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Pilates vs Yoga

Pilates vs Yoga: Does it have to be either/or?

There are a lot of similarities between Yoga and Pilates but people tend to be fans of either one or the other, without necessarily knowing why. Personally, I LOVE both! The benefits are fabulous – they both improve our physical and mental health.

What is Yoga?

Yoga originates from India thousands of years ago. There are many different variations of Yoga but the central principles are relaxation, breathing, exercise and positive thinking/meditation. Think of it as a type of mind and body fitness where you flow through different poses and movements with a concentration on breath and energy.

Yoga has a positive effect on many mental health issues like anxiety and depression, and also on arthritis, high blood pressure and respiratory problems.

What is Pilates?

Pilates is a relative newbie, at only about 100 years old. It focuses on small movements, either on a mat or on special equipment, that use the important core muscles around our back and tummy. Breathing is used to control and energise the muscles.

Pilates can help with back pain and joint injury recovery and is also beneficial for people with arthritis, urinary incontinence and respiratory problems.

The similarities

Yoga and mat Pilates are both low-impact exercises that use our bodyweight to workout and doesn’t require much, if any, special equipment. Breathing deeply and controlled is important in both disciplines and because of the focus needed, they’re both great for stress-busting.

Which should I choose?

If you are looking to improve your overall physical and spiritual health, Yoga is perfect for the job. It focuses on flexibility around the whole body and the meditation element can help with relaxation.

If you have back problems and want to strengthen your core muscles, Pilates might be more suitable as it focuses on key areas. You might also see results quicker, but the exercise might be more intense.

Sometimes Pilates and Yoga get a bad press – being perceived as elitist or hippy or just for middle-aged women but I think that’s crazy, as they are both amazing ways to strengthen and tone your body while improving flexibility and relieving stress. So don’t feel you have to choose one or the other, they can complement each other and offer different ways to feel fit, healthy and mentally strong.

We don’t offer straight Yoga at Gemma Pearce Fitness, but we have some Fitness Yoga in our Mind Body online workouts. If you’d like to try out the range of classes online or our Pilates face-to-face classes, check out the options at

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