Yoga vs Pilates: Which Is More Beneficial For You?

Yoga and Pilates – both extremely beneficial, both great for the body and mind. However, you may be confused about which one is best for you, and if they really are all that different. Well, it all depends on what your goals are and what you hope to get out of your new exercise venture. To help you out, we’ve put together a simple guide. Read on to find out; Yoga vs Pilates: which is more beneficial for you? 

What Is Yoga?

yoga or pilates more beneficial

Yoga isn’t just about stretching into difficult poses, as a beginner might think. In fact, it is an ancient practice which aims to connect the mind, body and surroundings. Some people practice yoga as a form of meditation and relaxation, to quieten the mind and steady the breath. Some people practice yoga to become stronger and more flexible without the impact of more strenuous exercise methods. There are many different kinds of yoga, including “hot” yoga and restorative yoga.

Here are some of the benefits of yoga:

  • Promotes true relaxation
  • Increases flexibility
  • Strengthens the mind/body connection
  • Lengths the muscles
  • Tones the body
  • Stretches out sore and tired muscles
  • Great for stress management
  • Teaches correct breathing techniques
  • Improves posture
  • Strengthens the core

What Is Pilates?

Pilates is a far more recent exercise method. A man named Joseph Pilates created Pilates in the early 1900s as a way of strengthening the body by using a machine called “apparatus” (commonly known simply as “the Pilates machine”). Like yoga, Pilates works the entire body, especially the core muscles.

Dancers and people with injuries favour Pilates as it helps to stretch and strengthen the body without placing too much pressure on tender areas. Many (even most!) people choose Pilates because they want to tone and streamline their body.

However, like yoga, Pilates also places a lot of focus on the breath by inhaling and exhaling at specific times during the exercise to maximize the motion and reduce any negative tension in the body.

Here are some of the benefits of Pilates (note that some are identical to those in the yoga list!):

  • Boosts muscle tone and definition
  • Increases flexibility
  • Improves posture
  • Strengthens the core
  • Strengthens the back
  • Assists with weight management
  • Increases cardiovascular health
  • Strengthens and tones the back muscles
  • Tones the glutes

Yoga vs Pilates for Weight Loss

Weight loss is very dependent on diet and the “energy in/energy out” equation. You would be pretty lucky to be able to lose weight by doing yoga or Pilates alone, without additional exercise, a good appetite suppressant supplement and a healthy diet change.

However, both yoga and Pilates can really help to trim weight and achieve some awesome visible muscle tone. It depends on the intensity and duration of the workout, whether it’s yoga or Pilates.

If weight loss is your core goal, opt for Pilates first. Aside from burning calories, Pilates really gets the muscles firing and gaining in mass, which contributes to weight loss. Combine Pilates with cardiovascular exercise each week and you’ll be burning fat in no time.

The verdict: Choose a Pilates class or course with a focus on weight loss and burning calories.

Yoga vs Pilates For Toning

Dedicated “yoga bunnies” are known for their lithe bodies, and Pilates is associated with a defined and firm physique. While both are great for toning, many Pilates movements and courses are designed especially for toning and conditioning the body. If you want to achieve muscle tone as quickly as possible, combine Pilates with more strenuous exercise such as HIIT or weight training. If toning the core is the main goal, absolutely get into a weekly Pilates routine.

 The verdict: Find a Pilates course with a heavy focus on toning and strength.

Yoga Vs Pilates For Flexibility

If increased flexibility is the aim of the game, definitely try yoga. Pilates certainly does help with flexibility, but it’s not the main benefit. Pilates movements focus more on the movement itself and strengthening the muscles throughout. Whereas yoga moves are generally more “stretchy” (in layman’s terms!) and focus on the stretch itself.

Even the simplest of yoga poses challenge the body into stretching and reaching further. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you have to be flexible to do yoga in the first place. In fact, if you’re really inflexible, great!

Yoga is the perfect thing for you to set your sights on. Begin with a simple set of poses or a beginners’ class to get used to the movements and the stretch they offer. Be patient with yourself and just aim to improve, little by little.

The verdict: For flexibility, get yourself a yoga mat and get started.

Yoga vs Pilates For Back Pain

 The great thing about Pilates and yoga is that they both get deep into the core and help to build those muscles firm and strong. A strong core is very important for supporting the back and preventing further injury and pain.

Gentle stretching is also extremely beneficial and important for soothing back pain, which brings yoga to the lead. If your back pain is related to stress and tension, the relaxing mind-body connection of yoga could be highly beneficial.

The verdict: Do both! Try a mixture of yoga and Pilates to manage your back pain. Pilates will help to strengthen the core and back muscles. Yoga will help to stretch the back (and the entire body) to release built-up pressure and tension which could be contributing to your pain.


Yoga and Pilates both have wonderful benefits to offer. It all comes down to which works best for you. If you practice yoga or Pilates on a regular basis and up the intensity as much as you can, you will see results.

To really whittle down the decision, consider what your goals are. Do you want to lose weight and tone up? An intense Pilates class might just be the one for you. Are you seeking to increase flexibility and support back health? Give a yoga class a try. If you really can’t decide? Try both!