What Is Better for Toning, Yoga or Pilates?


Any type of exercise with a combination of lengthening and strengthening will improve muscle tone and change the look of your muscle groups, as well as improve strength and flexibility. But what is better for toning, Yoga or Pilates?

Since both Pilates and Yoga belong to the “low intensity, steady-state” exercise category, many tend to wonder which one is the better option for toning. Pilates and Yoga are similar, in that they connect with breath and use body weight for strength training, but they really are very different. You can read more about their differences over here. 

We also want to add here that your legs and booty with bumps, lumps and cellulite are in fact normal and perfectly amazing. And we remind you that your goal to get toned or lose weight might not even be the greatest goal for you. 

This is where we check in with your reason WHY for wanting toned legs. Is it from too much scrolling on Instagram and comparing to influencers (who probably filtered that image)? Is it from a place of deep self-criticism? Is it because you’ve had a forever goal of weight loss? 

Maybe there could be a different goal or motivator for your workout? 

Perhaps it’s to feel stronger, to create better posture, to live with more comfort and ease. With these as your goals, a flow-on effect will be more toned muscles. 

If you want to hear us talk about our journey from being obsessed with weight loss to now, tune into this podcast episode. We also share more about it inside our MerryBody Online Yoga and Pilates Studio, here we are with some amazing members.


You could achieve muscle tone in a multitude of ways. But when comparing Yoga to Pilates, in order to find out which is better, we must get familiar with both kinds of exercises, as well as their advantages.


Yoga is a well known practice to reduce stress. It will also increase the flexibility of joints and therefore gradually improve overall flexibility. 

There are many different types of Yoga, but every type of Yoga brings some benefit to those who practice. 

Each of these Yoga classes, often led by the Yoga instructor, focus on awareness of the body, breathing patterns and alignment of the body with the mind. 

The postures performed during Yoga classes will focus on stretching and strengthening different muscle groups while remaining mindful of each body part.

Yoga practice will use your body weight to challenge your strength, but a variety of props, such as straps, blocks, and bolsters, can be used during a typical Yoga class. 

Some of the most useful benefits of Yoga include:

  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Improved cardiovascular fitness
  • Reduced stress 
  • Increased feelings of happiness
  • Improved body awareness and improved balance
  • Improved quality of sleep
  • Increased ability to concentrate 
  • Increased level of energy and improved mood




Pilates exercises were invented by Joseph Pilates back in the early 20th century and they continue to gain popularity. 

Pilates focuses on postural awareness by lengthening and activating appropriate muscles. The activation of these muscles during a Pilates class can then be translated into your daily life functions, such as walking, running, shopping, working or any other activity. 

During a Pilates class, your Pilates instructor will give you cues that will lead you to think about your breath, the position of your limbs and which muscles you are concentrating on and contracting. 

Although Classical Pilates is usually performed at a slower pace, we like to add some fast paced movement too, and oh wow it really gets the heart rate up! 

Some of the most useful benefits of Pilates include:

  • Increased muscle tone and strength
  • Improved core strength, which is the strength of deep core muscles
  • Strengthening the muscles of the lower back, pelvis, and hips 
  • Improved muscle control, posture, and spinal stability
  • Safe rehabilitation for injuries and injury prevention
  • Equal and balanced strength on both sides of the body
  • Improved flexibility, balance, and coordination



Yoga vs Pilates

When compared, it is evident that both Pilates and Yoga are going to increase the body’s tone and muscle strength. Therefore, both of these activities are useful, and both will lead to many positive benefits. 

Apart from the style in which exercises are performed, the main difference is that Yoga will typically use one’s body weight with longer holds and flowing movements. Pilates, will also use body weight but with much more repetitive movement, as well as, other external resistance options such as the Pilates Reformer, bands and hand weights. 

We teach Pilates with very limited equipment to ensure classes are more accessible and doable, all you need is a Yoga mat, or some space and a great online class! 

Both Yoga and Pilates are great for your mental health and mind body connection, but they are also both amazing options for building muscle tone. 

Yoga and Pilates equally target the smaller muscle groups, which ensures that the right muscles are being activated. Your injuries, limitations, and fitness goals might dictate which of these two might be the more appropriate and the optimal option for you. 

In our opinion, the most significant benefit comes from including both Yoga and Pilates in your weekly workout plan. They really do complement each other in the most amazing ways. 

The best part is you can start today!

Sign up for our Free 10 Minute Class Series. You’ll receive 5 x daily online 10 minute Yoga and Pilates classes, experience the magic of MerryBody.  

Always merrymaking,

Emma + Carla 

Ps. here’s one of our amazing members talking about their Yoga and Pilates experience

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