Is Pilates or Yoga better for Posture?

Contributed by Yasemin Kececi


The importance of a good posture has come to be appreciated more in the last few decades, as the habits and the living standards of people have forced them to disobey the origin of their physical creation by not working their muscles properly and effectively. An increasing number of people are suffering problems due to postural misalignment. Under these circumstances, disciplines like Yoga and Pilates have become more popular in terms of their potential for flexing and strengthening the muscles equally. This also brings a common question: Which is more effective in correcting the posture? Yoga or Pilates?

In order to give a proper answer, we need to understand the aim of the both practices well.

Both Yoga and Pilates embrace the importance of the mind in controlling the body. There is a difference in that yoga seeks to achieve a balance between body, mind and spirit, coming from its religious roots. Pilates maintains a mind-body approach to improve physical fitness and posture.

Yoga, an ancient practice of thousands of years, is a holistic discipline and an integrated health management system. It seeks to achieve a balance between body, mind and spirit, originating from ancient Indian religious practices. Pilates, on the other hand, is a specific physical system developed by a German anatomist and mechanical genius, Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century to rehabilitate veterans. It is a physical system that uses very specific targeted exercises to improve strength, flexibility and posture with a deliberate focus on the core. Although Yoga and Pilates are both respected for their numerous health benefits, from offering connection to the body and stress relief, to developing flexibility, strength, control and endurance, Pilates – especially Reformer Pilates is far more effective than Yoga in curing any kind of postural misalignments. Both practices place a great deal of importance on breathing, too in slightly different ways.

Pilates method generally works from the inside out - using core or abdominal control to rule the movements of the periphery of the body under the guidance of a professional trainer. Toning abdominal and core muscles provide a stability and muscular intelligence that an upright or sitting human body needs for optimal function. Improved posture relies on encouraging natural curves in the spine, and working against the effects of gravity and sedentary lifestyle of people working at a desk to maintain good function. 

Pilates and posture

Chest expansion

Shoulder mobility and back /chest expansion are essential moves to a good posture

Reformer is designed to provide spring-loaded tension, making it similar to gravity in the way it affects your body weight. It works as a sliding carriage which moves by way of a pulley system offers a combination of resistance and support for the body. The Reformer uses springs to add varying degrees of tension and resistance to workouts and exercises, which helps to strengthen and lengthen the muscles at the same time. It offers one of the most superior ways to balance the right amount of mobility and stability in all the different body positions available. Resistance training on Pilates equipment is also more gentle on the joints such as knees, shoulders and neck. Some of these exercises can be performed on the floor and on a mat using simple props such as bands, too.

Exercises on a Reformer allows a perfect spinal articulation to improve body control while moving one vertebra at a time and engages deep muscles around the spine. Those exercises challenge the body to stretch to the fullest while maintaining good form. It lengthens the limbs and retrains the muscles while strengthening the core. All these features help correcting postural misalignments and supply us with a pain free and more quality life through purposeful movement.

Side bend on box

Side bend on short box is another great Pilates exercise that also works and benefits abs

Research indicates that working out on a Reformer for minimum 12 weeks can improve posture. Another study underlines that 6 months of Reformer Pilates enhances cervical and thoracic spine alignment and may contribute to postural stability and improved performance.

Back extension on Spine Corrector

The Spine Corrector allows many back extension possibilities

When all these elements are taken into consideration, Yoga compliments Pilates by increasing flexibility and inner strength but it’s Pilates attention to the muscles and skeletal realignment that solves poor posture and eases back pain. To sum up, Equipment Pilates will improve your posture, while opening up your spine, giving you a taller appearance. Muscular imbalances will be corrected decreasing the risk for injury, especially to the lower back area. Awareness of proper posture during exercise will carry over to awareness of proper posture when performing everyday movements.

Equipment Pilates appears to be a method worth trying for a better posture and a pain free, healthy life!

About the Author

Yasemin is a certified and devoted Pilates Instructor and Posture Corrector in London area. She has been an instructor since 2008, combining a wealth of knowledge and experience in her practice.

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