This or That: Should You Be Perfecting Your Yoga Asanas or Getting Into the Pilates Groove?

The growing awareness of alternative fitness practices has contributed to the success of both Yoga and Pilates. But which one is better for you? Let’s find out.

By Adarsh Soni
23 Jan 2022

Both Yoga and Pilates are low-impact, low-intensity fitness routines that focus on the mind-body connection, are good for beginners, and most importantly, are both easy to incorporate into your lifestyle for the long run. Along with offering improved strength and flexibility, they can also help reduce several mental-health related issues like stress and anxiety. And while there might be a lot of similarities between these two practices, the two are very different at their core.


As one of the leading fitness practices today, Yoga is celebrated for its numerous benefits. But the disciple is more than just a shiny new trend. In fact, it’s so ancient, that it probably predates almost every single wellness routine out there—by 5000 years to be exact. Pilates, on the other hand, is merely a little over a century old at this point. Invented in 20th century Germany, this fitness technique is often clubbed with yoga for many reasons. But what really links them both is their focus on breath work.


And what’s the main point of difference, you may ask? Well, there’s an answer for that as well. Simply put, Yoga focuses on the spiritual side of fitness more than Pilates, and to be honest, more than any physical wellness routine out there. Yoga is a holistic discipline using mindful breathing, movement and meditation to unite mind, body and spirit. And one must also note that it successfully incorporates elements of philosophy, and spirituality with science, resulting in something that’s bigger than just a workout regimen—it is a way of life.


Pilates on the other hand is more about anatomy and the beauty of the human body. And there’s a reason for that. Joseph Pilates, hailed as the father of this popular fitness technique was a renowned anatomist and mechanical genius. So you see, he created something that’s more about developing strength and stability, rather than connecting with your spiritual side. It is a system that uses targeted exercises towards improving flexibility and posture with a particular focus on the core. Which is the main reason why it’s extremely popular among people that have a fast-paced lifestyle.


Let’s have a look at some of the main differences between these two fitness practices:


Yoga Pilates
1. An ancient disciple rooted in Ayurveda and eastern wellness techniques 1. A more modern style of fitness that finds its roots in the west
2. Uses the body to connect with the mind and the inner self. Think of it as a way of practicing meditation through movement. 2. Uses mindfulness to connect to the inner workings of the body. Focuses on developing strength and stability.
3. Equipment is not mandatory 3. Requires some form of equipment
4. Focuses on spirituality and philosophy along with physical fitness 4. Doesn’t factor in spiritually or the philosophical aspect of wellness
5. There are multiple forms of yoga: Iyengar, Ashtanga, Hatha to name a few 5. There are fewer variations of Pilates
6. Emphasises on finding balance and pushing your body to its maximum flexibility. Several poses are performed in the upright position. 6. Tends to be more focused on moves performed on the ground, with a strict emphasis on training the core.
7. Beneficial for people suffering from anxiety, depression and chronic pain 7. Beneficial for people suffering from arthritis, urinary incontinence and back pain
8. Yoga classes are more commonly available in India, which makes them less expensive 8. Classes tend to be more expensive


The Verdict

Yoga and Pilates are both excellent workout options for someone that is looking for something other than your average gym class. Both of them focus on improving the body and mind and are advisable for people of all ages. They are also great fitness alternatives for pregnant women and older individuals.


If you need to build flexibility and connect with a higher sense of self-belonging, then yoga is the right fitness routine for you. On the other hand, Pilates is better equipped to speed up the recovery process after you’ve experienced a physical injury. It might not be rooted in spirituality like Yoga, but it still focuses on healing while improving your mental health.


Ultimately, it all comes down to personal preference. Some studies suggest that people who are more logical tend to like Pilates while creative people prefer Yoga. No matter which option you choose, you can be sure that either of them will help you improve your physical strength while also practicing mindfulness.


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