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Yoga vs. Pilates

Personal trainer Theresa Rowe explains how to get the most out of your workout.

young woman sitting in a yoga pose praying hands

Editor’s Note: Welcome to Day 9 of Guideposts’ 14-Day Fitness Challenge! We’re sharing stories that will inspire you to eat better and get in shape so you can feel your best. Today’s challenge is to find a fun activity that works for you! If you’re just joining us, check out our previous challenges here.

It was a thrill to be on CBN’s Skinny Wednesday television show last week! I told my story and led a mini-workout in 7 minutes flat. Watch it on my website: shapedbyfaith.com.

The host of the show, Kristi Watts, asked me a good question in-between stomach crunches. “What’s the difference between yoga and Pilates?”

I hear this question a lot. These days you can hardly drive down the street without seeing yoga studios and places that teach Pilates. Many gyms offer both. It’s confusing, too, because both yoga and Pilates are done on a mat and some of the exercises look exactly the same.

Simply put, the difference is that Pilates emphasizes physical change while yoga’s intent is spiritual development through postures and breathing.

Yoga is an ancient Indian practice that unites the mind, body and spirit through exercise, breath and meditation. Its goal is to keep your body supple through movement and stretching, which helps you live with balance and composure. 

The focus of Pilates is physical. It’s a conditioning program that improves deep core strength, muscle control, flexibility, coordination, and body tone, while producing long, lean muscles. It was created by Joseph Pilates to rehabilitate injured soldiers after World War I, and quickly became a hit with ballet dancers.

I am certified to teach both, but for me, Pilates is perfect. It tightens and strengthens my abdominal muscles, back and spine. The visible result is a flat belly. The invisible result is that your strong core connects your upper and lower body and lets your body work efficiently. 

Because of the time constraints on Skinny Wednesday, I didn’t get to answer Kristi Watt’s question very well. This is what I hope she reads here: Both yoga and Pilates are good for you. Both offer strength, stamina and slimming as well as flexibility, coordination, posture and stress relief. Which one do I recommend? Either—just do it!

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