (Will take a look at those in just a bit.) All of them will help you keep your body toned and your mind on an even keel.

The Basics of Pilates

Created during the early part of the 20th century, Pilates is named after its creator, Joseph Pilates. It was initially used to help injured soldiers during World War I. The thought was that they would more quickly regain their strength through the stretching, strengthening, and stabilizing of the major muscle groups. 

One of the biggest differences between Pilates and yoga is that Pilates involves a lot fewer movements (poses). It focuses on using correct alignment, concentration, breathing, and exact movements. Mr. Pilates believed that physical and mental health were similar to Yin and Yang. In other words, they are essential to each other, with one helping to improve the other and vice-versa. It’s been said that Pilates was one of the first total body conditioning methods created. (Although some would strenuously argue that Yoga was the first.)

What are the Main Similarities Between Yoga and Pilates?

As we mentioned earlier, there are quite a few similarities between yoga and Pilates. Both are excellent for maintaining a toned body and a calm mind. Some of the other similarities include;

They Help You Stay Flexible (or Increase Your Flexibility) 

For many people today, flexibility is a huge problem. If you’re unsure if flexibility is a problem you have, try bending down to pick something up off the floor. If it’s a chore, painful, or causes you to moan and groan, your flexibility is not as good as it could be. The fact is, while many people focus on getting big muscles, flexibility is much more important to your overall health and well-being. Both yoga and Pilates are excellent in terms of not only increasing your flexibility but staying flexible as you get older. This quote from Joseph Pilates says it all; “If your spine is inflexibly stiff at 30, you are old. If it is completely flexible at 60, you are young.”

They Both Help Your Breathing

Both Pilates and yoga use a lot of breathing or ‘breath-work’ during your work out. The reason is that breathing the right way can detoxify your body, including your lymphatic system and your muscles. It also helps you manage your muscle pain much more effectively and can be a godsend for those with arthritis.

Both Can Be Performed Almost Anywhere

One of the best reasons to practice yoga or Pilates is simply that you can do them practically anywhere. All you need is a small amount of space. You can watch yoga and Pilates videos on YouTube to get the instructions you need or take a class at the local gym. Once you know the basics, you can practice either one anywhere and everywhere. (One caveat is that Pilates does require the use of some specialized equipment.)

They’re Both Low Impact

One of the biggest problems that some people (we’re looking at you, Grandma) have with exercise is that it puts a lot of pressure on their joints. Pilates and yoga are both low impact, however, which can be extremely helpful if you’re older, have arthritis, or suffer from other physical ailments. Both will significantly lower the potential risk of hurting yourself while exercising.

Both Can Reduce your Risk of Chronic Disease

Did you know that regular exercise can cut your risk of chronic disease by nearly 40%? It’s true, and both Pilates and yoga are excellent exercises that you can use to do just that.

They Protect Your Brain and Cognitive Abilities

Yes, as we get older, the chances of having a “brain fart” increase. What most people don’t realize, however, is that these lapses of memory are most often caused by stress, not old age. Yoga and Pilates are two of the best ways to reduce your stress levels, protect your brain and keep it sharp.

What are the Main Differences Between Yoga and Pilates?

While there are many similarities between both of these excellent exercise methods, there are several big differences between yoga and Pilates that you should know about before choosing between one of the other. They include;

The Equipment is Much Different

Want to get in a good yoga workout? All you need is a yoga mat. (Heck, even decent wall-to-wall carpeting will do in a pinch.) For Pilates, though, you’re going to need some different pieces of equipment. Those include a spine corrector, a reformer, a small barrel, a large ball, etc. Most of these are used for resistance and also to help you keep your body aligned while performing the exercises.

The Exercises, Moves, and Poses

If you practice classic Pilates, you’ll find that the movements and exercises are a lot shorter than those used in yoga. Also, you repeat them far less and hold them for a lot less time. Basically, they focus more on control and precision. If you’re doing yoga, you’ll hold many poses for quite a bit longer and often repeat them in a flowing movement.

One is More Spiritual Than The Other

One of the key differences between yoga and Pilates is that yoga focuses on spiritualism and meditation. It works your mind nearly as much as it works your body as you focus on things like reducing stress and breathing. On the other hand, Pilates is much more of a traditional exercise routine. (Keep in mind that it was originally developed to help injured soldiers.)

The End Results are Different

Although both will give you excellent results, those results can be slightly different depending on which form of exercise you use. For example, yoga tends to work your entire body and incorporate breathing and spirituality (as we mentioned). Pilates, on the other hand, mainly focuses on strengthening the “powerhouse” muscles such as those in the spine, hips, outer thighs, and lats. 

In short, if you’re looking for something physical to build strength, you would probably want to choose Pilates. If you want something more spiritual (yet still physically demanding), yoga is probably a better choice for you.

What Are the Different Types of Yoga?

As we mentioned earlier, there are several different types of yoga that you can choose from. All of them are great, although they deliver different results. Some of the most popular forms of yoga include:

  • Hatha Yoga – one of the most gentle forms of yoga and great for beginners
  • Ashtanga Yoga – 6 specific yoga poses make ashtanga yoga great for improving circulation and calming your mind.
  • Bikram Yoga / Hot Yoga – these yoga methods are practiced in a room heated to over 100° with 40% humidity, so make sure to stay hydrated.
  • Restorative Yoga – slow-paced and using several different props like bolsters and blankets, restorative yoga is excellent for people who want to achieve deep relaxation.
  • Kundalini Yoga – one of the most physically and mentally challenging forms of yoga, kundalini yoga is intense.

What Are the Best Benefits of Yoga and Pilates?

No matter which you choose, both Pilates and yoga deliver excellent benefits. Below are some of the best that you will receive from either one:

  • Improved posture, coordination, and balance.
  • Major stress relief.
  • Elimination of toxins throughout your body.
  • Significantly increased energy, stamina, and strength.
  • An improved inner strength that will help you handle stress much better.

In Closing

If you’re trying to choose between yoga and Pilates, our suggestion is to take a few classes of each to see which one you like best. That way, your choice will be based on experience rather than opinions (including ours). Both of these excellent exercise regimens will deliver results in spades, improve your health, reduce your risk of chronic disease, and keep you calm, stable, and feeling fine.

Did you enjoy today’s article? We sure hope so and also hope that it helped you to make a decision. If you have any questions or would like to leave a comment, please do so in the space provided below. Also, if you have any interesting or amusing anecdotes about Pilates or yoga, please share them with us! Thanks!

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