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Yoga vs. Pilates: What You Need to Know

“Pilates, isn’t that just basically yoga?”, said everyone who has ever taken a Pilates class for the first time, including me. While both classes does wonders for the body with slow, controlled routines, they aren’t identical. So, which one is right for you?

Both classes enforce a mind-body connection, but not in the same exact way. Yoga is good for improving flexibility and promoting relaxation, while Pilates aims to strengthen the core with soft music and smooth transitions between exercises.
Madonna thanks yoga for her sick body, and Reese Witherspoon attributes hers to Pilates…A.K.A. both classes will give you unprecedented results. The hard part is trying to figure out which results you want, and how you want to get them. Follow these guidelines to decide which is for you: Pilates, yoga, or both!

Broke up with your boyfriend, failed a test, and feeling a bit homesick? Yoga is your answer. One of the ideas behind yoga is that participants will be able to forget about the outside world and focus on nothing but themselves and their mat. Chances are, you’ll leave feeling completely connected and relieved of the crap you’ve been putting up with lately.

Did one too many keg stands on Friday and went to Toad’s open bar on Saturday? Head to a Pilates class. These moves revolve around your core, engaging it in every single exercise, so you can consider alcohol-induced bloating a memory of the past (drink, go to Pilate’s, repeat). Despite the class’s slow tempo, Pilates will work your “powerhouse” (abs, lower back, and butt) and renew your body after a rough weekend.

Jealous of the girls in Kickline who can jump and land in a split? I can’t promise that you’ll be able to do that right after you leave a yoga class, but you’ll be well on your way. During class you’ll be able to work on flexibility and move your body in ways that you didn’t even know it could move. Warming up your body with choreographed stretching is a great way to loosen up your joints and relax your muscles – the seamless formula for a Kickline-esque split (well… eventually).

Need to tighten up before a big event? Going to several Pilates classes during the week will lift and sculpt you in all the right ways. It will challenge you just enough so that you feel the burn, but you don’t leave dripping in sweat. You won’t have to overexert yourself in order to quickly tone up and get photo-ready before an important night.

Feel like you’re losing yourself in this whole ‘college’ thing? Yoga is meant to help your mind, body, and spirit become one. Many people start doing yoga at a time in their life when they’re craving an inner peace and a place to “find themselves”. Tons of yoga enthusiasts didn’t take it on until they needed a starting point for some soul searching. When done the right way, yoga could be the perfect medicine for a case of “I just realized I hate my major and I’ll probably never get a job and I’m going to be in so much f-ing debt” syndrome.

Recovering from an injury, but love crazy-hard workouts? Pilates is completely low-impact, making it easy for anyone with an injury to work out without risking recovery time (of course, make sure it’s okay with the doctor first!). While yoga is better for serious injury recoveries (like back or knee problems), Pilates is doable with many other common injuries among active college girls. And always tell your instructor beforehand – he or she may have some awesome modifications to fill you in on to make sure you don’t worsen your injury, but still get the full effect.

Take a day off from the usual treadmill run/weight lifting combo, and treat your body to some slow and steady exercise patterns for a change – trust me, your joints deserve a break. Fitting a yoga or Pilates class into your schedule can seriously cure anything from a tight hamstring to a terrible week at school. When we focus completely on ourselves for a change, our bodies and our minds thank us, whether you realize it or not.

So ladies, which will it be? Try out a yoga or Pilates class and find your inner strength!

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