Yoga vs. Pilates

Which do you prefer? 

I have a confession. I don’t love yoga. Infact, I only sometimes like it- when I have a great teacher, am practising somewhere really cool or am taking a class with friends. A lot of the time I actively dislike it. I clock watch, I drink water, I take photos (for blogging purposes, not because I’m a creep). I think to myself that I wish I was more flexible, more zen. 
And then I leave class feeling like I should really go to more yoga sessions to become more flexible and more zen, and that I wish I could do the chanting without feeling like an idiot. 


I know loads of people love yoga, and plenty of my friends go regularly, and suggest that we go to classes together, something I’m usually up for doing as it does make the experience more enjoyable. I understand that they get a great stretch, they de-stress, and release tension both in body and mind. I however, often end up feeling more stressed. Stressed out by the fact that I can’t do the moves, that my knobbly knees hurt in some of the positions, that I can’t get anywhere near to touching my toes, and that I would rather be doing something else. 
Pilates, on the other hand, I get. I’m not good at it, but I enjoy it. I feel like I work up a sweat, using muscle strength as well as flexibility (or lack of) throughout the sequence of moves. It’s less spiritual, which for me, is a good thing. 
I love reformer Pilates even more than mat based Pilates, although sadly not the price. The helping hand of the machine to contort my body into various positions is fun, if uncomfortable and a little painful at times. It stretches the muscles I most need stretching- ITB, hamstrings, quads and calfs (why yes, instructor I AM a runner). Not only does it stretch my muscles, but it builds strength and stability in my core and back which I am desperately in need of working. 
I recently sat next to one of the trainers from TenPilates at a wedding and his philosophy was similar to mine; ‘I work hard in the studio so that I can reap the rewards outside of it and have fun’ (said as he polished off our decadent dessert and poured another glass of wine). Well said. 
It may be a combination of factors, like excellent Pilates teachers compared to many of the yoga teachers I’ve encountered (don’t get me wrong, I’ve had a few excellent ones) coupled with my impatience and unwillingness to dedicate the time to yoga that it need to see improvements, like I did during my 21 day challenge. I just don’t want to. And that’s the crux of the problem. When it comes to anything in life, if you don’t want to do it, you’re far less likely to dedicate the time and energy to doing it. 
I very much believe that if you don’t like one fitness class or activity, rather than continuing in misery, you should try something else. You won’t love them all, but you should find something you do love that’s the right one for you. 
Typically, it seems that my preferred stretchy sessions are also the most expensive out there, so I’ll have to take Reformer classes as and when I can, and take up friend’s offers to drag me to yoga classes in the meantime.

I know that I’m probably in the minority choosing Pilates, but you can vote for your favourite  here on the Health and Fitness Education website. 

5 Comments

  1. 28th August 2014 / 9:14 am

    I am the opposite. After years of mat pilates and not seeing any improvements, I’ve switched to yoga and it’s been great.

  2. 28th August 2014 / 9:20 am

    I really like this post. I thought I was one of the only ‘running bloggers’ who just didn’t ‘get’ yoga. I’ve tried a few classes but I just didn’t enjoy them very much, so I quit…..life’s too short for things you don’t enjoy! Maybe one day I’ll find a class and it will all just click, but for now I’ll stick with other things. Love your honesty, by the way, very refreshing.

  3. 28th August 2014 / 11:20 am

    This is really interesting. I’ve done mat Pilates, reformer Pilates and now yoga. I do clock watch more at yoga than I ever did at reformer Pilates. I remember at reformer Pilates not wanting the class to end. And it was always such hard work.
    I enjoy yoga though as it’s so different to my ‘normal’ exercise (lots of running and high cardio stuff). Sadly reform Pilates, like you said, is sooo much more expensive. Near me, one class is less than the same price of 5 yoga classes – I mean how can they justify that?! (And I got my first lesson free in yoga!)

  4. 28th August 2014 / 9:20 pm

    I go to yoga regularly specifically because I don’t like it. I get all kinds of chronic over-use injuries if I don’t stretch a ton, and the only way I can get myself to do it is if I’m stuck in a room with a teacher telling me what to do for an hour. I haven’t done enough pilates to know if it would stretch me out as much as I need, but maybe I’ll start trying to do it more as an alternative to yoga when I really can’t stand it.

  5. 29th August 2014 / 4:16 pm

    I feel like they’re similar in nature but two different beasts entirely. Pilates is like cross training to me, whereas yoga is like recovery. Both give you a strengthening/lengthening workout, but I find pilates more harsh on the body, and I’m not apt to do it after a long run like I would yoga. I know a lot of people who feel the same way about yoga as you, and I used to feel similarly. I started realizing how I needed to calm down, disconnect, and take a moment just for me. I especially enjoyed yoga during my pregnancy! It really helped me relax when my mind was constantly whirring around with information, anxiety and excitement.