A healthy, toned body is just the start of the physical transformation you can expect by practicing either yoga or Pilates regularly. Both disciplines strengthen and lengthen the body through focusing on the breath, alignment, and balance – and both practices have the potential to increase fat loss, develop muscle tone, and build flexibility and strength – leading to a more toned lean-looking physique.
If you’ve ever wondered which practice is better for toning – there are a few elements of each practice that need to be considered. It’s important to note that both practices, ultimately, will create similar benefits (toning, weight loss, muscle strengthening, and improvements to your wellbeing) if done regularly and intensively.
The second thing to remember is that all movement is good movement, and the best exercise is always the one that you prefer – as this leads to consistency, improved results, and long-term results.
As for which practice is the best for toning specifically? We are going to compare the two in this article and let you decide!
How does Pilates change your body shape?
Perhaps the most noticeable way Pilates affects your body composition is through using both your body weight, (and other added weights), as a form of resistance training. Working against this resistance (sometimes up to two minutes in one exercise without a rest) – is exhausting to the muscle group you’re working. This, stretched out over a 50-minute Pilates class, hitting every muscle group in the body = muscles that WANT to grow.
However, unlike the gym, or standard weights training, the movements we do during Pilates class work by both strengthening AND lengthening the muscles, giving them an intensely toned, athletic look over time. By stretching the muscle after we strengthen the muscle, the muscle fibres start to lengthen and re-align, which is an amazing way to shape the body, giving you a tighter and leaner physique.
Another reason Pilates classes are great for toning your body, is that we work ALL of your abdominal muscles, including the six-pack rectus abdominis, the waist-defining obliques, AND the deep transverse abdominis – which is the lower part of your abdominals often missed in traditional ab workouts.
Many movements and postures we do during class require you to hold your core in place while moving your limbs in different directions. This challenges your body with balance and stability and strengthens your core over time allowing your abdominals to become more defined.
In a study conducted by Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, they found that after completing 36 weeks of Pilates training, women strengthened their abdominis by an average of 21%, helping their stomachs look a lot more defined.
How does yoga change your body shape?
One of the greatest misconceptions about yoga Melbourne– is that it’s too ‘low-impact’ to have an impact on your body composition. What many people don’t realise, is that yoga Melbourne is a form of strength training.
The definition of strength training is any type of physical exercises specialising in the use of resistance to induce muscular contraction, which builds the strength, anaerobic endurance, and size of skeletal muscles. And this our friends – is EXACTLY what your muscles are doing every time you hold a yoga pose for an extended period of time.
Not to mention the fact that yoga is a full body workout. The reason being, is that balancing (something we do all class long) requires control of all of your muscles. When you simply hold downward dog, you use every muscle in your body, particularly your core. Whether we are holding core-centric poses for an extended period of time, or continuously flowing from pose to pose, each movement raises the heartbeat, strengthening your muscles and resulting in a more toned, shaped body.
All you have to do is try a few sun salutations or any flow at a good, steady pace, to realise that yoga can count as calorie-burning cardio. A beginners Yoga Class can burn between 180 and 460 calories depending on several factors, including the type of yoga you’re doing, the length and intensity of the class, and whether you’re male or female. Like most workouts, the number of calories you burn depends on your intensity, however, there are many postures and flows we do that certainly increase your heart rate and boost cardiovascular fitness, making it easier for you to grow and retain a strong, toned physique.
The ways in which yoga can tone your body also exceeds beyond yoga class. The postures, movements, and breathwork we do during class influence your body’s cortisol levels, helping to regulate the blood glucose levels and reduce stress. This will help to suppress appetite and prevent emotional eating outside of class, which often leads to weight gain.
How are they different?
Even though both practices will tone your body in different ways, Pilates is more athletic in nature. In Pilates, we like to encourage our students to feel the burn in all the right places, and to push their body to its absolute limits, especially through the use of reps. Whereas yoga is more of a holistic practice, where we certainly encourage our students to find that edge, without pushing themselves too hard to get there.
To put it simply, Pilates has a heavier focus on benefiting the physical body, whereas yoga (while it does benefit the physical body too) has more of a philosophical, spiritual, and physical focus that stems from ancient Indian culture.
Both practices also tone your bodies in different ways. Pilates is more fitness orientated, with more of an emphasis on building muscle through the use of extra weights and reps. Yoga, on the other hand, tends to focus more on stretching and elongating the tendons and muscle fibres, which means it uses flexibility and muscle lengthening to tone your body.
Which practice is quicker for toning results?
Yoga and Pilates are both wonderful disciplines for toning and strengthening all of the muscle groups in your body. However, when it comes to wanting quick results, Pilates exercises are a lot more intense and athletic in nature, therefore the results are generally achieved quicker than they might be if practicing yoga. Especially through the use of added weights, such as dumbbells, resistance bands, heavier springs, and medicine balls.
See what works for you:
Overall, yoga and Pilates are deeply beneficial, transformative mind-body practices and at Kaya we offer classes of both! To see which one is right for you, we recommend trying out a few different classes of each so you can make an informed decision.
However, it’s important to remember that yoga and Pilates don’t have to be two separate practices! For maximum benefits, we recommend incorporating both Pilates and yoga into your lifestyle. The emphasis on core strength in Pilates means you can do more in your yoga practice, and visa-versa, so combined together they can completely transform and tone your body in ways other workouts cannot.