Friday, May 11, 2007

Yoga vs. Pilates - What's The Deal?

Yoga and Pilates are two of the most popular mind-body modalities around. Everyone from professional athletes to Hollywood a-listers does one or both. People are often curious as to which is better. The truth is, one is not necessarily better than the other. It is dependent on individual physical needs, goals, and personalities.

Below are some key distinctions from a philosophy and physical perspective:


  • Pilates takes a mind-body approach to exercise with a focus on mental concentration, breathing, and movement whereas Yoga's view involves mind, body and spirit.
  • Joseph Pilates created the practice over 80 years ago based on personal experiences in yoga, martial arts, boxing, chinese acrobats, body building and his personal experiences in health and healing.
  • Yoga's principles come from Hindu ideals and its approach is decidedly Eastern in nature.


  • Pilates mainly works on the core muscles in your trunk (called the powerhouse), and building strength there above all. Pilates focuses on those muscles that lie closest to the bone (stabilizer muscles) which is why people claim to get that long lean look.
  • Yoga, for the most part, involves static poses, which are held while exploring your breathing, physical feelings and emotions.
  • Pilates emphasizes toning over flexibility (but, again, it enhances both).
  • Yoga emphasizes flexibility over building strength (although it enhances both).

Bottom Line
If you want an exercise that improves flexibility while toning your muscles - especially those abs - then Pilates is probably your better choice. Many people claim to love pilates because the movements kind of trick you into stretching because you are focused on other things like your core muscles and not necessarily the stretch.

If you are already getting your strength training somewhere else and want to concentrate a bit more on flexibility and a little less on toning, then yoga may be a better fit.

Regardless, both will reduce stress and enhance your body's health in a way that is unique from any other form of exercise. The best part is that they enhance each other if you can incorporate both! Check out more detailed info here.


Lynda Lippin said...

Great post! People ask me this all the time and your post is so coherent--I will quote this on my blog.

I have also added you to my Blogroll, and if you'd like to link back to me that would be fab.

Pilates & Reiki In Paradise Website
Pilates & Reiki In Paradise Blog

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