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Yoga vs. Pilates: how do they differ?

Yoga and Pilates are often grouped into the same boat when it comes to types of training. To most, they seem to work on the same goals, have pretty similar outcomes and equipment needed to do them. But they do have some core differences which are essential to know when choosing which to commit to. To give you a fast track to the right type for you, we’ve brought together their differences, similarities and how they can match up to your goals. 

Let’s look at the differences: 

  • Yoga is rooted in ancient Indian tradition and has spiritual grounding at its core. This spiritual element will be incorporated into every class - using meditation, breath and movement to unite the body, mind and soul. 
  • Pilates is a new-age system, devised in the 20th century which focuses on the physical. Founded by Joseph Pilates, a genius anatomist, it very much focuses on movement that is beneficial to the posture and strengthening to the body. 
  • Yoga looks to work on the flexibility of your body and joints over time.
  • Pilates works on relaxing tense muscles and strengthening for overall body balance. 
  • Yoga uses breath to ease into poses, ease flow and relax the body into a calm state. 
  • Pilates uses the breath to provide energy to the muscles to work effectively. 
  • Yoga uses a simple range of equipment including, mats, blocks, bolsters and straps. 
  • Pilates can include more complex equipment, such as balls, light weights, Pilates rings and reformer boards. 

But what about their similarities? 

  • Both will work to improve your balance, core and bodyweight strength. 
  • Yoga and Pilates are both supportive ways to move - not high impact so great for those working with injuries or that require low-stress forms of exercise. 
  • You can do them both with just yourself and a mat. 
  • Both are great for stress relief. Sometimes putting yourself through a tough workout is not what you need when you’re having a tough time. 
  • You can choose from different forms of each. Granted, Yoga has a lot more variants but there are plenty of options when it comes to Pilates too. 

How do I know which is best for me? 

When it comes to choosing, it's just about really digging into your goals and what you value when it comes to movement. If you’re looking for a holistic style of movement, having a few more options available to you or something you can quite easily do at home go for yoga. However, if you’re looking for more of a ‘workout’ that has some cardio elements and a more strengthening approach opt for Pilates. Ultimately, movement is all about choosing styles that work with your body, schedule and goals. So why not give them both a go to see what works for you?

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