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Pilates vs Yoga: Which One Is Better?

Published September 17, 2019
Ben Kissam

Written By: Ben Kissam, BS

Ben has a B.S. in Movement and Sports Science and over 7 years Certified Personal Training Experience.

pilates-vs-yoga
<script type="application/ld+json"> { "@type":"BlogPosting", "headline":"Pilates vs Yoga: Which One Is Better?", "datePublished":"September 17, 2019", "description":"You can’t go wrong in the Pilates vs yoga debate—but the best way to do yoga or pilates might surprise you.", "image": "https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/media/public/2019/08/yoga-mat-roll-hands-woman-thumbnail-0244.jpg" }, } ] } </script> <article> <div> <ul> <li><a href="#section1">What is Yoga?</a></li> <li><a href="#section2">What is Pilates?</a></li> <li><a href="#section3">What is the Difference Between Yoga and Pilates?</a></li> <li><a href="#section4">Which is Better for Weight Loss: Yoga or Pilates?</a></li> <li><a href="#section5">Does Yoga or Pilates Tone Your Body?</a></li> <li><a href="#section6">Beginner Workouts—The <i>Best</i> Approach For Weight Loss</a></li> </ul> </div> <section> <p>You’ve heard about Pilates and yoga. Maybe even know someone that lost weight using one or both of them.</p> <p>And now, you’re wondering if either yoga or Pilates is better for you and your weight loss goals. </p> <p>What you’ll find in the Pilates vs yoga debate is that you can’t really go wrong with either. Both are great for improving joint flexibility, increasing core strength, and even improving mental health.</p> <p>But the <i>best</i> way to get optimal results—that is, weight loss or long, lean muscles—using pilates or yoga might surprise you.</p> <p>In this article, we’ll settle the Pilates vs yoga debate and show you the most effective (and surprising) way to use either to <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/how-to-set-realistic-fitness-goals-you-can-achieve" rel="noreferrer">reach your goals</a>.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/yoga-pose-lunge-stretch-sunset-outdoor-water-0244.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/yoga-pose-lunge-stretch-sunset-outdoor-water-0244.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/yoga-pose-lunge-stretch-sunset-outdoor-water-0244.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/yoga-pose-lunge-stretch-sunset-outdoor-water-LR-0244.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="yoga-pose-lunge-stretch"> </picture> <script type="application/ld+json">{"@context":"https://schema.org","@type":"FAQPage","mainEntity":[{"@type":"Question","name":"What is yoga?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"Yoga blends breathing exercises, meditation, stretching, and holding postures 1. There are several different types of yoga, and a yoga class might last anywhere from 10 to 90 minutes. At a studio or boutique gym, you’ll probably find that a one-hour yoga class is most common."}}]}</script> <h2 id="section1">What is yoga?</h2> <p>Yoga blends breathing exercises, meditation, stretching, and holding postures <sup>1</sup>. There are several different types of yoga, and a yoga class might last anywhere from 10 to 90 minutes. At a studio or <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/why-people-are-choosing-boutique-fitness-studios/" rel="noreferrer">boutique gym</a>, you’ll probably find that a one-hour yoga class is most common.</p> <h3>Benefits of yoga</h3> <p>The benefits of yoga are well known and plentiful. Yoga has been used for thousands of years for improving health, decreasing stress, gaining mental clarity, and building <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/foolproof-guide-to-building-lean-muscle" rel="noreferrer">lean muscles</a>. </p> <p>Here are some other <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/what-is-functional-training-and-can-it-benefit-you/" rel="noreferrer">functional</a> benefits:</p> <ul> <li><b>Improved balance</b>. Many yoga postures are practiced on one leg or while holding challenging postures. This makes yoga an amazing form of exercise for older people. </li> <li><b>Increased core stability</b>. Most yoga poses are <i>isometric</i>, meaning you hold a position and focus on breathing while you hold it. This type of exercise strengthens your core—the muscles in your <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/the-best-lower-ab-exercises-you-can-do-at-home/" rel="noreferrer">abs</a>, <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/best-at-home-exercises-for-lower-back-pain" rel="noreferrer">lower back</a>, and <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/best-oblique-exercises-for-core-strength" rel="noreferrer">obliques</a>, which can rid you of <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/best-at-home-exercises-for-lower-back-pain" rel="noreferrer">back pain</a> and carry over to other exercises.</li> <li><b>Improved mental health</b>. Learning to breathe and ‘let go’ during yoga practice carries over outside of your workouts, improving clarity and giving you a tool to calm down.</li> </ul> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/yoga-group-workout-stretch-sitting-side-arm-0244.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/yoga-group-workout-stretch-sitting-side-arm-0244.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/yoga-group-workout-stretch-sitting-side-arm-0244.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/yoga-group-workout-stretch-sitting-side-arm-LR-0244.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="yoga-group-workout-stretch"> </picture> <script type="application/ld+json">{"@context":"https://schema.org","@type":"FAQPage","mainEntity":[{"@type":"Question","name":"What is Pilates?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"Pilates is another low-impact fitness workout. Like yoga, it’s good for improving health and building long, lean muscles 2. A Pilates class at a boutique gym or studio usually runs between 45 and 60 minutes.\n\nThe goal of Pilates is a little more narrow than yoga: it’s to improve postural alignment and core flexibility. Pilates wants to help you build a strong, functional core in order to build a foundation to move without pain and perform other forms of exercise."}}]}</script> <h2 id="section2">What is Pilates?</h2> <p>Pilates is another low-impact fitness workout. Like yoga, it’s good for improving health and building long, lean muscles <sup>2</sup>. A Pilates class at a <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/why-people-are-choosing-boutique-fitness-studios/" rel="noreferrer">boutique gym</a> or studio usually runs between 45 and 60 minutes.</p> <p>The goal of Pilates is a little more narrow than yoga: it’s to improve postural alignment and core flexibility. Pilates wants to help you build a strong, functional core in order to build a foundation to move without pain and perform other forms of exercise <sup>3</sup>.</p> <h3>Benefits of Pilates</h3> <p>Pilates and yoga are similarly beneficial. </p> <p>Balance, better posture, reduced joint pain, increased core stability, and improved flexibility are all benefits of doing Pilates <sup>4</sup>.</p> <p>Instead of relisting all the benefits, let’s look at the subtle differences and which is better for beginners.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/yoga-pose-sitting-cross-leg-static-woman-0244.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/yoga-pose-sitting-cross-leg-static-woman-0244.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/yoga-pose-sitting-cross-leg-static-woman-0244.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/yoga-pose-sitting-cross-leg-static-woman-LR-0244.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="yoga-pose-sitting-cross-leg-static-woman"> </picture> <script type="application/ld+json">{"@context":"https://schema.org","@type":"FAQPage","mainEntity":[{"@type":"Question","name":"What is the difference between yoga and Pilates?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"Both are fitness workouts that use bodyweight exercises and breathing to make you healthier, stronger, and more flexible.\n\nBut certain things make the two workouts different from each other.\n\nYoga places a bigger emphasis on deep breathing and using the whole body for resistance. Something unique to yoga is how diverse it is; there are many different forms, some of which may not be comfortable or suitable for beginners.\n\n(For example, Bikram yoga is a 90-minute class done in a 100-degree room!)\n\nPilates, on the other hand, focuses on increasing core strength and relaxing tense muscles through breathing and shorter exercises.\n\nFinally, yoga postures are usually held longer than Pilates exercises. And while yoga focuses on connecting the spirit, mind, and body, Pilates is mainly focused on core alignment.."}}]}</script> <h2 id="section3">What is the difference between yoga and Pilates?</h2> <p>Both are fitness workouts that use bodyweight exercises and breathing to make you healthier, stronger, and more flexible.</p> <p>But certain things make the two workouts different from each other.</p> <p>Yoga places a bigger emphasis on deep breathing and using the whole body for resistance. Something unique to yoga is how diverse it is; there are many different forms, some of which may not be comfortable or suitable for beginners.</p> <p><i>(For example, Bikram yoga is a 90-minute class done in a 100-degree room!)</i></p> <p>Pilates, on the other hand, focuses on increasing core strength and relaxing tense muscles through breathing and shorter exercises <sup>5</sup>. </p> <p>Finally, yoga postures are usually held longer than Pilates exercises. And while yoga focuses on connecting the spirit, mind, and body, Pilates is mainly focused on core alignment.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section4"> <script type="application/ld+json">{"@context":"https://schema.org","@type":"FAQPage","mainEntity":[{"@type":"Question","name":"Which is better for weight loss: yoga or pilates?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"At the end of the day, the best exercise for weight loss is the program you can stick with. That’s why it’s important to pick something that will work for you long-term.\n\nConsider how long you’ve been exercising, what you’d like to improve, and the types of yoga or Pilates workouts available to you online or nearby.\n\nFor true beginners, Pilates might be the way to go—only because the likelihood of a good first experience is slightly higher. But if the benefits of yoga seem more enticing, do a bit of research before going to find class that fits your needs or limitations."}}]}</script> <h2>Which is better for weight loss: yoga or pilates?</h2> <p>This question is hard to answer and depends on who you are. <i>What’s your body type, and what’s your exercise history like? Do you have pre-existing injuries?</i> </p> <p>These types of questions will help you decide whether yoga or Pilates is better for losing weight. Here’s a bit more information to help inform your choice.</p> <h3>Yoga for weight loss</h3> <p>If you’ve had a lot of injuries or are just getting back into working out, Pilates may be preferable to yoga. You might not be able to achieve some yoga postures, which could be discouraging.</p> <p>If you have really tight muscles that make other forms of exercise challenging or like the idea of a fitness workout providing mental health benefits, yoga might be the way to go.</p> <h3>Pilates for weight loss</h3> <p>If you’re really looking to target the midsection or just getting back into exercise, go with Pilates.</p> <p>And keep in mind that some Pilates classes require expensive equipment <sup>6</sup>. But most yoga and Pilates studios offer free or reduced-price classes to try it out.</p> <p>(If not, just look for beginner videos online).</p> <h3>Verdict</h3> <p>At the end of the day, the best exercise for weight loss is the program you can stick with. That’s why it’s important to pick something that will work for you long-term. </p> <p>Consider how long you’ve been exercising, what you’d like to improve, and the types of yoga or Pilates workouts available to you online or nearby.</p> <p>For <i>true</i> beginners, Pilates might be the way to go—only because the likelihood of a good first experience is slightly higher. But if the benefits of yoga seem more enticing, do a bit of research before going to find class that fits your needs or limitations.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/woman-back-shoulder-muscular-fit-0244.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/woman-back-shoulder-muscular-fit-0244.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/woman-back-shoulder-muscular-fit-0244.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/woman-back-shoulder-muscular-fit-LR-0244.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="woman-back-shoulder-muscular"> </picture> <script type="application/ld+json">{"@context":"https://schema.org","@type":"FAQPage","mainEntity":[{"@type":"Question","name":"Does yoga or Pilates tone your body?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"Yes. But if you’re looking for a total body transformation, we actually recommend a slightly different approach for incorporating yoga or Pilates into your workouts.\n\nInstead of building your entire exercise schedule around yoga or Pilates, we suggest you do it in addition to your other workouts."}}]}</script> <h2 id="section5">Does yoga or Pilates tone your body?</h2> <p>Yes. But if you’re looking for a <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com" rel="noreferrer">total body transformation</a>, we actually recommend a slightly different approach for incorporating yoga or Pilates into your workouts.</p> <p>Instead of building your entire exercise schedule around yoga or Pilates, we suggest you do it <i>in addition</i> to your other workouts.</p> <h3>Why?</h3> <p>If you’re looking to tone, chances are that means you’re trying to both lose weight <i>and</i> add muscle. Yoga and Pilates might do that if you’re a beginner, but eventually you’ll need something more challenging.</p> <p>That’s why we recommend proven fat-burners like <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/what-is-functional-training-and-can-it-benefit-you/" rel="noreferrer">high-intensity interval training</a> (HIIT) or <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/circuit-training-for-weight-loss/" rel="noreferrer">circuit workouts</a>. </p> <p><a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/what-is-functional-training-and-can-it-benefit-you/" rel="noreferrer">Functional workouts</a> like this blast fat, <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/foolproof-guide-to-building-lean-muscle" rel="noreferrer">add muscle</a>, and <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/7-low-impact-cardio-exercises/" rel="noreferrer">improve your cardio</a>, and you only need to do them <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/how-often-should-you-workout" rel="noreferrer">three times per week</a> to get results, but we encourage you to move every day.</p> <h3>And then…</h3> <p>That’s when yoga or Pilates come to the rescue. If you’re new to working out, those <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/what-is-functional-training-and-can-it-benefit-you/" rel="noreferrer">functional workouts</a> might leave you feeling sore or tight. <i>That’s</i> when we recommend you add yoga or Pilates to your routine.</p> <p>Once or twice a week on top of your regular sessions, yoga or Pilates will keep your muscles long and strong and reduce soreness <sup>7</sup>.</p> <p>And bonus: if you’re hoping to tone your midsection, an extra yoga or Pilates session each week will help you prioritize core strength and stability.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section6"> <h2>Beginner Workouts—The <i>Best</i> Approach For Weight Loss</h2> <p>Check out our 27 favorite <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/27-beginner-bodyweight-exercises-that-get-results/" rel="noreferrer">beginner exercises</a>, and you’ll see many of them use common yoga and Pilates poses. </p> <p>Up down dogs, reverse crunches, Russian twist, and shoulder bridge holds are all great examples. </p> <p>As you can see, <i>we love yoga and Pilates</i>! </p> <p>By no means do we think you should shy away from yoga or Pilates to lose weight. We just recommend you maximize the fat-burning abilities of these exercises by turning them into full-body workouts!</p> <p>And after you’re done with <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/" rel="noreferrer">your workout</a>, a little yoga or Pilates is perfect for keeping your muscles long and lean and your joints healthy. This, we think, is how you can ‘have it all’ as you work towards your <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/how-to-set-realistic-fitness-goals-you-can-achieve" rel="noreferrer">fitness goals</a>.</p> <h3>Resources</h3> <ol> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/13-benefits-of-yoga" rel="nofollow noreferrer">13 Benefits of Yoga That Are Supported by Science</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/pilates-for-weight-loss" rel="nofollow noreferrer">Can Practicing Pilates Help You to Lose Weight?</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.self.com/story/5-things-to-know-before-you-take-pilates-classes" rel="nofollow noreferrer">8 Things to Know Before You Take Pilates Classes</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/pilates-vs-yoga#2" rel="nofollow noreferrer">Pilates vs. Yoga: The Differences and What's Right for You</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="http://www.energypilatesfitness.com/pilates-vs-yoga.html" rel="nofollow noreferrer">Pilates vs. Yoga - How Are They Different and Similar?</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/pilates-vs-yoga#7" rel="nofollow noreferrer">Pilates vs. Yoga: Next steps</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.webmd.com/balance/news/20131230/what-yoga-can-and-cant-do-for-you" rel="nofollow noreferrer">What Yoga Can and Can't Do for You</a></li> </ol> </section> </article>

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