group of women taking a pilates class

It’s not uncommon for us to hear the question: What’s the difference between yoga and pilates? While they offer similar benefits and both can be used conjunctively to achieve your health & wellness goals… they are actually quite different.

Yoga focuses on building strength throughout the whole body while putting an emphasis on relaxation and balance. Static postures and sequences of poses can be combined into tens of thousands of routines, so no two classes ever have to be the same! Each posture is accompanied by a counter-posture that ensures every muscle in your body is worked out equally. One hour of yoga can burn anywhere from 200-600 calories, depending on the style and intensity. 

Ideal For:
•    Stretching and Increasing Flexibility 
•    Reducing Stress through Mediation and Breathing
•    Full-body workout
•    Improving Balance
•    Circulatory health 

Pilates was created in 1920 by Joseph Pilates as a form of physical rehabilitation and physical therapy recovery programs to prevent patients against future injuries. It focuses heavily on development of core strength; each movement engages the abdominal muscles for enhancement of posture and agility. Pilates also strengthens your arms, backs, thighs, and glutes. One hour of Pilates can burn 270-460 calories, depending on the intensity, and is a moderately to highly active class. Pilates can be done a few types of ways. First is on a regular mat and performing bodyweight movements with little to no equipment. Another form is called contemporary studio Pilates where it incorporates equipment. The main piece is called a Reformer which uses springs for resistance. A variety of exercises can be performed on the Reformer for a total body strengthening workout.

Ideal For:
•    Core strengthening
•    Spinal Alignment
•    Pelvic Floor strengthening
•    Develop overall strength by elongating muscles 
•    Weight Loss


Both Yoga and Pilates Are Ideal For:
•    Improving range of movement
•    Low Impact Exercise
•    Improving Cardiovascular and Muscular Health

The main differences between yoga and Pilates is really what you are trying to get out of it. If you want more flexibility, yoga might be the better option. If you are looking to strengthen your core and create body awareness, Pilates might be the answer. You cannot really go wrong with either option to help increase flexibility, strength, and overall wellness. Pair them together each week for a routine transformation and optimal results! 


Written by: Matthew Schreder, Health & Wellness Director at the Tri City YMCA.