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Yoga Verses Pilates: What’s the Difference?

A lot of people ask me what the difference is between yoga and Pilates. It is a very common question and a very common mis-understanding.

Although yoga and Pilates are in the same category of fitness they have a number of big and recognizable differences.

Lets start with some Similarities:

1: Flexibility

Both yoga and Pilates focus on mobility and flexibility. A Yoga class will involve stretching whereas the fundamentals of Pilates also include exercises designed to promote mobility.

2: Postural Alignment:

Improved posture is something that goes hand in hand with many people’s ideas of Pilates and is also a key benefit of Yoga as well. In Yoga you learn what correct posture feels like and how to hold it for long periods of time in many and varied positions. Pilates focuses on strengthening the muscles required for good posture at a quicker rate


1: Spirituality:

One of the main reasons i decided to venture down the yoga route was down to its spiritual nature. Yoga is not just about the physical it is about the mental also. Calming the mind using the breath (pranayama) so you can get as much as you can from the physical. One of my favorite sayings is “ the ego dissolving properties of the yoga poses” . Yoga aims to bring you away from the material realm and into the conscious one in order to reach a more enlightened way of being.

Yoga has a long history that is intertwined with spirituality in India and its practice varies across the religions Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism.

Pilates practice can be spiritual as well as physical, but the reason Joseph Pilates created the exercise form was to aid in physical well-being and rehabilitation first and foremost.

2: Class Expectation:

Yoga - what to expect in a yoga class depends on many factors including the teacher, studio, class type, and even the day. Be wary of a class simply titled “yoga,” because class types can range from gentle, slow-paced, relaxation sessions to sweaty, powerful workouts.Some types of yoga, like Bikram and Ashtanga, are more consistent day to day because they have an established sequence of poses. Other types, like Vinyasa or “Flow,” leave the sequence up to the creative freedom of the teacher with an infinite amount of variations and combinations of poses

Pilates - classes are more consistent day to day. Typically, Pilates exercises are performed lying supine, prone, or on your side. You can expect to do low-impact muscular strengthening and flexibility exercises on a mat with minimal equipment (although some specialized Pilates studios have reformer machines).

There are different levels of Pilates from beginner to advanced, however, unlike yoga, there are no different styles within Traditional Pilates.

3: Breath

Yoga - Breath work in yoga is referred to in Sanskrit as pranayama. Breath is considered a source of energy and life that channels through your body. The goal of breath work is to slow down and control the anxieties and stresses of everyday life. It is to come into the here and now.

Pilates - In Pilates, practitioners are encouraged to be aware of their breath throughout the entire class—inhaling through the nose, and exhaling through the mouth. Unlike yoga, there are not different breathing techniques used, nor are specific sections of class devoted to breath work. Rather breathing is a consistent and constant effort.

4: Goal

Yoga - The diverse variety of yoga poses will work your entire body. In yoga, each pose is complemented with a counter pose to work the opposite muscle group. Teachers will often base a class off of a certain group of yoga poses, e.g. backbends, twists, inversions, arm balances, or standing balances. Props are not necessary for yoga classes, however, many teachers will utilize blocks or straps to help get students into poses.

Pilates exercises are based on the principle that every movement originates from the core. The exercises are typically small, isolated movements, and are repeated in sets. The goal of a class is to focus on spinal alignment and strengthening the core in order to have total body control over your movements.


I hope this clarifies the differences for you all! Both are great workouts it just depends on what kind of outcome you are looking for.

Still unsure which is for you…. why not try both!



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