Pilates Vs Yoga 0

Posted on 5, September 2015

in Category Uncategorized

Pilates vs Yoga

As a Pilates teacher I sometimes get asked should I do Yoga or Pilates? There are a number of reasons for choosing one over the other and it also depends what results you are looking for. With a good friend and colleague, Lisa Cuerdon who teaches Yoga we have come up with a few differences which may help you decide what suits your needs at that time.

Breathing – the breathing technique used in both exercises are very different.

1. With Yoga it is used to aid relaxation, give your mind a focus to stop you thinking – taking you away from the business of everyday life, this creates mind space which aids in relieving stress. Focusing on the breath also helps you to release certain areas that might be tight or holding stress by focusing your breath to release that area.

2. With Pilates, breathing is used more a as a technique for providing the muscles’ with energy they need to exercise effectively. By concentrating on breathing throughout the Pilates exercises will help you to manage the quantity of oxygen going to and coming from the muscles to help them relax.

Firmer abdominal muscles – both exercises have poses that are specific to toning and firming the abdominal muscles.

1. With Yoga, it is important to focus on the core area in every posture, when these muscles are working more efficiently not only will your posture be stronger and more stable but the body will open and release up further especially around the hips and lower back. In yoga the core muscles are often referred to as Mula Bandha (pelvic floor area) and Uddiyana Bandha (the naval area), they are also used to control the energy from the breath.

2. With Pilates, there are many specific poses used to increase the endurance and strength of the abdominals which are more targeted than Yoga and so results may show quicker.

Please note that you cannot spot reduce – this means you cannot do 100 crunches and hope to lose your wobbly belly, a healthy balanced diet combined with a variety of strength training and cardiovascular exercise  will be the main factors in weight loss.

 Back pain relief – Both exercises can help to reduce and alleviate back pain

1. With Yoga, certain postures will focus on relieving back pain, depending on the reasons for the back pain will depend on the best postures suitable for each individual but spending time on releasing off hips, hamstrings and lower back as well as doing spine strengthening postures will definitely help.

2. With Pilates, there are a variety of tests that you can do to check for muscle imbalance (a little bit like a physiotherapist would do) and then depending on the results working through each specific pose to help teach certain muscles to switch on and others to switch off if they are over dominant. Pilates is great in the re-education of muscles that may not be working in the correct order. This has great results combined with a physiotherapist to reduce and alleviate back pain.


1. With Yoga, there is a greater focus on flexibility of muscles and joints.

2. With Pilates, there is focus on trying to release and relax tight/tense muscles within a movement (as to not make them dominant) and to increase strength of the many muscles of the body.

Weight Loss – there is not much difference in whether Yoga or Pilates would be more beneficial to you from a weight loss perspective, however I would say that,

1. With Yoga, there are many types of more physically demanding yoga such as Hot Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga, Power yoga which will make you expend more calories during the session.

2. With Pilates, again a plain mat class may not make you burn that many calories as to going running or doing a Body Pump class, but there are cardio pilates classes you could try and also the variety of different Pilates machines that could make you expend more calories in one hour than a traditional mat class.

Try both!

So there you have it, my ideas on breaking down the difference between Yoga and Pilates. Unfortunately, it’s not black and white. There is no one is better than the other, more a case of what suits you and what you are looking for from a class. My advice is to try a few classes of each before making a decision.  The instructor can also make a difference to your enjoyment of the class so best to find someone that inspires you and will make you get the most out of your class.