Yoga VS Pilates, which is better?

Comparison Review

Man and woman doing yoga stretch in a gym
Gary Burchell

It seems that these days you can hardly turn on a television without hearing someone mention Pilates or Yoga. Articles on both of these movement therapies fill numerous magazines and it seems “everyone who is anyone” is doing one or the other. Why all the excitement? What is so special about these techniques?

Similarities and Differences between Pilates and Yoga

Yoga, as we all know it, is aimed to unite the mind, body, and spirit.

Yogis view that the mind and the body are one, and that if it is given the right tools and taken to the right environment, it can find harmony and heal itself. Yoga therefore is considered therapeutic. It helps you become more aware of your body's posture, alignment and patterns of movement. It makes the body more flexible and helps you relax even in the midst of a stress stricken environment. This is one of the foremost reasons why people want to start practicing yoga - to feel more fit, to be more energetic, be happier and peaceful. Yoga movements are performed, mostly, in a group setting on a special yoga mat with an aid of a yoga instructor. The body's own weight is used for resistance and a great deal of focus is accorded to the flow from one posture into the other. There are many different yoga styles and they differ in their emphasis. No one style is better than the other. The Style you use is a matter of personal preference or a matter of need.

Yoga Styles and Poses

Vinyasa Yoga, for example, makes use of modified yoga poses that are designed to meet the specific needs of an individual and to enhance healing, flexibility and strength of joints. The poses also intend to promote the feeling of well-being and strength. Practices may also include meditation, reflection, study and other classic elements, but the emphasis of this branch of Yoga practice is on coordinating breath and movement.

As you can imagine, given the scope of practice, the inherent therapeutic applications and the heritage of the lineage, the training requirements for teacher certification are extensive.

Pilates seek to reach much the same goals, also via a series of controlled movements. The major difference is that the Pilates technique not only has a full complement of matwork, but it incorporates work on the Pilates machines. The emphasis of the exercises is to strengthen the abdominals, improve posture, stabilize and lengthen the spine, improve balance and overall strength. Pilates gives you a longer, leaner, dancer-like line.

Pilates Works the Whole Body

Unlike many other training programs, Pilates works the whole body, emphasizing control, precision and concentration in both the mind and the body. Movements are not performed rapidly or repeated excessively instead, the focus is on quality not quantity. The abdominal muscles, lower back and buttocks ("powerhouse") serve as the center of all movement, allowing the rest of the body to move freely. This focus on core stabilization makes one stronger from the inside out and is critical for the advancement of the client. The low impact nature of Pilates makes it ideal for injury prevention and rehabilitation.

Its six principles-concentration, control, centering, breathing, flow and precision-train the body to move efficiently with minimal impact on the body. The balance between strength and flexibility creates a healthy, vigorous and symmetrical workout for all muscle groups resulting in a leaner, more balanced, and stronger body.

Working With Yoga and Pilates in Conjunction

If after reading about both techniques you are still left with a question of which of these two fitness techniques is right for you then here is the answer: Do them both in conjunction! The nature of the techniques makes it easy for them to complement each other. Get the stretch from Yoga and keep it from Pilates. Strengthen your abdominals on the reformer and watch your poses improve. Join the breathing techniques of Pilates and meditative aspect of Yoga into your daily routine and see the stress of your everyday life, begin to dissipate.

Both techniques are time-proven, established, and with the help of an experienced instructor, you will surely reach the goals you set up for yourself!

Pilates for a New Bride - Fitting into Your Dream Wedding Gown

Let’s face it – unless you have an amazing wedding planner, making arrangements for this most special of days can be both a daunting and exhausting task. Between looking for the perfect reception site, perfect dress, perfect everything else, those who are used to working out soon find that there just isn’t enough time in the day to exercise. New brides often find it challenging to balance the wedding planning with finding the time to take care of their bodies. After all, this is THE most important day of your life and all the eyes are going to be on you. With progressively escalating pressure to put all the pieces together in arranging a dream wedding, a bride can easily lose sight of an important detail: her personal sense of health and well-being.

With just a sliver of time to devote to getting into shape, what is our busy bride to do? Pilates may well be the key that opens the door to your inner happiness and outer beauty. Pilates is so “hot” right now that you can’t shop for groceries or watch Sex in the City without someone mentioning how wonderful it is. This technique traces its roots to the 1930’s when it was first recognized by Broadway stars and ballet dancers for its ability to slim the thighs, flatten the tummy, increase muscle tone and improve posture. With over 500 exercises to choose from and innumerable modifications, a certified Pilates instructor can design and tailor a program to fit your specific needs and goals.

Pilates will help you get that longer leaner line, the “two-piece bikini” stomach, the flexibility of Yoga, the stretch of massage and most importantly a sense of inner peace.

Because of its soaring popularity, your Pilates choices have expanded greatly over the past few years. Your options range in price and effectiveness from doing a Pilates exercise tape at home, to taking a group mat class with your bridesmaids, to getting a private class on the Pilates Reformer, Cadillac and other pieces of equipment.

Choosing the right Pilates studio isn’t always as easy as picking up the Yellow Pages. The following are some general questions you can use to assess whether the Pilates instructor with whom you are considering investing your valuable time is properly trained and qualified to teach you:

What Bridal Packages does the studio offer?

  • Are the instructors trained through a comprehensive, nationally recognized training program?
  • Did that training program require both a written and a practical test, lecture, observation, practice and apprenticeship hours?
  • How many total hours were spent in the training program?
  • How long have the instructors been teaching Pilates?
  • What is the studio’s philosophy?
  • Are the instructors able to design a program tailored to your specific needs?
  • Are they able to accommodate your hectic schedule?
  • Are the instructors able to teach the full repertoire of Pilates on all the pieces of apparatus or do they just teach Pilates mat or Pilates ball?

Pilates should be challenging but fun and spiritually invigorating.

Pilates should give you the body you want and the inner sense of well-being you’ve been missing since you first started making wedding arrangements. If nothing else, Pilates will give you a chance to leave the world of preparations behind and bring back the kid-like excitement of seeing just what you and your body are capable of accomplishing.

Deborah Harris is a former ballet dancer who is now trained as a professional Pilates instructor. She has helped introduce Pilates to clients with varying healing concerns, such as dance injuries, scoliosis, multiple sclerosis, hip surgery rehabilitation, chronic pain syndromes, fibromyalgia, and low back pain. Deborah is also the owner of Premier Pilates & Yoga Studio in Warren, NJ.