Yoga or Pilates, which activity to choose?

There are many different types of Wellness or Fitness classes and it can be difficult to decide which one is right for you. Yoga and Pilates are two options to consider. Far from the traditional fitness classes, these two activities have a dimension of control and respect for the body. However, there are many misconceptions about these activities.
Here is an overview of the advantages and disadvantages to help you choose one or the other of these two disciplines... or not!

What is yoga?

The origins of yoga:

Yoga has its origins in the Indian culture. It means union of body and mind.
There are several types of yoga and therefore various ways to practice it. However, the most practiced in France are Hatha Yoga and Vinyasa Yoga which consist in holding a certain number of postures for more or less time and linking different postures in a more or less fluid way.

The yoga class in practice:

A yoga class usually consists of 3 main parts: 

  • Relaxation and breathing exercises: the first few minutes of the class are devoted to breathing exercises in order to clear the mind and prepare the mind to perform the postures in full consciousness. 
  • The sequence of postures: after a warm-up and some stretching, the heart of the session is composed of a series of postures performed standing, sitting or lying down, with progressive levels of difficulty. 
  • The return to calm/meditation: the session ends with a time of mental rest and physical relaxation. Lying down or sitting, this time of calm encourages muscular relaxation and calms the mind.

Contrary to popular belief, yoga is neither a "calm" discipline of pure meditation without muscular contraction, nor a "boring" discipline where one does not sweat.

The benefits of yoga:

In the long term, yoga classes will allow you, among other things, to: relieve chronic pain, especially of the back, improve your flexibility, improve your balance, improve coordination, strengthen all the muscles of your body and consolidate your bone mass. On the psychic level, it helps to reduce anxiety, promotes concentration and control of breathing, and helps to lower blood pressure. 

The disadvantages of yoga

Yoga has a few drawbacks that should be considered before you start practicing. First of all, yoga can be quite difficult and may not be suitable for beginners. Also, yoga can be time consuming, as it usually involves a series of long postures. Finally, some people find the spiritual and meditative aspects of yoga unappealing.

What is Pilates?

Where Pilates comes from:

Pilates is a training method created by Mr. Joseph Pilates in the 1920s. Studied and adapted for many years, this method had to wait until the 1980's to see its success appear in the first fitness structures.
The work is done in the form of varied muscular exercises putting at the heart of each session movements from the 15 fundamental movements of Pilates.

The Pilates class in practice:

A Pilates session allows you to work on the 6 basic principles of the method: centering, concentration, control, breathing, fluidity and precision.
All of this is built around several exercises taken from the 15 basic Pilates movements. Each movement is repeated about ten times. They are proposed with complexities according to the desired level and can be carried out with the help of specific material.
It will be necessary to persevere for a few classes to assimilate the principles and techniques before being able to apply them in an innate way.

The benefits of Pilates: 

Over the long term, Pilates classes will allow you to improve your posture and body balance because the work of strengthening the deep muscles is at the heart of the method.
It is also very effective for strengthening the back and limiting spinal pain. Sculpts the figure, improves concentration and awareness of the body and breathing.
Promotes range of motion and coordination.

The disadvantages of Pilates

Pilates is a great exercise regimen, but there are a few drawbacks to consider before you start. First of all, Pilates can be expensive. Studios typically charge by the class or package, and some equipment like reformers or tower can be expensive. Second, Pilates may not be for everyone. People with injuries or health problems should consult a doctor before starting a new exercise program. Third, it can be difficult to find a Pilates studio near your home or work. Finally, Pilates can be difficult and require a lot of self-discipline to stick with.

So what to choose - Yoga or Pilates?

You now have a number of elements that can guide you in your reflection.
Two rich and beneficial activities that you just have to try to adopt!

Yoga is a great choice if you are looking for a low-impact exercise that will improve your flexibility and strength. Pilates is for people who are looking for a more challenging and intense workout.
And if your heart is in the right place, don't worry, you don't have to choose. Regularly practicing these two disciplines will allow you to combine the many benefits of each, for the greater happiness of your body and your mind.

The Wellness expert for Oktofit :



As a personal trainer, I discovered Pilates during a course in Paris and decided to make it the basis of my coaching with my clients. I also trained in Yoga to become a certified instructor and offer a more complete range of exercises during my sessions.