Yoga vs Pilates, which is right for you?

I’m sure you have heard of both, and you might even think they are the same thing.

True enough, they do share a lot of similarities – they both focus on the connection between the mind and body, and at the same time, help you sweat it out. Both are also low-impact workouts that use bodyweight resistance to build strength and stability.

If you’re thinking of trying out either Yoga or Pilates, but are unable to make a decision — which result in endless procrastinating, learning more about their differences may help you decide better.


Their origin

Yoga was created India more than 5,000 years ago. Over the years, different types of yoga have emerged to suit the different cultures. The common Hatha yoga helps you relax after a long day of work. Other types of yoga includes Ashtanga, Bikram, Kundalini, Kripalu, Sivananda, Vineyasa, et cetera. In very recent times, there’s even emergence of beer yoga.

beer yoga

On the other hand, Pilates is a relatively recent practice, created in 1920 by Joseph Pilates. He created these exercises as a form of rehabilitation and strengthening.


What muscles do they train?

Both practices can be a full body work out — they help to improve stability and flexibility, through movements that will help increase muscle elasticity.

Yoga classes are conducted in ways that will work out every muscle in your body equally. Mindfulness and deep breathing are key elements of the classes. As each posture is accompanied by a counter-posture, it helps creates balance in your body. While you might require core strength in yoga, it is more of a component of yoga, rather than its main focus. Yoga is known to help you relax and think positively; so if you are feeling a little stressed out, it’s probably a good time to take up some yoga classes!

Pilates classes place huge emphasis on the core and spine. This group of muscles which includes your tummy and back is engaged whenever you try to hold a position. This would help to boost your metabolism, builds muscle and more importantly, burn calories! Pilates is also known to help to prevent and treat back pain. Even with its focus on the core, it gives you a full body workout nonetheless. If your core is weak, and you always get backaches due to long hours of sitting at work, grab a colleague to join you for a pilates class!

Is one more intense than the other?

It’s difficult to compare, to be honest, as they are so many different types and levels of classes under each sport. But to help you gauge better, here’s a break down:

For yoga, the intensity of each class really depends on the type of classes. Techniques like hatha and iyengar yoga are gentle and slow, whereas Bikram and power yoga are faster and more challenging. So in comparison, a 50-minute hatha yoga class burns about 145 calories, while a power yoga class burns 250 calories. If your goal is losing weight, take up the challenge and try some power yoga!

Intensity of pilates class vary according to their level of difficulty. A 50-minute beginner workout burns about 175 calories; an advanced, between 255 and 375 calories. There is also two types of pilates workout, Mat work and Reformer. Traditional mat work allows you 50 different exercise, whereas you can explore more than 250 moves on the reformer. One benefit about the reformer: you can easily control the intensity of your workout which helps in progression.

One thing for sure? They are both very intense.


What equipments do they need?

Well, if you’re just starting out, both sport can be done perfectly well with just a mat.

However, yoga does really only require a mat, and at most a yoga block.

Pilates on the other hand, use a range of equipments — from elastic bands and stability balls to reformers (which looks abit like this:)

reformer pilates


How about mindfulness?

The biggest difference between the two is the emphasis on the spiritual component in classes.

Yoga classes helps you explore the mind/body/spirit connection. There will be portions of the class that are specially dedicated to meditation and chanting. Hence, if you’re someone who likes to go-with-the-flow, yoga might be your cup of tea.

On the other hand, most Pilates classes don’t offer an obvious spiritual experience. Instead, it focuses on how the connection of the mind and body can help in everyday life and activity.


TBH I still don’t know which one to go for

It mostly depends on your goals and what you would want to achieve out of it. Strong core, toned abs sounds great for you? Go for pilates then! If you want it to be more relaxing and balanced, then try out yoga. Those interested in challenging workout and want to swear buckets can even try out power yoga for the extra punch!

If you can’t choose, why not try Yogilates or PiYo? Combining the muscle-toning, core-strenghtening benefits of Pilates with the stability and flexibility advantages of yoga, you may get more out of it! 🙂

If this blog post does not motivate you enough to sign up for a class right now, maybe these pictures can:

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