The Breakdown: Yoga Vs. Pilates

The Breakdown: Yoga Vs. Pilates

As coach one of the questions you get asked a lot is: What is the difference between Yoga and Pilates?

Each practice has similarities and differences in their mechanics and histories, so it’s understandable that people might be unclear on which does what. Hopefully, this blog will help clear up any confusion so you can decide which one is best for you. You may even choose to incorporate both into your routine.

Let’s begin by looking at the origin of each practice.

Yoga has been around for at least 3,000 years. Some say the exact origins of Yoga are unknown but that it originated in India. Yoga has roots in Buddhism and other Eastern religions.

Pilates was developed by Joseph Pilates at the end of World War I for the purpose of physical rehabilitation.

There are many different types of Yoga ranging from gentle and nourishing to challenging and sweaty. Holding various poses and flowing through different movements is standard in most classes.

Pilates works from the centre of your body outward, increasing your physical awareness, which should result in a stronger body. 

Yoga inspired Pilates and as a result, many of the benefits and components of the two technologies are similar.


  • Both Yoga and Pilates can be done with only the use of a mat. Props are optional.

  • They centre on diaphragmatic breathing and require mental focus to facilitate the exercise.

  • Each practice offers control, flexibility, endurance strength and stress-relief.

  • Both can be tailored to different fitness levels.

  • The biggest difference between Pilates and Yoga is the emphasis on a spiritual component in classes. Most Pilates classes don’t offer an obvious outward spiritual experience. However, a slower-paced Pilates class can be both meditative and stress relieving.
  • You might like to get to a Yoga class once a week and prefer a class without chanting or OMing, but that's just personal preference. Some people find chanting helps their focus and a good OM or growl (see Deep Dark Yoga) can be soothing.

Each practice also has a different purpose;

Yoga provides a meditative environment to improve physical health, emotional and spiritual health through mindfulness and deep breathing. The meditation component in many types of yoga facilitates stress relief.

The main goal of Pilates is to strengthen the core, improve posture, stabilise / elongate the spine, develop balance and overall strength. The six key principles of Pilates are 1. breathing, 2. concentration, 3. control, 4. centreing, 5. flow and 6. precision.

Lastly, when looking at our classes, one of the things you should consider are the benefits – what do you want to get out of your practice?

♡  Yoga can build flexibility, balance, endurance, strength and spirituality.
♡  A regular Pilates practice helps sculpt a leaner body, from your core muscles out. It also helps practitioners gain flexibility, strength and improved posture.

These details should help you make a more informed choice as to which practice you go with. Of course, as mentioned, there’s no reason you can’t incorporate both practices into your regular routine.

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