Which workout is more effective – Pilates or Yoga?

Which workout is more effective – Pilates or Yoga?

30.05.2022 Off By manager_1

woman in gray tank top and gray leggings doing yoga

Sometimes it can be difficult to choose between two workouts. It’s different to be motivated to do a long run than to take up barre classes. Sometimes, however, the fitness classes are very similar and it can be difficult to decide between them. Example: Pilates vs Yoga.

Both yoga and Pilates require a lot of core strength and flexibility. They do however have some differences, and these distinctions might help you decide which workout to do. What are these differences? This expert-backed guide to yoga vs Pilates will help you choose the right practice for your needs and goals.

Pilates vs Yoga: What are the Basics?

It is important to understand the differences between yoga and Pilates before you can discuss the benefits. It’s not as easy as you might think.


Joseph Pilates, a German trainer, created Pilates in 1920s. Lori Shipp, who is certified to teach yoga and pilates, says that pilates “is a system using both mat work as well as special apparatus designed to increase physical strength, flexibility and posture as well mental awareness.” According to the Pilates Method Alliance (PMA), an association of professionals, there are two types of Pilates today: mat and reformer. Both involve focused breathing combined with low-impact exercises.

A Reformer Pilates class will typically be centred around a Reformer (obvious, right?). This is a machine that is flat, cushioned and moves with shoulder blocks to provide stability and comfort. This equipment is unique to Pilates. It is not used for yoga. Mat Pilates is a form of Pilates that can be used on the floor. It may also include a yoga block. You can also use dumbells, resistance bands and an inflatable ball to perform the moves.


Shipp states that yoga is a Hindu spiritual discipline. It includes breathing control, simple meditation and the adopting of specific body postures (‘asanas ‘). It is widely practiced for its health, flexibility, relaxation, and general well-being.

According to Malak Sharaf (a certified yoga instructor and pilates instructor), the deep religious and cultural roots of yoga are a major difference between the two practices. She says, “Pilates is about focusing on the mechanics and understanding the body. Yoga isn’t just about movement. It also involves breathing, calming your mind and finding balance.”

Sharaf explains that there are eight “limbs” of yoga. Only one is linked to the movement. Others focus on breathing, meditation, and moral discipline. There are many forms of yoga.

What do yoga and pilates have in common?

Shipp says that yoga and pilates both require a lot more attention to your body and concentration as you move through the movements. “Pilates has six principles that are concentration, control and centring, flow, breathing, and precision — and yoga also uses many of these principles.” These similarities make it easy to see why the two practices share some of the same (or at least similar) benefits.

Shipp says that both yoga and pilates can increase flexibility and strength. A 2010 study showed that people who did pilates twice per week for 12 weeks saw significant improvements in their hamstring flexibility. Studies have also shown that regular yoga practice can lead to increased flexibility. Both yoga and pilates focus on stretching. However, yoga emphasizes holding poses which allows for stretching and, in turn increases flexibility.

Core work is a key component of both workouts. It can strengthen your muscles and improve your posture. You might try a plank position, which targets your abs, chest and low back, in your pilates class on Monday or during your yoga flow on Friday. This pose targets your core and helps stabilize the lower back, Amy Jordan, founder and CEO of WundaBar Pilates previously explained to Shape.

Continue with the plank position example. This move not only channels your abdominal muscles but also strengthens your arms, shoulders and wrists. This is one of the many ways that yoga and Pilates can help strengthen your muscles.

What are the unique benefits of yoga and Pilates?

Experts say that both types of workouts can be used to relieve stress. However, yoga (vs Pilates), is better at focusing attention, stress reduction, and increasing concentration.

According to Sharaf, yoga is more focused on meditation and breathing than Pilates. Both of these elements have been shown to calm the mind and center it. According to Harvard Health Publishing, yoga can make you feel more relaxed. Yoga has also been shown to reduce anxiety and depression by increasing levels of a brain chemical called Gamma-aminobutyric Acid (GABA). Studies have shown that regular yoga practice can strengthen brain regions that are responsible for memory, attention, awareness and thought. This helps to prevent cognitive declines as we age.

Sharaf says that yoga, unlike pilates, involves chanting. This creates a vibration that is good for the body and mind. Research supports this: Studies show that repeated repetitions of the word or sound “om” stimulates your vagus nerve. This calms both mind and body.

Sharaf says that pilates (vs. yoga) is more protective of the body’s physical effects. This is partly because Pilates movements are smaller and less likely to cause injury. Sharaf says that some yoga poses can be quite dangerous and could prove to be too difficult for someone not prepared. It’s easy to feel compelled to try extreme poses if you’re surrounded by people doing them in yoga classes. In Pilates, this is less likely.

Shipp says that the tools in class allow for deeper work, strengthening and more. She explains that pilates can pinpoint muscles using the smallest props like the magic circle and provide an amazing strength training and stability workout.

Pilates vs Yoga: Which one is better?

Which workout should you choose? It’s up to your preference. Experts agree that both yoga and Pilates deserve a place on your exercise routine.

Shipp says, “I tell people that yoga is best for flexibility and stability and Pilates is best for strength and stability.” You can still experience increased strength and flexibility with yoga, but not necessarily as much.

Plus, neither one is better than the other. They are just different. Shipp says that both can be low-impact, low-intensity, inclusive, and accessible for all. They can be “cranked up to ten” and require extreme strength and skill, as well as aerobic fitness. Both can be just what you want them to be in order to achieve your personal wellness goals.

Shipp’s advice to those who have to choose between the two is: Do what you love. She says, “Choose one that makes you feel joy in the movement and the most fun.” “Life is too precious.”