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Which is Better Workout: Yoga vs Pilates?

Yoga  and Pilates both offer some great benefits. (Photo via Pexels/Karolina Grabowska)
Yoga and Pilates both offer some great benefits. (Photo via Pexels/Karolina Grabowska)

Yoga and pilates are exercises that offer tons of benefits. They have significantly evolved in recent years, and are now widely available at fitness studios and gyms.

Yoga and pilates are low-intense workouts that focus on bodyweight resistance, enhancing overall health and leading to a better quality of life. Many consider them to be the same, but they are not.


Yoga

An ancient practice that originated in India, yoga has grown and become popular in the west in the last few decades. As a fitness workout, yoga combines physical poses or asanas with different breathing patterns or pranayamas. It has great elements of mindfulness and relaxation and is sometimes also referred to as a meditative movement.

There are several types of yoga, namely Hatha yoga, Vinyasa yoga, power yoga, Yin yoga, etc. They're either slow-paced, fast-paced, or even feature advanced postures.

Across different types of yoga, practitioners perform different poses and include deep breathing in those movements. The poses and transitions can vary, but all strive to connect the practitioner more deeply with their breath and body.


Benefits of Yoga

Yoga has no dearth of physical and mental benefits. Regular yoga practice can:

  • Improve sleep
  • Improve flexibility
  • Manage weight
  • Improve functioning of body organs
  • Help with anxiety and depression, etc.

In addition to the aforementioned benefits, yoga is also known to offer positive effects on medical conditions, including multiple sclerosis, respiratory problems, chronic pain, arthritis, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes.


Pilates

Pilates was created by Joseph Pilates in the 1920s as a way to rehabilitate injured soldiers during World War 1. Since then, it has become increasingly popular and today, there are two major forms of it: mats and reformers.

Both are low-impact practices, with the primary focus being on strengthening the body and developing core muscles. While mat classes require a mat to implement bodyweight resistance, a reformer class uses a machine with spring resistance to execute exercises.

In pilates, you first need to adopt a posture and then work on your core by moving your legs and arms.


Benefits of Pilates

Like yoga, pilates also offers a plethora of benefits. It can:

  • Improve stability and flexibility
  • Build core muscles, strength, and endurance
  • Works on overall posture
  • Reduces lower back pain
  • Improves balance
  • Eases joint pain

In addition to these benefits, pilates can also be beneficial for those with health conditions, including urinary incontinence, arthritis, joint injury, respiratory problems, back pain, etc.


Differences between Yoga and Pilates

Although yoga and pilates have a few common benefits, they have some significant differences.

While pilates strengthens the entire body with the focus being the core, yoga doesn’t revolve around any particular area of the body - rather its major focus is breathing. Although pilates also incorporates specific breathing patterns, it’s different from yoga. In yoga, breathing work is used for calmness, while in pilates, the breath is typically used to strengthen the muscles.

Another major difference between yoga and pilates is that yoga includes holding poses for a few breath cycles. Pilates, though, keeps the practitioners moving from start to finish. Yoga allows bringing focus inward for the practitioner, while pilates is all about outward focus on the physical body.


Yoga or Pilates: Which one is better?

Yoga and Pilates are both excellent forms of fitness for the mind and body. While both are great, one might be better and more beneficial for you depending on your fitness level, goals, and health condition.

It's difficult to say whether yoga or pilates is better suited for you. If you want to increase flexibility and strength, pilates might be the better option for you, but to improve your overall physical and mental wellness, yoga would be the better choice. Nevertheless, it depends on your fitness goals.


Takeaway

Yoga and pilates are both outstanding additions to your fitness routine. Both can help you achieve your desired results if you're looking to improve mental clarity, enhance flexibility and mobility, increase core strength, and improve body appearance. So, don’t spend too much time thinking about which one is better. Just get on the mat, and your body will thank you either way.

Note: Talk to your doctor or physical therapist before trying yoga or pilates. This is especially important if you're pregnant or have any health concern. Always consult a certified instructor before kickstarting any exercise programme, as incorrect form and posture can cause severe muscle pain or even injury.

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Edited by Bhargav
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