Thousands of beginners ask themselves this question when they decide to take their health and fitness seriously. It’s tough to make a decision because many commercial gyms offer both, Pilates and yoga classes. Oftentimes, these classes are very popular.
So which is better?
The answer is… neither is better than the other. You need to choose one that is better FOR YOU. That’s what really matters. Comparing the two is akin to comparing karate and kung fu… neither is better and there are people who are experts at each art… and there are those who are beginners at each.
There is no right or wrong answer here because both yoga and Pilates have their own unique benefits. You can even do both on alternate training sessions and get the best of both worlds. They’re not mutually exclusive.
To the layman, both seem very similar and there is little difference between Pilates and yoga. However, the truth is that both have very different objectives. To make things more confusing, there are several types of yoga and Pilates too.
Making a comparison is not an easy task… but this article shall try to highlight the differences between the two.
For starters, yoga is a much more ancient training style and it originated in India about 50,000 years ago. In comparison, Pilates is a lot more recent even though it was created in the 1920s. Yoga doesn’t really credit any one person as a creator. There are many gurus… but no founder.
Pilates was created by Joseph Pilates to help people rehabilitate from illness and injury. What that means is that yoga has evolved a lot over time and there are many more variations and styles when it comes to yoga. Pilates does have variations, just not as many.
If you decide to choose yoga, you will always have new yoga techniques to learn. Hot yoga, Ananda yoga, Ashtanga yoga, etc. are some of the many types being taught till today. So, if variety is your thing, perhaps you may wish to try yoga first.
Secondly, yoga is more spiritual. It focuses on making a mind, body and spirit connection. On the other hand, since Pilates is more about rehabilitation, it concerns itself with strengthening the body, with special focus given to the powerhouse area.
People who are more spiritual and looking for inner peace and serenity would do well to take up yoga. Whereas younger people who want to get stronger or wish to get rehabilitation from sports injuries, etc. will benefit from Pilates. Different courses for different horses.
Another difference between the two is that since yoga has evolved more, it is more fluid in the sense that there are modified poses that can cater to people with different needs. If you need healing, there is one type of yoga. For strengthening, there’s another type of yoga. Focus on flexibility, breathing, spirituality, etc. are highlights of the different types of yoga.
On the other hand, Pilates is more structured and the classes similar to a large extent. While there is some variation, it doesn’t come close to the degree of variation that yoga has.
Other differences would be that yoga uses the body’s own weight as a form of resistance whereas Pilates workouts employ both bodyweight training techniques and machines.
Deep breathing known as pranayama is a yoga trademark. Yoga places a lot of emphasis on correct breathing. There is some core training in yoga but the focus is on the breathing to achieve the meditative state that is part of yoga. Pilates doesn’t have meditation as part of the training.
There are certification and accreditation boards for both Pilates and yoga. Always check that your instructor is properly certified before joining any class. It’s important that they know what they’re doing if they’re going to guide you. There are many self-taught individuals who are conducting classes for unaware participants.
If you can’t decide on one yet, go ahead and attend 3 classes of each style and see which one you like more. Stick with that. At the end of the day, as long as you choose one and do it consistently, you will see benefits in your life.