Difference Between Yoga and Pilates: Is One Better than the Other?

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Spiritual Differences

One big difference between yoga and Pilates is their aspects of spirituality. Yoga moves are built around the philosophy of making the body at one with the mind and spirit. This ancient Indian practice involves meditation and is thought to enable to body to heal itself once the mind is at one with it and knows how to heal it.

Pilates, on the other hand, is based in mat workouts, and not meditation. Although it can also be stress-relieving, Pilates is not so much about relaxation as building strong core muscles and sculpting a lean figure. While yoga practices can certainly be done without meditating, exercisers who do not wish to meditate might find Pilates a more beneficial practice.

Difficulty Differences

Both yoga and Pilates have advanced moves that are difficult or even impossible to perform unless one has trained in the practice for a long time. However, some yoga moves are so advanced that only devoted yogis can perform them. Moves like the crow and the firefly, while certainly reachable by some, require amazing balancing abilities that stretch beyond simple relaxation exercises like the child’s pose, the warrior, the cobra or upward-facing dog.

Most Pilates moves are more attainable, however, and can be learned as people learn other things – with lots of practice. Pilates moves often have easier and more advanced modifications of the same exercise, so once a person has mastered the beginner level, they can more easily advance to the full version.

Health Differences

One main difference between yoga and Pilates is the idea of what they can rehabilitate or heal within the body. Yoga is thought to help those with breathing problems by assisting with the respiratory system. This makes sense, as controlled breathing is a big part of yoga.

Those struggling with digestion disorders or female hormonal problems might find comfort in yoga moves as well. While it might not heal a problem altogether, the idea is that yoga moves balance out any imbalances in those systems, which brings everything back into order again.

Pilates healing relates more to the skeletal and muscular systems. Pilates moves are supposed to help prevent injury and are fairly injury-free in and of themselves, making them an ideal match for physical therapy patients and exercisers with arthritis.

Pilates also has a breathing aspect in common with yoga. Even though exercisers do not use their minds and spirit to control their breathing, they do want to make sure they breathe with control and keep their cores tightened, which promotes good overall posture.

If you’re in doubt of whether you should perform Pilates and yoga moves, there’s nothing stopping you from trying both. Remember, you don’t have to take any of the meditation aspects to heart to still enjoy some benefits from each.


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