Pilates vs Yoga: Which is Right for You?

Pilates and yoga often get lumped into the same category – after all, they’re both mind-body practices that offer low-impact exercises performed on a mat. They’ve even been combined by some practitioners, with PiYo and Yogilates increasing in popularity.

There are, however, some major differences between yoga and Pilates that can make choosing between the two quite challenging. The good news is that we’ve compiled this ultimate guide to help you determine which practice you’re going to get the most benefit from.

The mat Pilates classes offered by 13th Beach Health Services are practitioner-run with a focus on providing participants with the support they need to reach their individual goals. We’re also able to provide a physiotherapy or osteopathy assessment prior to your first class to ensure that you’re provided with the support you really need.

What is Pilates?

Developed in Germany by a man named Joseph Pilates at the end of World War I and originally known as ‘contrology’, Pilates was primarily used to aid in the rehabilitation of wounded soldiers. It may increase muscle strength and endurance, improve flexibility and posture, lead to better balance, and result in decreased joint pain.

Pilates focuses on small movements that require the use of important stabilising muscles in the back and core. You’ll notice that each exercise tends to be started with a controlled breath; this causes the core muscles to contract and ensures a better workout. The practice is often used to target different body parts (such as the abs, pelvic floor, and so on).

What’s a Pilates Class Like?

Most Pilates classes are generally run by a practitioner who is also a fully qualified physiotherapist, which makes it easier to include as a part of rehabilitation or strengthening after an injury.

Classes tend to include only a small number of participants, ensuring that you get extra attention from the practitioner (which can be helpful in mastering proper form, as well as reaching your individual goals).

The intensity of the class will depend on the type of Pilates (mat is far less intense than reformer, for example) and on the practitioner, but you should expect a full-body workout.

What is Yoga?

While its exact origins are unknown, yoga is believed to have originated in India and has been around for at least 3,000 years. It’s a spiritual practice with roots in shamanism, Buddhism, and other Eastern religions, and is centred around the beliefs of proper relaxation, exercise, breathing, diet, and positive thinking and meditation.

Deep breathing and mindfulness are key features of the practice, combining physical activity with mindful focus in a bid to bring increased awareness to breath and energy. It is believed to enhance your spiritual, physical, and emotional health. You’ll hold various poses and flow through a different series of movements.

What’s a Yoga Class Like?

Yoga classes are run by an instructor and typically run for 60 to 75 minutes. They begin with a warmup of the muscle groups that will be focused on during the class, and you’ll work towards a challenging peak pose.

Most classes have props on offer (such as blocks or straps), which can help participants modify poses as needed. Some instructors will also weave themes or philosophies into their teachings.

Classes are notoriously much larger, with anywhere from a handful of participants to 20 or even more, and typically end with a ‘corpse pose’ where you can relax and meditate before returning to your day.

Pilates vs Yoga – What Are the Differences?

The main difference between the two practices is that yoga focuses more on flexibility and broad muscle groups, whilst Pilates focuses on muscle toning, body control, and core strength.

Yoga is typically not as fast-paced as Pilates, with classes placing more of an emphasis on mindfulness and deep breathing. You’ll be expected to hold poses and flow through multiple movements, unlike Pilates where each exercise is treated as distinct from each other.

Pilates vs Yoga – Which is Better?

While both practices offer great workouts, yoga tends to require substantial flexibility and joint mobility (specifically the spine, hips, and wrists). Although most poses can be modified, if you have limitations or pain you may find more advanced classes too challenging.

Pilates, on the other hand, is a great option for older adults and those recovering from injury, as the subtle movements and low-impact exercises are far easier on the body. Mat (or clinical) Pilates is also run by a qualified practitioner, which can provide some added support.

Choose 13th Beach Health Services for Rejuvenating Mat Pilates Classes

Whether you’ve decided that you want to pursue Pilates or yoga, we highly recommend consulting a professional physiotherapist or osteopath before commencing any exercise program to ensure that it’s the right choice for your needs. We would love to have you join our mat Pilates classes at 13th Beach Health Services, which are run by our practitioners with limited participants to ensure that everyone receives the support they need to reach their fitness and rehabilitation goals.