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Pilates Vs. Yoga: Is There a Perfect Practice?

Pilates and Yoga: The Differences and Which is Right for You

Yoga. Pilates. Yoga. The popularity flip flop between these two forms of exercise is tough to keep up with. When it comes to Pilates vs. yoga there may be quite a few factors to take into consideration.

A longstanding tradition in India, yoga in the West is often looked at as a practice for cross-legged, om-chanting practice for zen minded folk who frequent ashrams. The prevalence of those unmistakably sleek, sculpted arms are a dead giveaway of yoga’s popularity. You can spot someone who practices regularly a mile away.

Then came Pilates. Originally deemed a souped up version of yoga, the workout took off with studios cropping up in yoga studios, gyms, and everywhere in between.

So now the question is: Pilates vs. yoga? Is one better for your body?

While Pilates may not be as popular as yoga, Pilates classes and individual sessions for exercise are still widely popular; and it is also used as a form of physical therapy for some individuals. While reformers (those strappy, table-like contraptions) were the thing at the height of the Pilates craze, some fans think the mat version of the exercise regimen deserves a closer look.

You remember mat Pilates? The class you took to see if you liked it before springing for the more expensive reformer classes? Some Pilates experts feel a mat practice can offer that same intense workout, with the on-the-fly-ness of a yoga practice. Only tools required are a mat and yourself.

So if we are going back to the mat, why not just practice yoga, then? While the two exercises may look similar upfront, there are unique benefits to each.

Pilates is a structured workout with slight variations between classes. While it works the entire body, core is the main focus. Yoga comes in all shapes and sizes, from gentle stretching and peace of mind to intense cardio, and works the larger muscle groups.

If you are looking for flexibility and overall strength in an easily personalized format, yoga is likely for you. If a more structured regimen and sick abs sound right up your alley, give Pilates a try. Even better news…the two work well together. Incorporate some of each into a tailor made practice, or switch out days for benefits of both.

To get started try this mat Pilates workout for any fitness level or check your gym for a reformer class. There are tons of great yoga DVDs out there. Check out this 30 minute classic yoga routine. For a more sweat inducing workout, I love Jillian Michael’s Yoga Meltdown DVD (which you can find at Target).

Do you do Pilates or practice yoga (or both) regularly? What’s your favorite thing about either? We’d love to hear from you!

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Image of yoga mat via Shutterstock

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