Yoga vs Pilates: Which One is Best for You?

Yoga is a very popular exercise form. It’s said to exercise the mind, body, and soul. People who practice Pilates likely don’t care for Yoga, however, the two fitness methods are often categorized together.

While they may have some similarities, they also have some very obvious differences that many people fail to recognize. Let’s take a look at both of them and see how they compare.

Yoga and Pilates Compared

Their Origins

Yoga dates back 5000 years ago and originated as an Indian practice. Throughout the years, it has evolved and branched into Bikram, Iyengar, Ashtanga, etc. Although following the same principles, they have different variations depending on its origins.

Pilates started in the mid-20th century and was founded by the late Joseph Pilates. It’s a form of exercise that increases strength and enhances rehabilitation. Dancers popularized the practice with a modified version that made them stronger for their training.

Distinction of the Mind, Body, and Spirit

Both Yoga and Pilates are fitness methods that exercise the mind and body. Yoga however involves the spirit, where-in through meditation you explore your spirituality.

Class Expectations

If only flexibility is considered, yoga wins. Yoga is comprised of several different poses that make up thousands of variations. However, this depends on what kind of yoga you practice as well as what the instructor teaches.

On the other hand, Pilates is more structured and strict so you’ll have a better idea of what you’ll be doing before you attend a class.


Both fitness methods allow you to gain strength and flexibility.

A standard yoga class will involve every muscle group for a whole body workout. Each pose you do is followed up by a counter posture that allows for balance. Core strength is an essential part of yoga, however it’s only a piece of the puzzle and you can expect to strengthen muscle groups you didn’t know you had.

Pilates is also a full body workout with symmetrical exercises, however it mainly focuses on spinal alignment and core strength. Some classes make use of machines and apparatus, but you may also do floor work on mats involving your body’s resistance.

Calories Burned and Weight Loss

A normal 50-minute Hatha yoga class will burn up to 145 calories. You can burn more calories through a power yoga session, where you can burn up to 250 calories.

For Pilates, a normal session will burn up to 175 calories. For a more advanced Pilates session, you can burn a whopping 375 calories.

Breathing Technique

Yoga and Pilates both use breathing techniques in practice. However, Yoga uses more intense breathing techniques compared to Pilates. For example, the Ashtanga or Vinyasa practices use the Ujayi breathing technique where in you relax and energize the body through breathing. Yoga’s various breathing techniques also involve matching them with your actions and posture.

Pilates will require you to focus on measured breathing. This results in increased lung capacity and endurance. However the breathing is standard in practice, in through your nose and out through your mouth, oxygenating your blood to prevent cramping.


Both fitness methods are sound ways of exercising and it’s easy to see why they are categorized together. However there are also glaring differences between them. Both exercise forms are mindful movement forms and will help to strengthen the body and cognitive function.


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Yoga vs Pilates: Which One is Best for You?