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Ashish

Yoga Mats Pilates Mats

Yoga and Pilates are two of the most common fitness activities at present. Both are similar in a way and can be easily done from your home by using just a single piece of equipment i.e,. a workout mats! 

Unfortunately, many people don’t get the gist of it since it sounds so insignificant at first. Some do not use a mat at all, while some get things mixed up and use an incorrect one. You must think that it doesn’t make a difference at all. But let me correct you here.

Using a fitness mat or a Pilates mat for yoga, or a yoga mat for Pilates, is straight up unideal and could be harmful for your body, unless it’s a versatile mat that is designed to work across different exercises. 

Exercising with the right equipment, in this case, the right mat, could be as important as exercising itself. Something you should never ignore. And therefore, I am here to give you a detailed account of Yoga Mat vs Pilates Mat, so as to clear any doubts in your mind as to why there is a yoga mat for yoga and Pilates mat for Pilates in the first place. Let’s get started.

What is a workout mat?

A workout mat is a basic piece of fitness equipment that works as a fine line between safety and injury. Designed to provide comfortable cushioning between you and the hard surface, and absorb impact shocks, they also provide you with the much-needed grip so as to prevent you from slipping and injuries.

Some fitness mats are also compatible with smart devices and health apps if you wish to visualize and analyze your workout in real time. 

Exercise mats come in different shapes and sizes depending upon the type of exercises you prefer. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most used exercise mats.

  • Fitness mats are thick and large about half an inch thick and 5 feet long. They are best suitable for stretching, abs workouts and other fitness exercises. Fitness mats are generally closed cell PVC made and have a tough surface that should withstand abrasion from trainers friction.
  • Yoga mats are comparatively thin but sticky enough to hold the ground firmly. They can be manufactured by using closed cell PVC, cotton, mesh, rubber among others.
  • Pilates mats are often thicker by half an inch and wider than Yoga mats. They provide more cushion but compromise balance. 
  • Professional Fitness Mats as the name suggests are designed for professionals and athletes. You must have seen them in gyms and fitness studios. Perfect for gymnasts, these professional mats are around 1-2 inches thick, thick enough to absorb any kind of shocks caused by heavy impacts or forceful landings.

Now that you know more about some of the different types of workout mats, we can talk about yoga mats and Pilates mats in particular, and find out where the difference lies. Let’s get to it without any further ado.

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Exercise mats come in different shapes and sizes depending upon the type of exercises you prefer.

What’s the difference between Yoga Mats and Pilates Mats?

  • Pilates mats are thicker

A standard yoga mat may be anywhere between 1/8 to 1/4 inches thick compared to Pilates mat which is about half-an-inch thick. Again, thickness isn’t something that tells you whether a workout mat is good or not. Thickness or extent of cushioning and padding depends on the purpose it serves. 

For instance, Pilates which involves elements such as strength, balance, body weight, gravity and endurance needs far more cushioning to support you and prevent injuries, as claimed by the Department of Health & Human Services, Australia. Many mat-based Pilates exercises are carried out while laying on your stomach or back, and often requires a roll around on your tailbone.

Thus, Pilates mats are made thicker with more padding so as to provide your spine with extra support for a safe practice. The National Institutes of Health regards Pilates mats to be the safest base of support for mat-based Pilates than any other ordinary mat.

Yoga mats on the other hand are designed to let you perform yoga poses in a smooth flow without interrupting the rhythm of your breath, the key to an effective yoga workout! They allow you to stay grounded, maintain balance and posture by letting you hold onto your grip of hands and feet without slipping. 

Moreover, many yoga poses require less padding for proper execution. Too much cushioning can cause more softness than required and resist your movement. A thinner mat is better to feel grounded, maintain balance and carry out back-to-back movement.

In general, the thinness of yoga mats is as important as the thickness of pilates mats. There are many different yoga styles and each is better enjoyed with the right yoga mat.

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Pilates mats are made thicker with more padding so as to provide your spine with extra support for a safe practice but many yoga poses require less padding for proper execution.

  • Pilates mat is denser than yoga mat

The density of a pilates mat has a lot to do with support and balance. But let’s not confuse it with thickness. 

A thin fitness mat could be denser than a thick one. It all depends on how closely the molecules of the material are arranged. In other words, how tightly the material or foam is molded together. Normally, the denser the mat, the firmer and more stable it is, but this also depends on the design and construction of the mat.

A thicker mat low on density may feel softer but isn’t that effective when it comes to giving you necessary support and balance. Practicing on a cheap budget mat is like that of jumping on a trampoline, always in fear of tripping and falling over. 

The thinness of yoga mats balances these odds by being adherent to the surface. Yoga mats bring their sticky nature to use by firmly staying onto the ground.

  • Difference in the size of Pilates mats and Yoga mats

Lengthwise, both Pilates and yoga mats are similar. About 68 inches as their standard length which can be as long as 72-74 inches in extra-long designs. So, no need to compromise in case you’re a tall individual. The difference lies in their width though. 

Pilates mats are normally wider than yoga mats since many mat-based pilates exercises require a wider surface area to be executed. 

  • Difference in the texture of mats

The texture of a workout mat is yet another important aspect of resistance, balance and safety.

Yoga mats have a rough texture which makes them less slippery and sticky enough to hold the ground. The coarse nature of yoga mats is what keeps the surface flat during movement. It also provides sufficient friction to be able to carry out complex poses without causing any wrinkles or ridges on the mat.

Pilates mats on the other hand do not require stickiness since they are thicker and denser which allows them to stay firmly on the ground. They have a smooth texture instead, that helps you to slide easily while maintaining balance.

Pilates involves continuous movement through precise ranges of motion which requires proper placement and resistance, and that’s where the smooth texture of a pilates mat comes into play.  

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Pilates mats are normally wider than yoga mats since many mat-based pilates exercises require a wider surface area to be executed. 

  • Difference in the material of Pilates mats and Yoga mats

Most yoga and pilates mats are made from PVC or some other foam material; but it can always vary. 

Pilates mats can be made using TPE (Thermal Plastic Elastomer) as well.

Whereas, yoga mats can be easily produced by using closed cell PVC, TPE, cotton, jute, mesh, rubber, recycled rubber and other go green or eco-friendly materials.

 

The key difference between Pilates and Yoga mats!

As we’ve seen, the major difference between pilates and yoga mats lies in their thickness, density and texture. 

Pilates mats are thicker, denser, wider, and smoother than yoga mats to give you the required support, balance, space, stability  and an even surface to perform delicate motions such as sliding in a controlled manner. 

Yoga mats are thinner, softer, and rough in texture, thus firm on the ground.

The excellent grip it provides you and the adherence with which it stays fixed on the ground lets you perform a variety of yoga asanas or poses from simple to complex, from gentle to vigorous, and from lying, sitting, standing to inverted or upside down.

 

Conclusion

Despite their differences and the purpose they serve, both yoga and pilates mats offer a wide range of benefits ranging from pain relief, disability improvement or core stability to non-specific lower back pain, quite common in modern working women. (Courtesy: International Journal of Allied Medical Sciences and Clinical Research)

Besides, it doesn’t really matter whether you train your body from home, a gym, or even a park, what really matters is your commitment, discipline, diet, sleep and the right equipment. Be it for endurance, strength, balance or flexibility. Be it weight training, aerobics, calisthenics, yoga, pilates or even swimming, using the right props is always necessary for a safe and effective practice.  

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The major difference between pilates and yoga mats lies in their thickness, density and texture.

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Ashish

A freelance writer, a poet and an avid reader. He’s a passionate wordsmith who believes in writing content which is simple, beautiful and informative. He’s a practised communicator coached by British Academy.
Apart from being a playful scribbler, he’s a hardcore music fan and loves exploring space and science. He is also a spiritual soul and fitness enthusiast. Yoga, meditation and workout are some of his favourite health activities.