You’ve heard about yoga and Pilates for toning and building strength, but you aren’t quite sure which exercise to choose. They both have many of the same benefits but you may wish to choose one over the other. So, let’s take a closer look at both exercises in order to help you decide which is best according to your individual goals, restrictions, or injuries.
Low intensity toning exercise
The great thing about both yoga and Pilates is they fall under a “low intensity, steady state” category of exercise. This essentially means you can achieve the endurance side of workout while also reducing impact on your bones and joints which will prevent injury. This is one reason why athletes will incorporate yoga or Pilates as a part of their recovery because they can still actively stretch and strengthen, while finding a “recovery pace”. This does not mean yoga and Pilates are insufficient exercises on a weekly basis. In fact, a half-hour to full hour of either, performed three to four times a week is beneficial for muscular and heart health. Despite their lower impact and intensity, they are still aerobic exercises which will help use up carbs and fat for energy and increase blood flow.
Differences between Yoga and Pilates
To decide between yoga or Pilates for toning, let’s start with outlining some key differences. Yoga incorporates all body weight to build strength in the entire body at once, while in Pilates certain cues are provided to concentrate and contract specific muscle groups. Both methods contribute to overall toning of the body, however another key distinction is their use of props. While certain yoga poses may call for the use of a band, block, strap to make a pose more achievable or create a deeper stretch, the equipment in Pilates, such as Reformer, is intended to add resistance.
Let’s take a look at some specific benefits of Pilates:
- Improved posture
- Spinal stability
- Core strength
- Increased tone without bulk
- Increased strength in lower back muscles
- Muscle control
- Increased flexibility
Now let’s compare that with some unique benefits of Yoga, which incorporates more mindfulness of the breath as opposed to specific muscle engagement:
- Reduced stress
- Improved balance
- Better focus
- Heart health
- Increased feelings of happiness
- Body awareness
- Better sleep
So while the concentration of the mind may be more tuned in to the body during a Pilates workout, while in yoga it is more tuned into the breath, they both lead to increased body awareness, strength, and toning. If you are looking for an exercise that will increase your all-around health while also reducing the possibility of injury, either of these exercises would be great for you. You can talk to your physiotherapist who can help you decide the best routine according to your injuries and fitness goals.