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Yoga and Pilates are two types of practices that are often through together in the same fitness category. However, yoga and pilates are very different and choosing the right one will depend on what you are looking for and what your overall fitness goals are. First, let's go over the differences between the two and then we will get into how to choose between them.
What's the difference between yoga and pilates?
Difference #1: Mind, Body, Spirit
In both yoga and pilates, the idea of connecting the mind and body places a large part in the style of practice. However, yoga adds "spirit" to the mix and making connections spiritually is encouraged in large part through meditation. This is why meditation is such a large part of yoga.
Difference #2: Class Style
Yoga is more flexible when it comes to class structure. There are millions of different pose combinations that can be done to make up a yoga session. Often times, the instructor provides you with more of a guide rather than a strict structure. Because of this yoga sessions might vary widely and you won't really know what to expect from a class. Pilates, on the other hand, is more structured and therefore, more predictable. meditation is another element that makes the classes differ. Meditation is usually a part of every yoga class, not pilates.
Difference #2: Workout Style
Both yoga and pilates will help you gain more flexibility and strength. When examining the two, pilates will give you a more total body workout and focus on aligning the spine than yoga. Pilates will focus on realignment movements that will strengthen your core while in yoga, the muscles in your body will be equally put to work.
Yoga is ideal if stretching is your main goal and you would like to increase your joint flexibility. There are many different styles of yoga, choosing the right style will depend on your goals. Pilates is more focused on the core rather than stretching and the workouts will emphasis strengthening your back, arms, and inner thighs.
Related: Best Yoga Styles for Beginners
Should I Do Yoga or Pilates?
Choosing between yoga and pilates will depend on your fitness goals. Are you a runner? Do you want to improve your heart health or lose weight?
Yoga or Pilates for Runners?
Yoga for runners: Yoga can be beneficial for runners because it stretches all your muscle groups that can be stressed due to over-use while running as well as help with flexibility.
Pilates for runners: Pilates can be beneficial to runners because it will strengthen your core muscles and help you develop better balance. Posture is incredibly important for running and pilates will aim to correct your posture and improve your whole body alignment. This will help overall muscle movements and reduce the risk of injury while running.
Yoga or Pilates for Heart Health?
Yoga for Health Health: This will depend on the style of yoga, most yoga styles provide you with little cardio benefit.
Pilates for Heart Health: Beginner classes won't give you much of a cardio workout, probably the equivalent of going on a walk. Once you gain experience and reach a higher level the cardio activity will move up, reaching the equivalent of speed walking.
Yoga or Pilates for Weight Loss?
If your biggest goal is to lose weight then yoga or pilates should be practiced in addition to your workout routine. They should not be the only forms of exercise that you practice. They are both valid additions to any workout but which will help you lose weight and burn more calories?
Yoga for Weight Loss: All forms of yoga will help you tone and strengthen your muscles. The amount of calories you can expect to burn will depend on the style of yoga. With vinyasa yoga you can burn up to 600 calories per hour but it is intense and not a yoga that people practice on a daily basis.
Related: Getting started with Hot Yoga
Pilates for Weight Loss: The amount of calories burned during pilates will vary based on class and level of intensity. It's safe to say that with yoga and pilates a person will roughly burn between 120 and 220 per half hour. This also depends on how much you weight and the intensity at which you preform the workout.
Yoga or Pilates for Toning?
With the question of toning your body and building firm muscles, pilates is a better choice since it has a strong focus on building and strengthening your core muscle groups. Pilates creates and emphasis on toning where as yoga is more focused on flexibility.
Bottom line: Which is better, Yoga or Pilates?
In the end, one is not better than the other. It all depends on where you stand and what fitness goals you want to achieve. If you would like to focus more on toning, strengthening your muscle groups and core than pick pilates. If you are more focused on flexibility and want something that will also reduce stress and give you some quite time, then give yoga a try.
Related: Yoga Tips for Beginners