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what is the difference between yoga and pilates

Pilates vs Yoga: Differences and Which is Better?

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When comparing Pilates vs yoga, there are many similarities between the physical and psychological benefits, but is there one that offers more benefits? 

It almost goes without saying that practising regular Pilates or yoga can have a significant impact on our overall fitness, with both forms of exercise improving a number of factors, such as mindful breathing, strength and balance. 

However, choosing between the two typically comes down to your fitness goals and how you like to exercise.

So, in this article, we’ve covered what the benefits of yoga and Pilates are to help you make the best choice! 

We will cover: 

Before we jump in, if you’re considering a career in fitness, you can browse our range of personal training courses here, or download our prospectus to see all of the courses available here at OriGym.

Don’t forget! You can download your free 45 minute Yoga sequence workout below.

To determine the difference between Pilates and yoga, let’s start by looking at the basics and origins of these two popular exercises.

What is Yoga?

what is the difference between yoga and pilates

Yoga is a spiritual mind and body practice that focuses on strength, flexibility and breathing to support your physical and mental wellbeing. A typical yoga class will consist of poses or postures that utilise your body weight as resistance. 

Each pose is designed for a different purpose, such as: improving balance, stretching specific muscles, or building strength. They are connected by flowing sequences and breathing exercises and generally end with a period of relaxation or meditation. 

Yoga movements are fluid, repetitive, and focus on the flow in and out of each position. This makes yoga a great choice when comparing Pilates vs yoga for flexibility advancements. As well as this, your breath is also an important tool to aid flexibility, to stay present, and practise mindfulness. 

If you’re a long-term yogi or looking to delve deeper into the practice with a more intense and focused experience, find our list of the best yoga holidays & escapes.

Brief History of Yoga and its Types

difference between pilates and yoga

Yoga is a group of practices or disciplines that began in ancient India over 5,000 years ago; its roots are in Eastern religions including Shamanism, Buddhism and Hinduism. They practise meditation and spirituality for healing purposes, and also for wellbeing and compassion.

Yoga practice was introduced to the West in the mid-19th century and grew to become the successful, wealthy business known today; now, you can train to teach yoga and even go on yoga retreats. Further, there is access to classes online for free, which you can do while wearing activewear specifically designed for yoga.

Standard yoga classes only require a mat, but can incorporate minor equipment such as blocks, bolsters and straps. However, for those practicing in the comfort of their own home - these can be substituted with basic household objects like books, towels and pillows.

You may be wondering, is Pilates harder than yoga? Well, due to the many different types of yoga, for every relaxation class, there’s one that will raise your heart beat, make you sweat and challenge your strength! 

You can find a class to suit your needs almost anywhere, for some help we covered 24 types of yoga styles here! 

Each type of yoga has a shared aim: to focus the mind on breath and movement, calm and quiet busy thoughts, while also building strength and flexibility. 

What is Pilates?

which is better yoga or pilates

Pilates is a system of low-impact exercises that aim to strengthen the muscles with the objective of improving posture, mobility, flexibility and overall strength; while deep breathing is used to promote circulation, and to aid movements. 

In regards to yoga vs Pilates for toning, Pilates has a particular emphasis on the core as the body’s centre. A strong core means better stability throughout the entire body, so practising Pilates regularly can help you move with ease and efficiency. 

Pilates exercises utilise small, precise movements that target the ‘powerhouse’ muscles such as the glutes, hips, pelvic floor and lower back. Overall, the focus for a Pilates class is to improve the body’s form and alignment to build strong, lean muscles.

Brief History of Pilates and its Types

difference between yoga and pilates

Pilates was created by Joseph Pilates, a German physical trainer in the early 20th century. He first called Pilates ‘contrology’ and it was intended to strengthen the human body and mind. Interestingly, he used his method to rehabilitate seriously injured veterans during World War I. 

Joseph also invented the beginnings of the reformer, Cadillac and Pilates chair equipment. These are mechanisms that use components like springs, levers, handles and straps to provide either added resistance, or to support injured or bed-bound patients. 

For more information on this, you can read our complete guide to the history of Pilates and its equipment here. Moreover, for yoga vs Pilates for toning, the use of equipment in Pilates can add resistance for better toning results; so, if you’re seeking out a workout routine intertwined with mindfulness, this is the perfect choice. 

Classical and mat Pilates require just an exercise mat; they provide a body and mind workout using a sequence of fundamental and demanding Pilates movements. Similarly, contemporary Pilates is a variation of classical Pilates combined with other forms of exercise such as yoga, fitness training and physiotherapy. 

Reformer Pilates provides a more dynamic, full-body workout using Pilates equipment such as the reformer. It can look intimidating and strange with the medieval-looking mechanics, but it only takes one or two classes to become familiar with the environment!

Reformer Pilates offers more variety and is great for building and toning the muscles of the entire body, all the while increasing joint stability. However, it’s also great for rehabilitation if you are recovering from surgery or an injury. In fact, all types of Pilates can be adapted to suit the individual’s needs.

What are the Similarities Between Yoga and Pilates?

yoga and pilates

Before we get into helping you decide which would benefit you most between the two, let’s start with the key similarities. There are many Pilates and yoga benefits that make both exercises so popular.

They can both immensely improve areas such as:

  • Full-body strength
  • Posture
  • Flexibility
  • Overall fitness

These are some of the primary elements that make both practises highly popular, but also is what can often confuse people to decide which is better - yoga or Pilates. 

Below we have picked out some more of the most predominant similarities between yoga and Pilates.

#1 Adaptable and Convenient

One of the similarities and the benefits of yoga and Pilates is that they’re both low-impact and highly adaptable for any fitness level, ability or age. They can be performed at home, or at the gym and beginners are always welcomed - though some classes may have recommendations for the level that it is best catered towards. 

Trainers are challenged to work those often ignored muscle groups of every experience level, so you can rest assured that after a session, every area that you may miss, will have been hit.

If you’re interested to find out about yoga in more depth, you can read about yoga symbols and their meanings here.

#2 A Chance to Slow Down

With the stresses of modern life and the desire to switch off, the slower pace and precision of the exercises have made them both very popular practices. One of the main benefits of yoga and Pilates similarly is teaching a strong connection between mind and body; all in order to build positive mental and physical health.

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#3 Promotes Breathing Techniques

A key similarity of both exercises is the focus on breathing. Although for different intentions, yoga and Pilates teach the importance of breathing correctly when exercising. 

This can also improve your performance in other sports and activities too, as the breath becomes a tool to aid movement and even everyday activities.

You’ll definitely need your breathing work for laughter yoga! Find the definition, benefits & exercises here.

#4 Improves Fitness Performance 

Working different muscle groups, improving flexibility and joint mobility will inevitably improve your performance in other sports, exercises, and even make daily tasks easier! Both practices aid in weight loss and increase strength; however, this will depend on the type of class and your performance. 

What is the Difference Between Yoga and Pilates?

yoga v pilates

Though it's clear that both Pilates and yoga benefit the mind, body and breathing techniques, which one is better for you? When we compare yoga and Pilates, there are some key differences that set the two apart that you may want to consider.

#1 Spiritual Pursuits

The key differences between yoga and Pilates comes down to how and why they were created. Yoga has more meditative and spiritual intentions, rooted in sacred traditions that unite the mind and body. This contrasts to Pilates, which is more of a practical, strength-based workout for rehabilitation and better posture. 

To get in touch with your spirit, you may want to browse the best yoga retreats in the UK here.

#2 Use of Equipment

Yoga utilises exercise mats and minimal equipment to aid poses; however, Pilates is either mat-based or based around machinery for a more dynamic workout. The key difference between yoga and Pilates mat, is that yoga mats are thinner for stability, whilst Pilates mats are thicker for comfort.

pilates

#3 Timing and Poses

For Pilates versus yoga movements; yoga poses are held for longer while encouraging you to go deeper into each pose, following this is the repetition of the same movements in a flow. Whereas you do not hold poses in Pilates, quite differently the movements are shorter with fewer repetitions. 

If you’re a beginner to either, find the best yoga kits for beginners: Buyer's Guide here.

#4 Breathing Intentions

Focusing on the breath is one of the key benefits of yoga and Pilates. Although, whilst yoga uses spiritual breathing exercises to focus the mind and aid movement, Pilates uses the breath to contract the core muscles. This encourages good form and stability throughout your workout. 

What are the Benefits of Yoga vs Pilates

Yoga is often underestimated as an easy exercise, with the idea of pausing or slowing down being the opposite of what makes a good workout. Although, many yoga newcomers are surprised by the challenge! So, below are the key benefits that make yoga stand out.

#1 Promotes Flexibility 

pilates vs yoga for weight loss

When comparing Pilates vs yoga for flexibility, the slower pace, poses and timing makes it a clear winner. 

The main beneficial difference between Pilates and yoga is that yoga postures are held for longer and often paired with deep breathing exercises. This gives your body time to slowly ease in and get a deeper stretch. Holding poses for longer will also stretch and move the fascia, which is the deeper connective tissue around the muscles and joints.

Choosing any type of yoga will help with flexibility, but practices such as yin yoga particularly targets connective tissues in the hips, pelvis and lower spine. Yoga classes in heated studios also aid flexibility as warm muscles are more flexible - to find out more about yin yoga more specifically, read our article; yin yoga: everything you need to know.

If you lack in the flexibility department and find yoga poses intimidating, don’t let it put you off! The aim of yoga is to increase flexibility - you don’t need to be flexible prior in order to practise. However, if you are choosing yoga or Pilates for back pain, over-stretching can lead to more problems, so be aware of this if it applies to you.

When we compare yoga and Pilates, there are many modifications for different yoga poses which are specifically designed to help flexibility. Rest assured that with practice, your body will become accustomed to the levels of flexibility.

To get hold of all of the accessories for Pilates and yoga, read the articles below:

#2 Improves Cardiovascular Health 

pilates versus yoga

Cardiovascular health relates to the heart, blood and blood vessels and, according to the American Heart Association Journal, having good cardiovascular health increases a number of factors, including: exercise tolerance, reduces body weight, manages cholesterol levels and blood pressure.

When comparing yoga vs Pilates for cardiovascular health, yoga tips the scale as fast-paced classes can elevate the heart rate more than Pilates. Types such as hatha yoga provide cardio benefits, while power yoga can give the same aerobic workout as a brisk walk. 

However, although we know that heart-pumping exercises improve cardiovascular health, the calming, slower-paced yoga classes have many benefits for heart health due to their stress-busting effects. 

Stress and chronic stress can have detrimental effects on the cardiovascular system. It can increase heart rate, blood pressure and narrow arteries, making it difficult for the body to produce blood flow to perform basic bodily functions.

To demonstrate how yoga can steer the body away from dangers such as cardiovascular issues; a study published by Complementary Therapies in Medicine explored the benefits of yoga among older adults at risk of cardiovascular disease. Using an 8 week yoga program focusing on detail, precision and alignment of yoga postures, 42 participants completed the intervention. 

The analysis revealed that practising yoga improved overall physical function and capacity, reduced stress, improved quality of sleep and encouraged participants to lead healthier lifestyles overall. 

To get involved in a contemporary form, see what rocket yoga is all about.

#3 Supports Mental Health and Wellbeing 

is pilates harder than yoga

Even at peak physical fitness, having low mental health can be debilitating and demotivating in all aspects of life. So, it’s important to look after your mind as well as your body - but which is better to enhance mental health, yoga or Pilates? 

This brings us to wellbeing and stress-busting benefits of yoga vs Pilates that we discussed previously. Any form of exercise will boost mental health, but yoga takes the lead for reducing stress and anxiety due to its spiritual pursuits in uniting mind, body and breath. 

This is a key difference between Pilates and yoga, as many yoga styles incorporate areas of mindfulness, meditation and close analysis of the body. There are countless studies to show the psychological benefits of yoga. For example, Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice examined yoga as a stress management tool to assist in alleviating depression and anxiety. 

The study involved women who were referred to a yoga clinic from July 2006 to July 2007. They participated in two 90 minute classes a week for two months, leading to significant reduction in anxiety - suggesting that yoga can complement or assist medical therapy. 

Yoga requires focus and concentration to keep you anchored in the moment and away from daily stresses and distractions. The use of deeper breathing and detoxifying postures can help to calm the nervous system, creating headspace and managing your mental health. 

Its teachings can become habitual and incorporated into your daily life to notice intrusive thoughts, your breathing pattern, or recognise where you might be gripping or holding tension in your body, such as the jaw, shoulders or neck. 

A great way to increase mental wellbeing is to join in with a friend or partner in the best yoga challenges: 1 & 2 People - go head to head!

#4 Diverse Range of Classes

yoga vs pilates for back pain

For those who like to switch up their exercise routine and get bored easily, we bet you’re wondering what’s better, yoga or Pilates? This is where yoga takes the win again.

Some styles are more vigorous than others and will challenge your strength, flexibility and stamina. Holding poses as well as flowing between them can raise your heart rate and make you sweat, making yoga a difficult workout!

For people wondering, ‘is Pilates harder than yoga?’ choosing power yoga, ashtanga yoga or bikram yoga will offer a challenging workout. All the while participants can reap the mental health and mind-body connection benefits, as they combine an athletic series of poses into a total-body workout. 

Additionally, there are numerous restorative and relaxing practices that focus on slow stretches and breathing exercises for flexibility, whilst also building physical strength. Restorative yoga, hatha yoga and yin yoga are more meditative, slower-paced and postures are held for a longer period of time. 

Yoga is inclusive for elderly people too. It is often recommended by the NHS to improve balance, prevent falls while also to reduce pain and mobility problems. Further, if standing is too strenuous, sessions can be modified for chair-based sessions. 

There isn’t a specific yoga style that is necessarily better or more authentic. In reality, the key is to choose a style or class that is appropriate to you and your needs, which we know can vary depending on energy levels, mood or fitness. 

The decision between Pilates vs yoga might be easy for you if you’re not a fan of the spiritual side of the practice; nonetheless we recommend giving both of them a chance for a challenging, meditative workout! 

What are the Benefits of Pilates vs Yoga?

So far, it may seem like yoga is the clear winner as we’ve covered the key aspects of what makes a good workout, and areas that strengthen the mind and body.  

However, it’s Pilates’ time to shine! Below are the key benefits of Pilates vs yoga that may be better suited to your demands.

#1 Assists Rehabilitation 

yoga or pilates for back pain

There is a clear winner when it comes to yoga v Pilates for rehabilitation. While yoga can prevent sports injuries, Pilates is a safer strengthening option for anyone who is prone to injury, or recovering from one. 

Many injuries are caused by muscular imbalances, this is a result of poor posture, form or the way we walk or move. This is because pressure on some muscles can increase, while others weaken, causing an imbalance. 

If you’re trying to choose between Pilates or yoga for runners, then Pilates offers equal training for all muscle groups on both sides of the body to ensure muscle balance. This builds a stronger body for performing daily tasks, and other exercises such as running! 

Interestingly, if you’re deciding between yoga or Pilates for posture, Pilates was invented to aid rehabilitation by strengthening the core and toning your entire body for better strength, posture and flexibility.

For example, a study published by Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy Journal examined the effectiveness of Pilates for partial anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. This is an injury to the connective tissues which attach bone to bone, connecting your thigh bone to your shin bone. 

Results showed that participants experienced significant improvement following the 12 week Pilates programme, overall they had a higher satisfaction with the level of knee stability compared to the group who didn’t practise Pilates. 

You can find out more about how to prevent ACL injuries here in our article.

Comparing Pilates vs yoga, Pilates has the upperhand in regard to rehabilitation. More dynamic yoga styles are not recommended for beginners and can lead to injuries, or worsen existing ones, especially if you are unfamiliar with the poses and form. 

If you have an injury, such as deciding between yoga or Pilates for back pain, always consult your GP or physiotherapist before starting a new exercise. It’s best to get professional advice on exactly what exercises will help you. 

#2 Improves Core Strength 

benefits of yoga and pilates

If you’re choosing between yoga or Pilates for abs focused benefits, Pilates focuses heavily on the core for better posture, balance, strength and stability overall! A strong core will protect your spine and help you move in a more controlled, efficient way. 

The focus on the core as the ‘centre’ of your body is what makes Pilates different from yoga. A strong core will support your lower back, lower abdominals and pelvic floor. When choosing yoga or Pilates for posture, Pilates will certainly help you build the supportive muscles that keep our body in alignment. 

Before beginning a Pilates session, breathing exercises are typically used to engage the core for stability and good form; you are encouraged to keep your abs contracted throughout a Pilates class, even when working other areas of your body. 

This factor also helps the decision between Pilates or yoga for toning. A Pilates workout begins at the core and builds strength from there - challenging the hip, glutes, thighs, shoulders and arm muscles. Ultimately, the aim is to help you move freely and feel stable at your centre.

The journal of Isokinetics and Exercise Science published research on the effect of core stability training using Pilates. Participants practised Pilates for 8 weeks, focusing on lower extremity muscle strength and postural stability. 

Results indicated a key difference between Pilates vs yoga benefits, and Pilates core stability training enhanced motor performance skills while preventing musculoskeletal disorders. For reference, these are injuries of the muscles, nerves, tendons, joints, cartilage or spinal discs. 

If you’re tired of the same exercises and choosing yoga or Pilates for abs, Pilates can introduce new ways of engaging the core. However, you don’t need a rock solid core to practise Pilates! Beginners are welcome and there are plenty of modifications and progressive exercises that will build strength. 


#3 Alleviates Back Pain

yoga or pilates for posture

When it comes to yoga vs Pilates for back pain, the rehabilitation and core strengthening pursuits of Pilates make it a winner! The small, low-impact movements aim to stabilise muscles of the back and core; this can have a restorative effect on the lower back and improve posture.

You can find all of the benefits of good posture here in our article!

Pilates sessions also focus on precise form and careful movement, allowing for a safer workout if you have any back issues. If you’re choosing Pilates or yoga for toning, yoga has a greater risk of exacerbating back problems, whilst Pilates will work to tone your back and core to protect it. 

This is important to consider when choosing yoga or Pilates for back issues, the difference between Pilates and yoga is that yoga has a greater emphasis on flexibility. Therefore, you may need the strengthening focus of Pilates before embarking on a yoga practice. 

Certain yoga postures such as backbends, twists and cobras can aggravate back pain and push it beyond its limits, especially if the muscles haven’t been worked in a while and are sensitive. This is something to keep in mind when choosing Pilates or yoga for scoliosis; we will talk some more about this too a little later! 

The Journal of Sport Rehabilitation studied the effects of Pilates on patients with lower back pain. They specifically analysed the effects Pilates had on the way the patients walked, which can help us decide between yoga or Pilates for posture. 

The patients who took part in 15 sessions of Pilates saw an improvement in a more balanced use of muscles when walking, as well as a reduction of pain. In turn, they were no longer compromising their posture to alleviate pain when they walked. 

So, you’re wondering, is yoga or Pilates better for pregnancy and back pain? The muscle balancing benefits of Pilates will support the spine’s flexibility and alignment. Moreover, Joseph Pilates understood that strengthening all muscle groups in the body will inevitably assist areas that need extra support. 

However, if you do want to try yoga or Pilates for back pain, or for pregnancy, always consult your GP before. Exercises need to be tailored to the individual for them to be beneficial in rehabilitation. 

#4 Helps With Weight Loss

pilates vs yoga for flexibility

Comparing Pilates vs yoga for weight loss will depend on your fitness level, the type of class you choose and the effort you put into it. However, Pilates is arguably more intense and results may be noticed faster than yoga!

The focus on a total-body workout makes Pilates different from yoga and you’ll definitely feel the burn. Strengthening your muscles will also increase the fat burning efficiency of the body, which makes it the perfect companion to other forms of exercise for weight loss. 

If your fitness goal is to lose weight, the NHS advises combining Pilates with a healthy diet and some aerobic activities such as swimming, walking, running or cycling. These exercises go well with Pilates or yoga for toning and weight loss. 

If you want to enhance your workout and incorporate yoga or Pilates to lose weight, Pilates’ structure is similar to a typical exercise routine. This can make Pilates very convenient to fit in with reps and timing of other exercise forms, such as HIIT, aerobics or strength training. 

Contrasting Pilates vs yoga for weight loss, Pilates has more room for progression and performing more difficult strength exercises over time. In particular, a reformer Pilates class and more advanced classes will burn more calories and elevate your heart rate. 

In terms of calorie burning in Pilates vs yoga, the option to use machines and add cardio to Pilates will burn additional calories. Pilates has evolved to be more focused on working out, whereas yoga still holds more spiritual pursuits, as there is less focus on weight loss and calorie burning. 

Any muscle-strengthening activity will help you maintain a healthy weight. Not only is Pilates a great choice alongside cardio and aerobic exercise, its effects on stability, strength and flexibility will boost your fitness and performance, making for a great workout and better results!

Getting Started

pilates or yoga for toning

There’s no better way of finding out what is the difference between yoga and Pilates than giving them both a try! Remember, there is a difference between yoga and Pilates mats. Choose a thinner mat for yoga stability, and a thicker mat for Pilates comfort and to avoid injury. 

If you are a complete beginner or have specific needs, joining a class is the best way to experience the benefits of yoga and Pilates, with the help and guidance of a professional trainer. Having someone present means you’ll get instructions on form or modifications tailored to your body. 

There are also plenty of free resources and classes available online to show you both Pilates and yoga benefits. This is a great option if you are familiar with the exercises and know your body’s limits.

The NHS fitness studio exercise videos can help you compare yoga and Pilates. This is a safe option for beginners and anyone with specific problems in the back or knees; specifically those suffering from arthritis, scoliosis, osteoporosis, MS or fibromyalgia. 

YouTube also has an abundance of free yoga and Pilates classes for all levels of experience, fitness and ages. Search for something specific, such as yoga or Pilates for abs, and there’s a good chance there’ll be a video for it! 

Our top recommendations for yoga can be found here. These include the well-known Yoga with Adriene, who has videos to teach you specific poses. Also offering yoga for beginners and her 30 day yoga series - which are a great starting point. 

For Pilates, we recommend Fitness Blender’s Pilates videos. They have an abundance of other exercise videos too which partner up well with Pilates! We also recommend checking out IsaWelly, Move with Nicole and John Garey TV

If you are deciding between Pilates vs yoga for men, Fitness Blender and John Garey’s channels have male-led classes to show you the moves! John Garey’s channel includes videos of using Pilates reformer equipment, perfect if you want to see how it works before joining a class. 

You can browse our list of the best free yoga apps here.

Which is Better: Yoga or Pilates?

yoga or pilates to lose weight

We’ve determined that yoga and Pilates will target new muscle groups and improve your strength, flexibility, posture and breathing technique, all the while being adaptable for anyone to practise. 

There is no clear winner here. It depends on why you want to incorporate yoga or Pilates into your fitness regime and what you want to get out of it. If you want to try yoga or Pilates to lose weight, combining the exercises with aerobics will give you the best results! 

Ultimately, we recommend giving both forms of exercises a try to determine Pilates vs yoga benefits. You may be surprised by which one suits you best.

FAQs

Is Pilates Harder Than Yoga?

pilates or yoga for runners

The difficulty of yoga v Pilates will depend on you, your fitness level and what sort of exercises you are used to; it will also depend on the type of class you choose.

If you want to build a stronger core or improve stability and posture, Pilates has a greater focus on building strength. This makes it easy to decide between yoga vs Pilates for toning, as Pilates gives more attention to working specific muscle groups - especially the core. 

If you feel confident with your fitness and strength, but are deciding between Pilates vs yoga for flexibility of the body and joints, yoga will be the perfect challenge for you!

Contrasting the difficulty level of Pilates vs yoga for weight loss, combining either exercise with other sports or aerobic exercises will boost your calorie burn and make for a challenging workout. 

The benefits of yoga and Pilates are how accessible and inclusive both exercises are. It’s very easy to modify the workout and make it gentler or more challenging on your body. 

If you have a special someone who is a lover of Pilates, here is a list of Pilates gift ideas.

What is the Difference Between Yoga and Pilates Mats? 

pilates vs yoga for men

This brings us to another yoga vs Pilates difference. Although both mat types are usually about the same size and have a textured surface for gripping, the main difference is the thickness. This can help you choose between yoga or Pilates for a bad back! 

Yoga mats are typically thinner to help you maintain balance when holding postures, and you’ll be able to feel your hands and feet firmly planted on the ground for stability. 

However, Pilates mats are thicker and provide more cushioning. This is because a lot of Pilates exercises are floor-based and performed on the back or stomach; therefore, a thicker mat will support the spine and avoid injury or discomfort.

Pilates or Yoga for Runners? 

difference between yoga and pilates mat

If you are a runner choosing Pilates versus yoga, they both have their merits! Areas that can assist in running are the power of both to:

  • Build strength and stability
  • Stretch your muscles
  • Prevent injury
  • Offer breathing techniques
  • Teach mind-body connection

These are all important factors for better running. 

Due to these similaires, it's sometimes difficult to choose between Pilates or yoga for runners, so let’s look at some examples. Examining the effects of yoga exercises in distance runners, the British Journal of Sports Medicine published the results of a trial which had participants perform yoga and motivational shouting.

The running performance of the group participating in yoga exercises improved significantly; yoga also had a greater effect on performance and motivation, than the motivational shouting exercises!

Pilates is similarly ideal for runners. It is likely that runners who participate in Pilates training, endure a significant improvement in their performance, even aiding recovery and strengthening muscles. 

Comparing Pilates vs yoga for running, it’s clear that either exercise would make a great companion. We recommend trying both, this way you can experiment with your own results.

If you want to push yourself the extra mile, you can use one of the best yoga straps to help your poses.

Pilates or Yoga for Scoliosis?

is yoga or pilates better for pregnancy

Low-impact exercises that improve the mobility of your spine will help to reduce symptoms of scoliosis; both yoga and Pilates offer useful exercises for a scoliosis rehabilitation program. 

Rehabilitation programs are specifically aimed at counteracting abnormal loading that occurs in the spine of patients with scoliosis. Pilates and yoga can improve flexibility, mobility and strengthen the spine, back and core.

The evidence of yoga vs Pilates for back pain is clear in a report published by the Journal of Advanced Pharmacy Education & Research, it saw 10 adolescent patients with scoliosis participate in an integrated exercise program.

The program included a combination of yoga v Pilates exercises that focus on core stability, stretching and muscle stabilising. After taking 2 sessions per week for 6 months, results showed that the program improved posture and decreased curvature of the spine.

The Pilates exercises that rebalanced muscles and aligned posture were particularly effective. 

To decide between Pilates versus yoga, we recommend trying Pilates first. It was invented for the purpose of rehabilitation by aligning and strengthening the core muscles that protect the spine. 

However, it is not guaranteed that yoga or Pilates for a bad back will work for you, so always consult your GP or physiotherapist for exercises tailored to your specific needs! 

Is Yoga or Pilates Better for Pregnancy? 

pilates or yoga for scoliosis

With specific adaptations and modifications, yoga and Pilates are considered safe and beneficial for people who are pregnant. 

However, we recommend consulting your GP or midwife before trying either exercise, or attend a specific pregnancy class with a trained instructor. For instance, when considering yoga vs Pilates for back pain, yoga might not be the best option due to its focus on flexibility.   

Pilates is considered one of the most effective exercises for pre and postnatal women as it targets the muscles generally weakened during pregnancy. The exercises build strength and endurance in the pelvis, core and back muscles for better stability. 

However, yoga is a great option to gently release tension and maintain muscle strength. There are specific prenatal yoga classes for key areas such as pelvic floor, neck and shoulders, boosting energy levels and maintaining flexibility. 

Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice published a report for yoga during pregnancy, to investigate the effects of yoga on labour pain and delivery outcomes. The results showed that yoga contributed to a reduction of pain in labour and improved childbirth, also contributing to a decreased number of caesareans and shorter labour duration. 

Comparing Pilates vs yoga benefits, the meditative and relaxation pursuits of yoga are perfect for relieving any stress. Having a strong connection and awareness of your physical, and mental health during pregnancy is always a benefit! 

So, is yoga or Pilates better for pregnancy? This will ultimately depend on your body and which one feels right. Both exercises have their benefits and will help you develop a strong mind-body connection and show you how to use your breath for mindfulness. 

The important thing to remember is that if pregnant people wish to exercise, the goal should be to maintain fitness, not to improve it. Don’t overstretch or push yourself when your body is already under a lot of pressure!

For comfort and assistance, browse our list of the best yoga blankets.

What About Pilates vs Yoga for Men? 

pilates and yoga benefits

There are no limitations on who can benefit from both the physical and mental benefits of Pilates and yoga. Neither exercise is designed for a specific gender, which means anybody can take part and enjoy. 

However, there is a common misconception that Pilates and yoga are for women, due to their principles or exercise movements being considered too ‘easy’ or ‘feminine’due its nature of generally attracting more female participants.

As we’ve discovered, this is not the case; so, don’t miss out on the benefits these exercises can give you! You can adapt yoga or Pilates to lose weight, build strength and improve your wellbeing - goals that are sought after from all genders.

The Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice Journal published an article on understanding the barriers for yoga participation among men in Australia. 

The barriers they identified included a preference for other forms of activity due to the non-competitive nature of yoga, ‘bloke’ culture and masculine ideals on society. They also felt that yoga is often a female-dominated practice.

In reality, both Pilates and yoga can assist in the performance of more aerobic and high-impact exercises, especially to recover and avoid injury to ensure you can keep on training. 

If you are deciding between Pilates vs yoga for men, consider the key benefits we have outlined and try both!

Conclusion

In our opinion, you can’t go wrong with either one of these exercises; they greatly complement each other, so why not try both together?

Pilates will build core strength for better yoga, while yoga will improve flexibility for better Pilates. Doing either exercise once or twice a week will benefit your strength, fitness and wellbeing overall and if you want to become a fitness expert yourself - find our courses for personal training here

Or, you can even go the extra mile and find out more about our CPD courses on offer here at OriGym, to get the edge on your competitors; dont forget! You can download our course prospectus to view all of our courses.

Resources:

  1. Jonathan Myers, Exercise and Cardiovascular Health. Circulation (2003).  
  2. Gina K. Alexandera, Kim E. Innes, Terry K. Selfe, Cynthia J. Brown, “More than I expected”: Perceived benefits of yoga practice among older adults at risk for cardiovascular disease. Complementary Therapies in Medicine (2013).
  3. Marie Toms, Yoga and how it can benefit you. Heart Matters Magazine.
  4. Derya Çelik, Nilgun Turkel, The effectiveness of Pilates for partial anterior cruciate ligament injury. Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy (2017). 
  5. Jae-Ho Yu, Gyu-Chang Lee, Effect of core stability training using pilates on lower extremity muscle strength and postural stability in healthy subjects. Isokinetics and Exercise Science (2012). 
  6. Juliana Limba da Fonseca, Marcio Magini, and Thais Helena de Freitas, Laboratory Gait Analysis in Patients with Low Back Pain before and after a Pilates Intervention. Journal of Sport Rehabilitation (2009). 
  7. B Donohue, A Miller, M Beisecker, D Houser, R Valdez, S Tiller, T Taymar, Effects of brief yoga exercises and motivational preparatory interventions in distance runners: results of a controlled trial. British Journal of Sports Medicine (2006).
  8. Mahmoud Ibrahim Elsayed Aly, Fatma Seddik Amin, Mohamed Abdelmonem Negm, Aliaa Attyah, Mohamed Diab, Effect of integrated exercise program on posture in adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis (case study). Journal of Advanced Pharmacy Education & Research (2019). 
  9. Fereshteh Jahdi, Fatemeh Sheikhan, Hamid Haghani, Bahare Sharifi, Azizeh Ghaseminejad, Mahshad Khodarahmian, Nicole Rouhana, Yoga during pregnancy: The effects on labor pain and delivery outcomes (A randomized controlled trial). Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice (2017). 
  10. Jonathan Y. Cagas, Stuart J.H. Biddle, Ineke Vergeer, Yoga not a (physical) culture for men? Understanding the barriers for yoga participation among men. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice (2021).

Written by Jessica Greenall

Content Writer & Fitness Enthusiast

Jess studied English and American Literature and Drama at University of Kent, graduating with first-class honours degree. She went on to gain experience in content marketing, copywriting and journalism, and has written for a variety of organisations and websites. Her passion for health and fitness led her to OriGym. She is particularly interested in the benefits of exercise and nutrition on mental health and wellbeing. Alongside writing, Jess is an English teacher and she enjoys cycling, swimming, hiking, yoga and learning languages in her spare time. 

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