Pilates vs Yoga – Which Is Best?

It’s a questions about Pilates vs Yoga all the time. Which is best?

Your workout time is limited. You can’t do it all. So, would Pilates or yoga be the best choice for you?

We don’t want to say, “That depends,” but that’s where we have to begin.

Ask any good fitness coach to point you towards the workout that will benefit you most, and you’ll first get walked through two critical considerations:

  • What is your current level of fitness?
  • What are your fitness goals?

With those factors in mind, let’s talk about Pilates vs yoga and see if we can identify which might best suit your body, and your goals.

HITT Pilates vs Yoga?
Pilates helps build core strength.

Pilates vs Yoga – Let’s Compare the Basics

Is Pilates a form of  yoga?

It would be easy for the casual observer to come to that conclusion. Both put much emphasis on the breath, on flexibility, and on alignment. Both proceed through a series of moves that seamlessly flow from one exercise to another. And both are aimed at helping you achieve better health.

Certainly, the originator of Pilates studied classical forms of exercise like yoga and tai-chi. Joseph Pilates was undoubtedly influenced by yoga — yet Pilates is not yoga. One big difference is that Pilates can not only be performed as a set of mat exercises, but can also utilize machines. Another is that PIlates first gained popularity within the dance community. It is especially helpful for posture, balance, range of motion, and overall strength.

One might even say that yoga is designed to reach out, then it reaches in. Pilates reverses that idea, to bring what’s inside back out to meet the world.

Here are the key principles of Pilates:

  • Concentration: It’s better to move slowly and correctly than to move quickly and incorrectly. Pilates helps focus mind/body awareness.
  • Centering: Pilates begins with the core. Everything revolves around the center of your body.
  • Control: Concentration in movement. Pilates asks you to be mindful in every action.
  • Breathing: Learning to breathe correctly helps your muscles stay activated. It also helps with focus.
  • Precision: As you practice, you become more exact. You become able to teach others the movements.
  • Flow: Pilates began with dancers, so the movements can feel as graceful as a waltz.

As you can see, every point there could be construed as a principle of yoga as well. Philosophically, then, Pilates and yoga are much the same. Depending on the instructor and the type of yoga or Pilates you pursue, they can look and feel much the same.

Pilates vs Yoga at FIT Academy - Stretch and Grow
Yoga stretches build flexibility.

How can I decide whether to take Pilates vs yoga classes?

Begin by answering the two primary questions listed above: how fit are you now, and what do you hope to accomplish?

Some forms of yoga require extreme flexibility. If you’re not all that flexible, then that particular yoga discipline wouldn’t be the place to begin. On the other hand, there are yoga classes for beginners, and there are yoga classes that meet you where you are regarding range of motion.

Pilates classes tend to be more accessible. You’ll find a range of fitness levels in the typical Pilates class. It’s a very welcoming atmosphere (as are many yoga classes). Overall, beginners tend to find Pilates easier to learn. Most can gain a feeling of confidence in a Pilates class sooner than in a yoga class.

But what about your goals?

If you are seeking more of an inner meditative experience, there are forms of yoga to help you with that.  If you want a strenuous workout, both yoga and Pilates can provide that for you — look for core, strength, and HITT components in each.

Pilates vs Yoga – The Bottom Line

Your best bet is always to first take an honest assessment of your current abilities and goals, then to identify several classes you think might work for you. Talk to staff. Talk to the instructors. Talk to current students.

The most valuable thing you can do, though, is visit the classes. You can begin by observing, if you wish — most instructors will be fine with that. Then choose the class or classes that best fit you and your time schedule.

One thing for sure, whether you choose Pilates or yoga … you can’t go wrong. Both can become an integral part of your fitness lifestyle.