Is Pilates Harder Than Yoga?

Are you looking for a new form of exercise to add to your fitness routine? If you’re deciding between Pilates or Yoga, keep reading.

The best way to decide between the two mat classes is to get informed about them, as well as their benefits, advantages, and challenges. 

We have prepared the answers to your biggest questions about Pilates and Yoga, like, which one is harder? And which one is more beneficial for your needs?

What is Pilates?

Pilates has a reputation for being intimidating, this is due to many things. It could be from the nature of the creator, the link to the NYC ballet or the hard core traditionalist teachers despising the hundreds of Pilates evolutions. 

Intimidating or not, it sure does build total body strength and flexibility! All this by using your body weight and sometimes, additional equipment. 

Pilates was invented and developed by Joseph Pilates in the 1920s, he refined his sequence of movements during his time in an internment camp during world war 1. 

Pilates is a low-impact way to build strength in all of your muscle groups, especially your core muscles. Pilates focuses on being an energetic and mindful exercise method for the body that improves strength, muscle control, stability, and posture. 

Pilates exercises can be either done on a mat or on a Pilates machine, the most famous one being the Pilates Reformer.

Some of the main benefits of Pilates include: 

  • Improved flexibility and mobility 
  • Increased core strength 
  • Improved posture and increased body awareness 
  • Decreased back pain 
  • Improved balance 
  • Boosted immunity 
  • Improved cognitive functioning 
  • Preventing other workout-related injuries 
  • Increased energy 
  • Increased body awareness 
  • Decreased stress


What is Yoga?

Yoga is a movement practice that has been around for thousands of years, it promotes mind body connection while lengthening and strengthening all of the muscle groups in the body. 

There are several different forms of Yoga and types of Yoga, such as Yin Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Hot Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Iyengar Yoga, and many more. 

Yoga practice consists of a series of physical poses that flow together while the Yogi focuses on their breath, it’s all about inward attention, and awareness. 

Some of the main benefits of Yoga include: 

  • Improved strength, balance, and flexibility
  • Provides back pain relief 
  • Eases arthritis symptoms
  • Improves heart health 
  • Increased relaxation
  • Improved sleep 
  • Happier moods and more energy


Which is Better, Yoga or Pilates? 

Both Yoga and Pilates are practices that target all muscle groups, from powerhouse muscles to tiny stabiliser muscles. They can improve your flexibility, strength, posture, and breathing technique.

They can and will (when consistently practised) improve your overall health and wellbeing. 

Another great point is that both Pilates and Yoga classes are very much adaptable for anyone to practise, which makes them accessible and inclusive for everyone, no matter your age, weight, gender, and fitness ability. 

It is easy to modify both of these workouts and make them gentler or more challenging, depending on your preference. 

Both styles of exercise also connect movement to breath, therefore they help welcome in presence, reduce stress and become great exercises to support mental health.

When it comes to the question of which of the two is better, there is no clear answer, as it depends on your individual needs, wants and abilities. 

Your best bet is to try both forms of exercise and determine whether Pilates or Yoga suits your needs and abilities. You can try this free Yoga and Pilates Fusion class and get a taste of both!

Which is harder, Yoga or Pilates? 

The difficulty of these workout classes is dependent on many different things. Like your fitness level and the style of Yoga or Pilates you are doing. The level of class, whether beginner or advanced and the actual movement patterns within the class. 

For Pilates, we believe every class can be deemed a challenge. If you are focusing on your form and technique, if you are present with the move, if you are engaging your core, then every Pilates move is hard (and amazingly effective!). 

Sure there are easier moves to grasp, and this interchanges from person to person. 

For example, if there are 2 people with similar levels of core strength but one has more back flexibility than the other, the one with more back flexibility will find a Pilates roll up far easier than the person with limited back flexibility. 

Another example, the taller person with less strength in their legs, will find it hard to lift their leg in an all 4s table top when compared to a shorter person with more strength. 


One last example, during a fast paced Pilates class, the fitter person will find it easier than the person who hasn’t exercised in 5 years. This is why we love to add faster classes to our MerryBody Studio classes, this way you get the strength, the stretch and the cardio fitness class all in one!

Ok you get it. It’s different for each and every individual.

Now Yoga, this is all dependent on the style you choose.

If you go for Yin Yoga, this is easier in terms of movement. It’s slow, you’ll stay in a Yoga pose for 3-7 minutes, don’t worry it’s not like you’ll stay in a warrior 3 pose for 7 minutes! Think pigeon pose for 5 minutes, this is easy and very relaxing if you find pigeon pose comfortably. But if you have tight hips and glutes it could be really tough, especially mentally tough! 

If we were to compare Yoga and Pilates to each other, we’d be talking about the Vinyasa Flow style of Yoga. And the truth is they can both be hard. 

They both can be physically and mentally demanding and they both will give you amazing results inside and out. 

We suggest you do both of these practices. Together they create a balanced workout for your mind, body and soul. They’re also fun! 

But What About Weight Loss? 

Is your question more around which workout is better to lose weight? Head on over to this article and read more about our thoughts! 


If you’re ready to try them out, don’t forget to sign up over here for our Free Yoga and Pilates Fusion class. In one class you will try out both forms of movement. Decide for yourself whether Yoga or Pilates is the better workout!

Always merrymaking,

Emma + Carla


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