This is a long standing battle that seems to have no end. The pilates vs yoga fight for supremacy. For years there has not been a clear cut answer as to which of the two is superior to the other. Both camps; the yoga camp and the pilates camp, have strong supporters who stand by their choice and so there needs to be an objective position to settle this argument for once and for all. That’s where we come in. In this article we want to look at pilates vs yoga for weight loss and help you decide which one you should go for if weight loss is what you are looking for.
Pilates Vs Yoga: Similarities
Although there is an argument about which one is better than the other, there is no way you can ignore the similarities they both hold. In most cases, both of them are brought up together because they have more in common than people would like to admit. For instance, both of these exercises are low-impact exercises (1). What we mean by low-impact workouts is that they do not exert a lot of pressure on one’s joints when they are performed. This is true for both as they are usually done gently and precisely.
Another similarity that both these workouts hold is that they are both performed on a mat. The fact that they are both performed on a mat makes people who don’t really know much about them, confuse one for the other. Another similarity is that they both involve deep breathing or concentrated breathing. This makes them quite identical. They are also both done barefooted and have a set of moves and poses which overlap between them.
Read More: Does Pilates Help You Lose Weight?
Pilates Vs Yoga: Differences
Although they have a lot in common as seen above, they also differ in so many ways, which is why it is easy to differentiate between the two and actually choose sides.
Their first difference is their history. This is in terms of where they originated from and when they were invented. Yoga has been in existence for more than a thousand years. It originated in India (2). Pilates just came to existence during the post world war I era. It was developed by a German anatomist by the name Joseph Pilates and that is where it gets it’s name from (2).
Their second difference is in what they were invented for. They both have different purposes. Yoga for instance, was invented to help improve your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual being. It is able to achieve this through the different poses also known as asanas and the deep breathing that is involved (2). Yoga has different poses for different things and each of these poses comes with different benefits. In terms of pilates, they were mainly developed as a form of rehabilitative exercise for wounded soldiers. Due to their low impact nature, they could slowly ease their soldiers back to their normal selves by building strength, helping with their balance and improving their posture (2).
The third difference is how they are done. Yoga involves flowing through a series of yoga poses that use your bodyweight as resistance. The main focus of yoga is usually to connect the mind and the body, improve balance, and work on your flexibility since most of the yoga poses involve a lot of stretching (2). The different poses are usually associated with deep breathing and a present sense of mind. Pilates on the other hand, involves moving through slow, precise strength training exercises with breath control. While yoga focuses on balance, flexibility and body to mind connection, pilates focus on improving your stability and your core strength. Yoga is a bit slow and mindful while pilates are a bit faster (2).
Even though we’ve highlighted these differences between the two workouts, the biggest difference between the two is the spiritual emphasis that is in yoga but not in pilates.
Pilates Vs Yoga: Which One Is Better For Me?
When it comes to this question, there is no blanket answer that will suit everyone, as the answer depends on what you want to achieve (1). If your aim is to build core strength and stability, then pilates is the way to go. Pilates is actually recommended for people who play sports that require a strong core and back. Examples of such sports include golf and tennis.
If your goal is to relax, be at peace in your mind and with your body, and to be more flexible, then yoga is the way to go. To get the best of both worlds, you can try both workouts since they are both low-impact exercises and doing one won’t make you exhausted to the point you can’t attempt the other.
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Pilates Vs Yoga For Weight Loss
Losing weight by exercising follows the basic principle of burning more calories than you take in. That means that any exercise that is able to do this, will help with your weight loss journey. As mentioned before, both these workouts are low-impact exercises and what that means is that even if they can promote weight loss, don’t do them thinking you will lose a lot of weight from these two exercises as you would doing different cardio exercises like jump rope or even as many calories as strength training exercises burn (3). With that said, here are calories you are likely to burn doing pilates and yoga.
How Many Calories Does Yoga Burn?
Here is a close approximation of how many calories you are likely to burn if you do yoga:
- If you are 130 pounds, you will burn approximately 354 calories doing Bikram yoga for 60 minutes (3).
- If you are 130 pounds, you will burn approximately 413 calories doing power yoga for 60 minutes (3).
- If you are 130 pounds, you will burn approximately 148 calories doing Hatha yoga for 60 minutes (3).
How Many Calories Does Doing Pilates Burn?
Here is a close approximation of how many calories you are likely to burn if you do pilates:
- If you are 130 pounds, you will burn approximately 177 calories doing beginner pilates for 60 minutes (3).
- If you are 130 pounds, you will burn approximately 354 calories doing advanced pilates for 60 minutes (3).
That is the number of calories you are likely to lose from doing pilates and yoga. As you can see, yoga burns more calories than pilates. The amount of calories both these exercises burn is not that significant and that is why they should be accompanied by other weight loss activities.
Weight Loss Tips
Here are some weight loss changes you can add to your yoga life or pilates life.
Apart from working out, the most effective way of losing weight is checking your diet. Everybody has a daily calorie intake and when it comes to cutting calories, you need to reduce your daily calorie intake by a certain amount. For instance, if your daily calorie intake is 2000 calories, you can reduce your calorie intake by 500 calories everyday and by the end of one week you will have cut 3500 calories from your diet. 3500 calories are equivalent to 1 pound and just by cutting 500 calories everyday, you can lose 1 pound every week. You are able to lose this weight due to the fact that the body uses the stored fat as energy since it is not getting enough energy from your food intake. While cutting your calories, there are some things you need to make sure of. These things are:
- Never go below 1200 calories. As much as you want to lose weight, never cut your calories too much that you go beyond 1200 calories as this is defined as starvation and it might lead to various health conditions.
- Make sure your food intake provides you with all the required nutrients. When cutting calories don’t cut entire food groups thinking that certain food groups are the ones that are making you gain weight. This is something most people do and you will find people cutting carbs or fats from their diets. We need all these food groups for one thing or another. Carbs help to provide us with energy that helps us function normally. Virtual functions in your body need energy to take place. Proteins help with the repair and building of muscles and tissues. Fats help in the absorption of certain nutrients like vitamin D. We should make sure that we still provide our bodies with the nutrients we need even if we are cutting calories.
When it comes to weight loss, cardio is the way to go. Even though pilates and yoga do help with weight loss, what they do is nothing compared to cardio. The best part is since yoga and pilates are low-impact exercises, you can combine them with cardio exercises. You can start your training session by doing cardio and then you can do yoga or pilates while you rest from all the cardio you have done. This then means you will lose weight from cardio and also lose weight from these two low-impact exercises. In terms of cardio exercises there are so many to choose from. Some of the cardio exercises that burn the most calories include swimming, jumping rope, cycling, mountain climbing and so on. Most of these activities can be done for fun while at the same time helping you to lose weight.
Reducing Your Alcohol Intake
If you are a regular drinker, then this might just be the reason you keep gaining weight. If you want to lose weight, you need to cut down on the number of drinks you have and how regular you have them. Alcoholic beverages have what we call, empty calories. These are calories that have no benefit to your body. This means by taking a bottle of beer, there is no nutrient in that beer that is helpful to your body. If for example a bottle of beer has 20 calories, every time you drink alcohol you are adding this 20 calories to your body. These calories added to your normal calorie intake result in weight gain.
Apart from the empty calories, drinking alcohol also increases your appetite. That is why you always find yourself grabbing food to eat when you are drunk. The chances of you grabbing something healthy during this time are very low and you end up eating junk food that is not good for your weight loss journey.
Drinking Lots Of Water
Water is generally good for your body. Even when doing pilates and yoga it is advisable to drink a lot of water. Water also helps in weight loss in different ways. For instance, drinking water increases your metabolism and this leads to weight loss. You can also use water to control your appetite. If you drink water before you eat any meal, you will eat less compared to what you would have eaten had you not drank the water. This leads to you taking in less calories hence creating a calorie deficit and this results in weight loss.
Apart from cardio exercises, you can also add strength-training exercises to your workout program. As mentioned before, the best thing about these two low-impact exercises is that they can be complemented by any other workout. Strength-training exercises will help you build strength and muscles and also help you lose weight. Strength-training workouts do burn calories and this helps with weight loss. They don’t burn as many calories as cardio exercises do, but that is not all they do. They help build muscles and muscles just happen to have a high resting metabolism. What this means is that you are able to burn calories even while resting. To make your workout session more effective, you can start by doing strength-training exercises then you can add either yoga, pilates or both while you rest from the strength-training exercises.
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Adding Fibre To Your Diet
If you want to lose weight, you need to add foods that have fiber to your diet. A good example of such foods are fruits and vegetables. Fibre helps with weight loss in that it makes you full faster and for longer. This results in you not eating a lot of food since you get full faster and for longer. The calorie reduction caused by this leads to weight loss.
Another way to lose weight in addition to you doing yoga and pilates is to sleep enough. A person is recommended to sleep 7 to 8 hours everyday. Sleep helps with weight management as it helps a person prevent unhealthy eating habits like midnight snacking and this helps in your weight loss journey.
If you want to lose weight, you need to find ways to manage your stress. The good thing is that exercising helps with stress management and hence by doing pilates and yoga you are already on the right track. Yoga is known to help deal with stress using the various asanas and breathing techniques involved. Lack of a proper way of managing your stress will lead you to stress eating and this will hinder your efforts to shed a few pounds.
The Bottom Line
When it comes to pilates vs yoga for weight loss, you have seen that yoga burns more calories than pilates. However, the calories burnt by yoga are not that enough to lead to weight loss faster than pilates. It would be more beneficial for you to do both yoga and pilates for better weight loss results. Apart from helping with weight loss, these two low-impact exercises come with other benefits. For instance, yoga helps with stress management, helps increase your flexibility and balance, it helps you get in touch with your inner self and so on (2). Pilates on the other hand, helps with improving flexibility, helps strengthen your core and other muscles of your body, helps improve your posture, helps you ease yourself back to heavy exercises, helps improve your concentration, helps improve the stabilisation of your spine and so on (2).
This shows that when it comes to pilates vs yoga, there is no clear winner and it all depends on your goals. If your goals are more spiritual and emotional then yoga is the place to go. If your goals are more physical, pilates are the way to go.
The best thing about these two low-impact exercises is the fact that they can be done by almost everyone since they do not exert excess stress on your joints or bones.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Fitness Face-Off: Pilates Vs. Yoga Edition (2019, womenshealthmag.com)
- Pilates and yoga – health benefits (2013, betterhealth.vic.gov.au)
- Yoga vs. Pilates: Which Is Better for Weight Loss? (2019, livestrong.com)