Yoga vs Pilates – Both Have Their Benefits

Strength
  • Yoga postures build endurance in every large muscle group but strength is not the main focus. A rule of thumb is that yoga is more about how you feel and Pilates about how you look.
  • Pilates uses resistance to build strength and places more emphasis on physical conditioning. It works all the muscle groups resulting in a leaner, stronger body.
Flexibility
  • Yoga is unsurpassed in enhancing flexibility and increasing range of joint motion. In a study from the University of Wisconsin, eight weeks of yoga practice improved flexibility by 13-35%.
  • Pilates, rather than stretching to improve flexibility, focuses on why a certain muscle is tight and tries to solve the problem.
Abs & core muscles
  • Yoga works the abs and core muscles, but this isn’t a primary focus. Work in this area is much less demanding and painstaking in yoga.
  • Pilates has a unique focus on core muscles in the trunk and pelvis to form and flatten the tummy and build core strength.
Mental wellbeing
  • Integral to Yoga practice is spiritual wellbeing. The physical practice gives the body a feeling of balance and well-being, while breathing techniques enhance inner focus and relaxation.
  • Pilates is considered a mind-body exercise and so requires concentration, which can distract you from daily worries, but mental wellbeing isn’t such a focus as it is in yoga.
Back pain
  • Yoga improves spinal flexibility and strength. However, certain postures will be unsuitable – for example, deep forward bends should be avoided after a slipped disc.
  • Pilates, with its focus on the core, is very good for supporting and strengthening the back. Research in Canada found it valuable in alleviating non-specific lower-back pain.