Yoga vs Pilates: which is best?
Partial to a bit of downward dog? Or perhaps you’d rather work up a bit more of a sweat and improve your strength? Whatever your opinion, it’s time to settle the score and decide once and for all – yoga or pilates: which is really better?
With dedicated Yogi’s swearing by the spiritual practice and fans of pilates championing the workout’s strengthening and toning benefits, it’s going to be a close call between the two. So, let’s get the lowdown on them both and find out the difference between these two popular practices.
What is yoga?
Originally founded in India around 5,000 years ago, yoga focuses on strength, flexibility and breathing, with the aim to boost physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing. The main components of yoga consist of a series of postures and movements – think downward dog, bridge pose and happy baby. Although yoga is known for being fairly low impact, this doesn’t mean it’s a complete walk in the park. Persistence is key with yoga and keen Yogi’s know that you’re often required to maintain certain poses for long periods of time, which can be particularly challenging if you’re not very flexible.
What is pilates?
With the main focus to evenly strengthen the body, pilates is a great full body workout and can be beneficial for everyone, from fitness beginners to elite athletes. Founded by German-born Joseph Pilates, this practice is influenced by western forms of exercise such as gymnastics, boxing and Greco-Roman wrestling. Special apparatus is used to support each individual’s resistance needs and it is renowned for it’s benefits to posture, core strength and a leaner appearance.
So, now we’ve cleared that up, let’s dig a little deeper and discuss the benefits of each exercise.
What are the benefits of yoga?
It can decrease stress
High-pressure job? Life a little hectic? Why not give yoga a whirl? Known to promote relaxation, yoga incorporates many popular stress-reliving techniques, such as controlled breathing, meditation and stretching.
It improves flexibility and balance
There’s a reason why many athletes and sports people practice yoga alongside their training. Yes, it’s hugely different from playing a high-energy sport or pumping iron in the gym but this contrast makes it all the more beneficial. Many weight lifters and sports people suffer with muscle stiffness and a lack of flexibility, which can be eradicated with yoga. It’s also a great way to incorporate stretching into your fitness routine – and we all know how important it is to stretch, right?!
It improves breathing
Breathing is something we pretty much take for granted but the practice of controlled breathing can improve heart and lung health, build endurance and optimise performance.
It strengthens the body
Yep, you don’t need to squat your own body weight to be strong! Regular practice of yoga has been proven to strengthen the body, as well as the mind.
What are the benefits of pilates?
It improves posture
Say no to the hunchback and throw some pilates into your routine to sort out your posture! Those of us who work in sedentary jobs are prone to poor posture, which can affect us greatly as we age. Pilates encourages you to elongate your body and spine and, over time, will lengthen your torso and straighten your posture.
It helps to develop core strength
Now, we all know how important it is to take care of our backs. Believe it or not, the core muscles of the body are the deep muscles of the back, abdomen and pelvic floor – they all help to support good posture and a strong back, which is essential for everyday movement. Pilates will strengthen these core muscles, ensuring the frame of the body is supported. This puts less pressure on other parts of the body, such as the neck and shoulders.
It tones the body and promotes a lean appearance
Ah, toning. A phrase thrown around by many but what does it actually mean to tone up? Well, get some regular pilates into your routine and you could find out! Known for creating long, strong muscles and a leaner look, pilates balances musculature, supports posture and generally improves muscle tone so if ‘toning up’ is the aim, pilates may well be your game.
It improves general fitness
Unlike most exercise, pilates is a full body workout and your whole body will be tested in ways you probably didn’t know! This makes it ideal for general, full body fitness and also means it’ll support your breathing and mindfulness, ensuring improved general fitness.
And the winner is…
So, back to the matter at hand – which is better between the two? To put it simply, it’s down to you and what you want to gain from your workout. Looking for a workout to calm the mind and ease tension? Yoga’s your go-to. Want something a little more strenuous with additional toning benefits? Then pilates is for you. And, remember, there’s no saying you can’t do both. Each have their own pros and cons and if you can reap the benefits of both, why not?
What are your thoughts? Are you team yogi or partial to pilates? Tag us in your photos over on Instagram – we’d love to see you getting involved. If it’s more yoga info you’re after, head over to our post with Emily Mou and find out why she recommends yoga to anyone and everyone! Or, if it’s more training and fitness advice you’re after, visit our blog.