When it comes to selecting the right type of exercise to meet personal fitness goals and plans, understanding the differences between two forms of exercise is essential. Yoga and Pilates often seem similar due to the focus on flexibility, but they are very different exercise disciplines. Before you decide between yoga and Pilates, take time to learn about how they differ from each other.


The Origins of the Exercise

Yoga and Pilates may look similar to an outside observer, but they have very different origins. By understanding the origins, it is easier to recognize some of the key differences in the disciplines.

Although there are many different forms of yoga, the original ideas and theories behind the practice started more than 5,000 years in the past. Yoga began in India and has evolved, changed and developed over the centuries. Modern yoga practices include many of the traditional poses and practices, but also provide new challenges and scientific proof regarding the benefits of practice.

Pilates has a much shorter history. In fact, it was originally developed in the 20th century by Joseph Pilates. Originally, Pilates was a type of exercise that was used for rehabilitation in a medical setting. The goal was to help improve physical movement after an accident or similar trauma by strengthening the muscles and improving overall flexibility.

Although it began as a rehabilitation tool, Pilates has gained popularity in the dance industry and has evolved and changed to focus on core muscles that are used in dance.


Focus of the Practice

The focus of the exercises and practice are another key component that sets yoga and Pilates apart. Since Pilates was developed for rehabilitation and medical purposes, the primary focus of the exercises and movements is the mind and body.

Pilates does not focus on spiritual growth or development. It does not factor in a spiritual element, so it may seem limiting to some individuals. While Pilates does not put any focus on spirituality, it does help if you want to improve your mental health and strength. It has a similar impact on the mind and body as yoga.

Unlike Pilates, yoga does factor in the spiritual component of your goals. If you want to experience a mind, body and spirit connection, then yoga may be a better tool to reach your goals.

Yoga has a long history of considering spiritual goals and hopes. The deep breathing, meditation and spiritual focus of the practice sets it apart from Pilates. It can have a positive impact on the body and mind due to the meditation.


Impact on Physical Health

The impact of yoga and Pilates on physical health can seem similar. Both practices have science to suggest that it can help improve weight loss goals, burn calories and improve flexibility.

In yoga, it is possible to select classes and styles based on specific goals. For example, Power Yoga can help improve physical strength, flexibility and endurance. It moves through poses at a fast pace and it focuses on strengthening the body. A simple beginner’s yoga class that uses hatha yoga may not provide the same benefit.

In the case of yoga, the class plays a vital role on its physical impact. Regardless of the class, yoga does burn calories, improve flexibility and strengthen the muscles.

Pilates has a stronger focus on the physical aspects, but it primarily focuses on muscle strengthening and flexibility. The exercises build muscle, which can help improve weight loss goals, but it is not necessarily through direct cardiovascular exercise. A beginner’s Pilates class will usually burn the same amount of calories as a gentle walk.

The key benefit in Pilates is the muscle growth. As the muscles become stronger, the body will burn more calories when it is at rest. The result is that the body will gradually lose weight.


The Inner Peace

The primary difference between yoga and Pilates is the impact on mental health. Yoga is known to help individuals develop a feeling of inner peace. Deep breathing and meditation are part of the class. By meditating and focusing on the breath, it is possible to reach a mental state of relaxation and peace.

Yoga helps you reach a state of peace in your life, even when you are facing troubling or difficult times. When you meditate, you are able to put your problems into perspective and reflect on new ideas to help you handle those issues. Over time, you gain a peaceful state of mind.

Pilates does not have the same impact because you do not meditate or use deep breathing techniques. You may not see the same reduction in stress over the long term.

When you are trying to decide between yoga and Pilates, it is important to consider your goals before making any choices. Yoga and Pilates are completely different types of exercise. If your goal is physical health or improving your body’s ability to function after an accident, then Pilates may be the better choice. If your goal is reaching for inner peace or reducing your stress levels, then you may benefit more from yoga.


What do you prefer, Pilates or yoga?