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Yoga vs. Pilates: Which One Is Better for You?

Pilates and yoga often get lumped together as similar types of exercise. It's true that they're both usually done as a studio class with an instructor. Both are considered to be on the less intense end of the spectrum when it comes to cardio. But as anyone familiar with both practices can confirm, that's pretty much where the similarities end.

If you're considering incorporating one or both of these forms of exercise into your routine, it's important to fully understand the potential benefits of each as well as set realistic expectations about what each practice can do for you.

Pilates

In short, Pilates was developed by Joseph Pilates during World War I. He created an apparatus and regimen to make people of all abilities stronger so that they could conquer their physical quests in the outside world with greater vigor, strength, and control.

Yoga

Yoga, on the other hand, is a 5000-year-old Indian practice that incorporates breath, mindfulness, and movement to bring a practitioner's focus from the external to the internal.

Yoga vs. Pilates

That's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the differences between these two methods of exercise.

Here, fitness experts settle the score about whether Pilates or yoga is better for a variety of fitness goals.

If You Don't Work Out Often…

The Verdict: Pilates

Though yoga might seem like an easier bet for people who are newer to working out, experts actually recommend Pilates, the generally more athletic of the two practices. That's because "Pilates is so easily modified for people with injuries or newbies," explains Diana Newton of FitMix Pilates Studio. "The Pilates reformer offers support for a person's body weight to make exercises easier for someone just starting out," she says.

The apparatus is equipped with springs of different strengths that can get adjusted to the practitioners abilities. Plus, Pilates is all about building core strength, which is a must for anyone inexperienced with working out who wants to get started safely.

If You Want to Reduce Stress…

The Verdict: Yoga

"The greatest benefits of a yoga practice are definitely mental," says Julie Erickson of Endurance Pilates and Yoga. In fact, the actual poses that are performed during a class are actually just a small portion of yoga overall. "In yoga classes, we move the body through specific poses, which stretch some muscles, strengthen others and provide a physical exertion that prepares the body for meditation," she explains. The main goal of yoga is to tire out the body in order to get to a place where it's possible to work on your mental well-being.

That means the blissed-out feeling you have during Savasana is no accident—and it do work wonders for your stress levels.

If You Want to Shape Up…

The Verdict: Pilates

According to Erickson, it's crucial to understand the cause of excess weight before choosing between yoga and Pilates as a primary form of exercise. "If most of the reasons a person is overweight are mental, I would recommend yoga. If most of the reasons are physical—a lack of movement or need of better movement—I would recommend Pilates," she says. It's also important to note that cardio plays a major role in weight loss, as does nutrition, so while either practice can be a helpful supplement to a weight loss program, they work best in conjunction with a healthy eating lifestyle.

If You Want to Increase Flexibility…

The Verdict: Both

"If someone is primarily interested in increasing their flexibility, I would recommend yoga," says Peter Cirolia, who owns and developed the Ballet Muscle method of training. That's because yoga's main focus is stretching your muscles without holding any tension, he adds. "Yoga forces you to lengthen your muscles more while Pilates wants you to create some tension in your muscle fibers." So if you're trying to inch closer to touching your toes, it's probably best to get your Down Dog on.

If You Want to Build Strength…

The Verdict: Both

Once again, the answer isn't totally clear on this one, since both practices incorporate strength work in very different ways. "If someone is interested in increasing their strength, I would recommend a balance of yoga and Pilates, and alternating days would be optimal," says Cirolia. "Pilates uses more core strength to support exercises that tone all areas of the body and improves your posture, and yoga uses the legs and arms with more focus on elongating and stretching." In other words, the practices work hand in hand to take your strength to the next level.

 

Ready to learn more? Read our next blog post:

WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN YOGA AND PILATES?

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Peak Pilates® fit™ Reformer
Lori W. (Emmett, US)
What a difference!

I love this Reformer, it's smoother and quieter than my last one. I also have noticed that the springs are much better than the ones I would buy for my last Reformer. I'm so glad I was able to purchase this equipment

Amazing Reformer

This reformer is wonderful! The machine itself is not only stunning to look at, but also so incredibly well build and glides like a dream. Everything you need to get started is included. Delivered in box, but super easy to assemble. Would highly recommend this to anyone wanting to add reformer pilates to their workout routine.
Only negative thing was that delivery took a while and customer service did not have accurate delivery date information, but after delivery I can say it was worth the wait.

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Love my new Elina Elite Reformer

I just LOVE my new Elina Elite Reformer-it is the best!!! It works just beautifully, high-high quality. It was extremely easy to set-up when it arrived. Doing reformer Pilates in my home has been a game changer for me and I love it. Shipment took some time but was worth it. Working with everyone at Casa was also a fantastic experience. I also ordered the stability chair. Thanks so much!

MVE Reformer

Excellent quality, very smooth glide. The double loop straps are a real plus. I purchased without being able to see or test the model and there are a couple of features I’d like changed in next iteration; the foot bar mounts from the inside and doesn’t clear the platform making it unsafe to mount for certain exercises and the connectors for the straps & pulleys frequently come unscrewed. The jump board is a couple of inches too short for my body & doesn’t adjust. Long- short box handles can rub on certain exercises. White glove service was excellent. Great value for the price would definitely recommend.