When you’re choosing between yoga or Pilates, think about your fitness goals. Yoga emphasizes breathing and connecting with the mind for increased flexibility and relaxation. Pilates focuses on core strength as well as flexibility. They both help with your alignment, balance, and strength. Neither workout burns a lot of calories or provides an intense cardio exercise. You’ll use a mat or machines for Pilates and a mat and some standing poses for yoga. Here’s what scientists say both activities can do for the body:
Body Strength and Flexibility
Yoga: A recent study showed that participants increased their total body flexibility by an average of 24 percent after eight weeks of doing yoga three times a week. When it came to demonstrating strength, they managed an average of six more push-ups and 14 more curl-ups.
Pilates: Pilates tends to be better than crunches for strengthening the abdominal muscles. As for tightening those hard-to-target obliques, Pilates proved as much as 310 percent more effective. Improvement should be seen in overall flexibility, particularly in the back, hip, and hamstrings.
Yoga: Power yoga gives the heart the same aerobic workout as a brisk stroll. Hatha yoga provides little cardio benefit.
Pilates: A beginner routine pumps your heart up only to the level of a slow walk for a mild aerobic challenge. An advanced class accelerates the heart rate up to that of speed walking.
Yoga: Experts recommend you add a high-intensity activity, like jogging, to your yoga workout if you’re trying to lose weight. Expect to burn about 550 calories during a 50-minute jog. That’s because a power yoga class burns only about 250 calories while a 50-minute hatha class will burn about 145 calories. One piece of good news, however, is that a study found people who practiced yoga regularly added fewer pounds during their midlife years than those who didn’t.
Pilates: Schedule a 45- to 60-minute advanced routine at least four days a week if you want to maintain or lose weight. A 50-minute beginner workout should burn about 175 calories while an advanced class can be expected to burn between 255 and 375 calories.
Yoga: Yoga can reduce the stress hormone cortisol even after only one session. It has been shown to ease arthritis, relieve back pain more effectively than traditional exercises and reduce the intensity and frequency of hot flashes by 30 percent.
Pilates: The back and abdominal strength you’ll build (along with increased flexibility) can help improve your posture and give you the appearance of a taller, leaner body.