Yoga vs. Pilates: What’s Different, What’s Similar, & How to Choose Between Them

Are you intrigued to increase your fitness but also looking to get in tune with your body? If so, you may have narrowed down your choices between yoga and Pilates. While they appear similar, yoga and Pilates are, actually, quite different forms of exercise that deliver different results. Let’s have a look.

Similarities of Yoga and Pilates

  • Mind-body connection: Both forms of activity focus on a mind-body connection, with a goal of bringing awareness to the body and its current state.
  • Muscle tone: Yoga and Pilates are able, to different degrees, to help tone your muscles through specific positions or exercises.
  • Flexibility: Through purposeful alignment and positioning, both yoga and Pilates can help the body increase its flexibility.
  • Breath: With deep inhalation and exhalation during exercise or poses, yoga and Pilates allow you to focus on your breathing during exercise.

Yoga and Pilates Differences

  • Mind-body connection: While there is a mind-body relationship between these forms of exercise, the approach to this connection is quite different. Yoga creates a mind-body connection through a meditative state. Pilates, on the other hand, trains the mind to focus on the body during movement to create an understanding and intent for motion.
  • Mats and machines: Yoga is practiced using a mat, on the ground, with some props to help with support and comfort. Pilates also uses mats and props for exercise but also incorporates purpose-designed Pilates machines to encourage proper movement, target exercise, and help further strengthen the body.
  • Fitness focus: Yoga is a spiritual-type practice that concentrates on the body-spirit relationship. You can use yoga to stretch and extend muscles and toning is achieved through holding yoga poses. Pilates offers more of a body-fitness focus that tones the body and improves flexibility. Pilates can be strenuous and helps with weight loss, rehabilitation, and building strength.
  • Core strength: Where yoga strength tends to be achieved through poses, Pilates strength comes from an intentional focus on the core part of the body. By building a strong core with Pilates, you can improve many other physical aspects such as posture, balance, and develop lean muscles.

How to Choose Between Yoga and Pilates

There are a few ways to help you decide whether yoga or Pilates is right for you.

  • Define fitness goals: Think about what you want to get out of your new exercise program. Are you in need of rehabilitation or is toning your body important? Are you looking for stretching or strength building, focus on the mind or increasing the core?
  • Set expectations: By better understanding the differences between yoga and Pilates, you will better set your expectations on what you can achieve. Learn about these different techniques or visit yoga and Pilates studios to understand these exercise programs better.
  • Coaching approaches: Consider how you best learn. Do you prefer an instructor that offers group instruction that you follow on your own? Or do you feel better with individual instruction and coaching? Choose the approach that better aligns with how you prefer to exercise.

Still unsure whether yoga or Pilates is right for you? The best, next step is to try each! We welcome new students every day to Firehaus Pilates with a professional studio and expert instruction. Contact us to see if Pilates is right for you!

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