Yoga vs. Pilates: Which One Is Right For You?

yoga versus pilates

Yoga vs. Pilates: Which One Is Right For You?

yoga versus pilatesYoga vs. Pilates: Which One Is Right For You?

Yoga vs. Pilates, which one is right for you?  Yoga and Pilates are two of the most popular low-impact exercise disciplines that people use to stay in shape. Both are available at gyms or done at home. Many people are unsure about the differences between the two and which one will be better for them. This article will explain some differences between Yoga and Pilates and some of their benefits towards improving your fitness goals.

What Is The Origin of; Yoga? Pilates?

Yoga was originated over five thousand years in India as a means to connect the individual to the universe through a series of movements and poses. Over the years, there have been different methods developed to achieve this connection, some of the more popular types of Yoga includes; Bikram, Ashtanga, Hatha, and Vinyasa. On the other hand, Pilates was created by Joseph Pilates as a form of physical rehabilitation, and derived from the Greek word for ‘Control’.  Pilates can be described as the an art or method to control movements within the body, by aligning our breathing, coordination, strength and balance with the entire body.

What Machines Are Required For Yoga Versus Pilates?

For both Yoga and Pilates, there is little equipment needed to participate.  For yoga the main piece of equipment is a mat, and many gyms provide them to their clients. Many people associate Pilates with workout Pilates machines, the most famous being the Stott Pilates Reformer, but the majority of Pilates performed is with a mat and no other equipment.

What Are The Benefits of Yoga? Pilates?

There are physical and psychological benefits to both Yoga and Pilates. Yoga primary goals include improving flexibility throughout the body and developing strength to support your own body weight across broad muscle groups. There is very little cardiovascular work done when performing yoga. The primary goal for Pilates is to strengthen and tone the core and abdominal muscles as the foundation, by focusing on controlled movements around the core.  Incorporating other muscles groups and flexibility occur, but these are not the primary focus. Similar to yoga, Pilates will be of little value for cardiovascular training.

Yoga Versus Pilates For Weight Loss?

Regarding weight loss, there is little scientific research on Yoga and Pilates. However, there have been studies that have shown that Yoga can assist with weight loss in obese participants1. There have been some studies that have tried to show Pilates as a method for weight loss2, none of them have shown any benefits.  Neither burns a significant amount of calories so for weight loss, so for your weight loss goals focus on higher intensity workouts such as running, skipping, rope, aerobics, or exercise circuits.

Should I Try Yoga or Pilates?

Both Yoga and Pilates can be beneficial to its participants. If the primary goal is to develop better core strength and improve posture, then Pilates might be for you. However, if you want to develop greater flexibility, enhanced psychological awareness, then yoga should be the right exercise for you. Many people do both yoga and Pilates, to get both of their benefits, and people should be encouraged to try both and see which they prefer. As long as you are active and having fun, both are excellent forms of exercise with many benefits to be derived from.  Contact us if you have any questions or would like to book an appointment for Physiotherapy.


  1. Rioux, J., Thomson, C., Howerter, A. “A Pilot Feasibility Study of Whole-Systems Ayurvedic Medicine and Yoga Therapy for Weight Loss.” Global Advances in Health and Medicine. 3(1): 28–35.
  2. Sekendiz, Betül et al. “Effects of Pilates Exercise on Trunk Strength, Endurance and Flexibility in Sedentary Adult Females.” Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 2011. 11(4): 318 – 326

So which one is right for you?  Please comment and share your thoughts with us.  Click the link to learn more about our one on one Toronto Physiotherapy services or call our friendly staff today at 416-900-6653

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