Pilates vs. yoga: find the differences

Generally, Pilates is used to strengthen deep muscles and as a rehabilitation discipline following injury. Yoga focuses on improving flexibility.

This is the theory. In practice, the benefits that both disciplines bring overlap and intertwine. For example, practicing yoga consistently helps strengthen our body’s trunk muscles while Pilates helps increase the flexibility of the hock tendon.

In light of the facts then, which one to prefer and why? Let’s find out together.

For flexibility

Studies and research have shown that both yoga and Pilates can increase flexibility, as reported in a publication in the Muscles Ligamets Tendos Journal.

Some students in a Pilates class were asked to touch their toes with their fingertips, testing their ability to perform the stretching movement. In six months of classes all students showed improvement in range of motion.

On the other hand, yoga also brings benefits in this regard. A 2016 study conducted by theInternational Jourunal of Yoga looked at young athletes in their early teens. Divided into two groups, the first took part in classes 2 times a week for 10 weeks, the second never participated in any classes. The improvement in overall mobility was evident in the group that followed the classes.

For the strength

If the goal is to work on strength, Pilates would be the obvious choice. This discipline was created precisely for the purpose of strengthening the core muscles, working on the abdominal wall and going on to engage and activate other muscle districts accordingly.

Unlike Pilates, the strength you can go to work on and thus develop and increase with yoga depends on the type of practice you decide to follow. If your goal is increased strength, prefer Ashtanga or Hatha yoga classes over Yin yoga, which is better suited for relaxation and meditation.

For mental health

You will not be surprised to read that the benefit of yoga practice goes beyond the health of the physique. Yoga is also a valuable ally for managing anxiety and stress. Yoga and meditation also have positive effects on sleep quality.

As for the role of Pilates, at present there are still no studies showing the actual benefit of the discipline on mental health.

For rehabilitation

Everyone, more or less, knows what it means to have back pain and what this can entail. As such, Pilates can be employed and exploited as a treatment for those with chronic back pain, going to relieve and mitigate the level of pain. The more you can give continuity to your work, the more benefits you will see in the long run. Consistency and commitment will pay off.

Yoga can also come to the rescue in cases of back pain but going about it with a different approach. Certain postures combined with meditation can reduce the pain and go to work on flexibility and mobility that may be among the causes of the origin of chronic pain.

So if Pilates helps to prevent the onset of pain and combat it with strengthening exercises, yoga goes to work more on the mental attitude toward the hurt, helping to overcome the moment of difficulty from a different perspective.

For weight loss

If until recently weight loss was mainly associated with the introduction and/or increase of aerobic activity today we should have taken a step forward and gone beyond that. Activities such as pilates and yoga can also lead to benefits in achieving this goal.

Reducing the circumference of the waist, chest and arms are closely related to increasing exercises focused on building strength on which a Pilates class for example is based.

Yoga, on the other hand, again takes a different approach, going to work on building healthy habits that would consequently lead spontaneously to losing unwanted pounds.


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