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Prenatal Yoga vs Pilates – Which Is Better?

Fitness, Stress, Yoga

Prenatal Yoga vs Pilates – Which Is Better?


Hi Moms-to-be! How’s it going?

‘M sure the exhaustive post on Prenatal Yoga has got you kicking already!

Though, on request of a lot of expectant mothers, here’s my take on Pregnancy Pilates. This is for you all to be well informed about the various forms of exercise during pregnancy, in case you wish to take up this as well.

What are Pilates?

‘Pilates’ are originally a set of 34 movements called Pilate movements, with each one offering different benefits. They are a mix of matwork and equipment based routines. According to Michael King, author of Pilates Workbook for Pregnancy: Illustrated Step-by-Step Matwork Techniques, Pilates is a combination of T’ai chi (Chinese martial art) and Yoga.

‘Pregnancy Pilates’ are Pilate movements modified to suit the needs of an expectant mother. The movements and positions involved in practicing these are largely focused on the belly, the back muscles and the pelvic floor muscles. All these parts are the most important when it comes to pregnancy and childbirth.

Pilates are known to strengthen the tummy, back muscles and pelvic floor muscles and are also effective in helping the mother maintain a correct and good posture during pregnancy.[1]

Prenatal Yoga vs Pregnancy Pilates

What makes Pregnancy Pilates different from Yoga is its focus on the body’s centre or core. It spots or develops a central core in the mother’s body and then suggests practicing movements that challenge that core’s stability.[2]

If the two styles of exercise are compared thoroughly, one can clearly observe that Prenatal Yoga targets a wide spectrum of the human system, whereas Pregnancy Pilates is mainly about the muscles that are used for childbirth (core muscles).

Prenatal Yoga assures you an overall well being during pregnancy. It targets various issues like fatigue, aches, pains, cramps, vitality, emotional wellness and the like.

Pregnancy Pilates promise balance, strength and coordination. One can say that Pilates are specific in nature in terms of muscles involved and also in terms of benefits.

Both the styles of exercise work around different concepts.

How to decide which one is the best for you?

Both Prenatal Yoga and Pregnancy Pilates are great to be practiced during pregnancy. However, it is solely left to you to decide which one to go in for. Here are some tips to help you take the decision:

  • Spot the problem: First, spot the problem areas of your pregnancy. You might not have swollen feet, but the fatigue must be killing you. Or, you might not be feeling dull and down but your back might be hurting you endlessly. In such cases, you need to decide what needs to be tackled first and which style of exercise would be suitable for it.
  • Time constraints: You might be running short on time due to work pressure or might have the whole day at your disposal. If you have time in hand, then to get the most benefit, Prenatal Yoga and Pregnancy Pilates can be clubbed together (under supervision obviously) and practiced.

However, if you do not have enough time in a day to exercise at length then you can choose either style, depending upon the problem area.

Note: Normally, one is recommended to do Pilates 20-30 minutes a day; 3-5 times a week.

  • Personal Fitness Level & Medical Condition: Many a times, many Pilates are not recommended for mothers carrying more than one baby or having other medical issues like high BP, diabetes, heart or lung conditions etc. In such cases, doctor-recommended Yoga poses can be practiced.
  • Knowledge: For Yoga, one should have primary knowledge of various Yoga poses and for Pilates, one should be aware of the basic exercises practiced in mat classes.[3] This will help you decide better for yourself.

How to begin?

Prenatal Yoga

Pregnancy is said to be the best time to start Yoga if you’ve not done it earlier. However, be a little careful with the poses and it is advisable to do it under a trained instructor.

Just be gentle and soft with your body and don’t force yourself to take up any pose. Voice your discomfort and stay alert to the signs that your body gives you.

All you need is a Yoga instructor, yoga mat and interest to get started!

Pregnancy Pilates

To begin with Pregnancy Pilates, you need to have some basic knowledge about the same. A Pilate instructor, who has experience with Pregnancy Pilates and has trained pregnant women earlier, is next on the list. A Pilate mat or a Yoga mat will suffice for you to perform the exercises. Other props that you might require to get started are Foam-rollers, flex bands, Pilate rings and Pilate balls.

Pregnancy Yoga and Pregnancy Pilates can both work wonders during pregnancy if practiced wisely under supervision. Which side of the coin wins the debate is for you to settle on. Put on your thinking hats, analyze the options served to you and get on your toes to march off to a healthy pregnancy and childbirth.

I shall wait to know your answers!

Pilates and yoga are also great for post pregnancy recovery. If you think pilates is your preferred option then you could consider buying a pilates reformer, Groom+Style have reviewed the top options in this article.

More on Pregnancy:

1. How I Made My Pregnancy Easy – Trimester wise!

2. How To Keep A Pregnant Woman Happy

3. Complete Guide To Prenatal Yoga


[1] King, Michael, and Yolande Green. Pilates Workbook for Pregnancy: Illustrated Step-by-Step Matwork Techniques. Ulysses Press, 2002. ^Back to Top^

[2] Balogh A (2005). Pilates and pregnancy. RCM midwives : the official journal of the Royal College of Midwives, 8 (5), 220-2 PMID: 15960329. ^Back to Top^

[3] Sorosky, S., Stilp, S., & Akuthota, V. (2007). Yoga and pilates in the management of low back pain Current Reviews in Musculoskeletal Medicine, 1 (1), 39-47 DOI: 10.1007/s12178-007-9004-1. ^Back to Top^

Last Updated: Jun 10, 2014

Next Scheduled Update: Aug 11, 2014

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