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Pilates vs. Yoga: Which Is Better For You?

Published September 17, 2019 (Revised: June 16, 2020) Read Time: 5 minutes
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.

<script type="application/ld+json"> { "@context":"", "@type":"BlogPosting", "author": { "@type": "Person", "name": "Ben Kissam, BS" }, "publisher": { "@type": "Organization", "name": "Warrior Made", "logo": { "@type": "ImageObject", "url": "", "image": "" } }, "headline":"Pilates vs. Yoga: Which Is Better For You?", "datePublished":"2019-09-17", "dateModified": "2020-06-16", "description":"Both yoga and pilates can help you lose weight and get healthy. In the pilates vs. yoga debate, learn which type of exercise is better for you.", "image": "" } </script> <script type="application/ld+json"> { "@context": "", "@type": "FAQPage", "mainEntity": [{ "@type": "Question", "name": "Does yoga or pilates burn more calories?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "Yoga burns more calories than pilates, though there are some variables to consider. According to Harvard Health, a 155 pound person will burn approximately 300 calories in a one-hour yoga session. On the other hand, the same 155 pound person will burn about 175 calories in a one-hour pilates session." } }, { "@type": "Question", "name": "Is yoga or pilates better for mental health?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "Both can be beneficial, but since yoga places an emphasis on breathing and breath control, it's probably the superior form of movement for boosting mental health. Studies have shown that learning to control your breath can be a powerful tool for managing anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues." } }] } </script> <article> <div> <ul> <li><a href="#section1">Pilates</a></li> <li><a href="#section2">Yoga</a></li> <li><a href="#section3">Does Yoga Or Pilates Burn More Calories?</a></li> <li><a href="#section4">Is Yoga Or Pilates Better For Mental Health?</a></li> <li><a href="#section5">Verdict: Which Is Better Yoga Or Pilates?</a></li> </ul> </div> <section> <p>Pilates and yoga both offer tons of health benefits.</p> <p>Both workouts can help you lose weight, improve your posture, build strength, and even reduce stress.<sup><a target="_blank" href="" rel="nofollow noreferrer">1</a></sup></p> <p>However, there are many differences between the two.</p> <p>Pilates mainly focuses on improving core strength and balance, while yoga works on total body strength and flexibility. There are benefits and drawbacks to each, depending on your goals.</p> <p>So in the pilates vs. yoga conversation, the question to ask yourself is:</p> <p><i>Which workout is better for me?</i></p> <p>Here's how to make the best decision for your personal fitness journey.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <img style="max-width:100%;" class="img-fluid" src="" alt="pilates machine"> <h2 id="section1">Pilates</h2> <p>Pilates is a type of low-impact exercise that develops strength and endurance with simple, repetitive exercises. It’s excellent for core training, specifically the <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">abs</a>, <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">glutes</a>, and <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">lower back</a> muscles.<sup><a target="_blank" href="" rel="nofollow noreferrer">2</a></sup> </p> <p>There are two types of pilates: <i>mat pilates</i>, which is what you mostly see at fitness studios, and <i>reformer pilates</i>, which is used more commonly in rehabilitation settings.</p> <p>Pilates was developed in 1923 by a man named Joseph Pilates for rehabilitation purposes. The earliest edition of his workout system was designed to help soldiers regain strength and muscle coordination after World War I! <sup><a target="_blank" href=",enough%20to%20challenge%20skilled%20athletes." rel="nofollow noreferrer">3</a></sup></p> <h3>Benefits of pilates</h3> <p>Here's a list of benefits pilates can offer you<sup><a target="_blank" href=",pelvic%20stability%20and%20muscular%20activity." rel="nofollow noreferrer">4</a></sup>:</p> <ul> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Improved core stability</a></li> <li>Better balance</li> <li>Better coordination</li> <li>Burns calories</li> <li>Can be adjusted to any fitness level</li> </ul> <h3>Drawbacks of pilates</h3> <p>On the other hand, here are some reasons pilates might not work for you:</p> <ul> <li>Pilates teaches its users to "suck in" their core muscles to activate their transverse abdominis, the deepest abdominal muscle.<sup><a target="_blank" href="" rel="nofollow noreferrer">6</a></sup> Unfortunately, this advice is slightly outdated, as current science advocates <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">abdominal bracing</a> instead of sucking in your core. <ul><li>Bracing the abs activates all the muscles in your core (the front, back, and sides) which helps protect your spine from a 360-degree angle, not just on the front side.<sup><a target="_blank" href="" rel="nofollow noreferrer">7</a></sup></li> </ul></li> <li>As a fitness workout, pilates does not do a whole lot to improve flexibility. </li> <li>Pilates does not provide many cardiovascular benefits.</li> <li>If you have back pain already, overexerting yourself during pilates could exacerbate your symptoms.<sup><a target="_blank" href="" rel="nofollow noreferrer">8</a></sup></li> <li>Each studio may teach pilates differently, meaning it may take you some time to find a studio or teacher that you like.</li> </ul> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <img style="max-width:100%;" class="img-fluid" src="" alt="group yoga"> <h2 id="section2">Yoga</h2> <p>Yoga is a type of exercise that incorporates stretching, breathing, and balancing postures into one workout strengthen your whole body. It’s been around for more than 3,000 years.<sup><a target="_blank" href="" rel="nofollow noreferrer">9</a></sup></p> <p>The word 'yoga' comes from the Sanskrit word "yuj," which means union. This makes sense, given that the practice is largely focused on unionizing, or joining, the mind and body in total focus while you hold postures or stretch.</p> <p>Many different types of yoga exist. Some common ones include hatha, vinyasa, ashtanga, and hot yoga.</p> <p>Like pilates, yoga is also a type of low-impact exercise. The two share some similarities, in part because Joseph Pilates used yoga, martial arts, and a few other popular fitness activities to create his pilates routine.<sup><a target="_blank" href=",enough%20to%20challenge%20skilled%20athletes." rel="nofollow noreferrer">10</a></sup></p> <h3>Benefits of yoga</h3> <p>Here are all the benefits of doing yoga<sup><a target="_blank" href=",strength%20and%20global%20body%20flexibility." rel="nofollow noreferrer">11</a></sup>: </p> <ul> <li>Improves flexibility and coordination</li> <li>Increases <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">strength</a></li> <li>Helps <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">relieve stress</a> and anxiety</li> <li>Improved breathing and breath control</li> <li>Burns calories</li> <li>Is adjustable for all fitness levels, and there are multiple types to experiment with</li> </ul> <h3>Drawbacks of yoga</h3> <p>Here's a list of things that could make you reconsider trying yoga:</p> <ul> <li>Some yoga practices may incorporate meditation or other inner practices, which may feel strange or uncomfortable if you haven't done them before.</li> <li>Each form of yoga varies in terms of difficulty, meaning certain classes or styles may be too challenging for you. (And trying advanced postures as a beginner could lead to injuries.)</li> <li>Certain types of yoga can only be done in studios (hot yoga, for example), and classes can be expensive.</li> <li>Like pilates, each studio offers a slightly different experience from the next.</li> </ul> <p>Basically, it can take time for you to find a place that has classes you like and can afford.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section3"> <h2>Does yoga or pilates burn more calories?</h2> <p>Yoga burns more calories than pilates, though there are some variables to consider. </p> <ul> <li>According to <a target="_blank" href="" rel="nofollow noreferrer"><i>Harvard Health</i></a>, a 155 pound person will burn approximately 300 calories in a one-hour yoga session.</li> <li>On the other hand, the same 155 pound person will burn about 175 calories in a one-hour pilates session.<sup><a target="_blank" href="" rel="nofollow noreferrer">12</a></sup></li> </ul> <p>Keep in mind that the number of calories you burn during a workout is based on other factors, too. For example, a bigger, taller person will always burn more calories.<sup><a target="_blank" href=",and%20metabolic%20rate%20of%20mammals." rel="nofollow noreferrer">13</a></sup></p> <p>Also, since there are several different types of yoga, you might burn more or less in a given class. Some lighter, restorative forms of yoga may burn fewer than 300 calories per hour, whereas a hot yoga session is likely to be higher.</p> <p>There's also an argument to be made here that whichever type of exercise you like more is the best choice. Yoga may burn more calories in one session, but if you'll show up to a pilates class more than yoga, it's probably the better choice for you and can help you yield better results long term.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <img style="max-width:100%;" class="img-fluid" src="" alt="mindful practice"> <h2 id="section4">Is yoga or pilates better for mental health?</h2> <p>Both can be beneficial, but since yoga places an emphasis on breathing and breath control, it's probably the superior form of movement for boosting mental health. </p> <p>Studies have shown that learning to control your breath can be a powerful tool for managing anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. <sup><a target="_blank" href="" rel="nofollow noreferrer">14</a>, <a target="_blank" href="" rel="nofollow noreferrer">15</a></sup></p> <p>Therefore, yoga can be a great tool for improving mental health.</p> <p>It is worth pointing out, though, that <i>all</i> forms of exercise are fantastic for boosting your mental health. <sup><a target="_blank" href=",self%2Desteem%20and%20cognitive%20function.&text=Exercise%20has%20also%20been%20found,self%2Desteem%20and%20social%20withdrawal." rel="nofollow noreferrer">16</a></sup></p> <p>Exercise boosts your body's endorphin levels, which boost your mood and reduce anxiety.<sup><a target="_blank" href=",receptor%20sites%20in%20the%20brain." rel="nofollow noreferrer">17</a></sup> (This is why endorphins are commonly referred to as "nature's painkiller.")<sup><a target="_blank" href="" rel="nofollow noreferrer">18</a></sup></p> <p>So while pilates may not do much in the way of breath control, the workout can still provide some mental health benefits.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section5"> <h2>Verdict: which is better yoga or pilates?</h2> <p>As far as the pilates vs. yoga debate goes, the better choice is the one that most closely aligns to your goals.</p> <p>For example, if your goal is to work on core strength and balance, pilates is probably the superior choice. But if you'd like to improve flexibility or total body strength, yoga is the way to go.</p> <p>However, a third option <i>does</i> exist—and that is to simply combine the two.</p> <p>Our bodyweight workouts at Warrior Made combine the best elements from <i>both</i> yoga <i>and</i> pilates (along with other fitness techniques that are backed by the most current science) to give you the best workout possible.</p> <p>In just one workout, you'll stretch, work on your core strength, and practice other functional resistance exercises like push-ups, lunges, and burpees. And <i>that</i> type of training, over time, will help you become a well-rounded, fitter version of yourself.</p> <p>If that sounds like a good fit for your goals, head over to our <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">exercise section</a> to try our latest workout!</p> </section> </article>

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