Yoga Versus Pilates -Are There Differences And Similarities?

‘Yoga Versus Pilates’ is increasingly becoming a hot debate between advocates of both exercise regimes. Both camps could easily defend their stance as to why you should choose their form of exercise over the other.

Yoga is basically an activity mainly consisting of postures, connected by flowing sequences, with breathing exercises which usually end in a period of meditation. It is an ancient form of exercise that focuses on strength, flexibility and breathing to improve mental and physical wellbeing.

Pilates on the other hand, is a form of low-impact exercise that seeks to strengthen the body by placing more emphasis on breathing, alignment, improving balance, coordination and developing a strong core. It concentrates on flexibility, balance and posture as it emphasizes on correct form.

These 2 different but similar exercise regimes are inter-related as many of the postures in yoga are similar to the postures and shapes used in Pilates exercises whiles many of the Pilates workouts are inspired by Yoga.

The Similarities Are Not Hard To Find

Choosing between yoga and Pilates can be a very tough task. Is the superiority of one over the other dependent on physiological difference or is it just a case personal preference? When it comes to yoga versus Pilates, one cannot avoid discussing the similarities between the 2 forms of exercise…..

Let’s take a look at some similarities:

  • Both Pilates and yoga place a lot of emphasis on mental focus. Both exercises place a lot of focus on promoting greater connection and awareness between the mind and body. This can help to reduce stress.
  • Both yoga and Pilates require you to focus on the present moment and to use your entire body. You are encouraged to focus on the actual movement rather than the final outcome.
  • They both emphasize on breathing, balance, flexibility, alignment and strength. Diaphragmatic breathing is of high importance in both forms of exercise.
  • Both forms of exercises highly boosts circulation of oxygen in the body.
  • Both can be done with little equipment. These forms of exercise mostly require just a little more than an exercise mat.
  • Both yoga and Pilates poses are ideal for individuals with back pains. The poses in both forms of exercise can result in a much stronger and supportive back muscles.


The Differences Between Yoga And Pilates

Even though yoga and Pilates are considered similar, there are still starkly different exercise regimes. Are you contemplating which of the 2 forms of exercise to choose?…..Here are a few differences to ease the decision-making process:

  • Even though they both require the use of mats, other equipments utilized can be completely different. In addition to mats, yoga uses minor equipments such as straps and blocks to aid in poses. Pilates uses machines such as the reformer, spine corrector, wunder chair and Cadillac, just to mention a few.
  • Most Pilates classes incorporate the use of equipments to challenge the body whiles the mind-body connection is the center of yoga. Instead of using machines, yoga allows the body to serve as resistance to itself.
  • Most of the poses in yoga are done standing, whiles in Pilates, most of the exercises are carried out whiles lying on your stomach, on your back, or lying on your sides. It is worth noting that there are standing exercises on Pilates just as there are some yoga poses done on the floor.
  • Yoga is simply a meditative practice whereas Pilates was originally developed to help injured athletes.
  • The moves and poses, as well as the length of time used to execute these move/poses are different. Poses are held for much longer on yoga. Pilates movements are shorter and with fewer repetitions as more emphasis is placed on precision and control.
  • Pilates places more emphasis on gaining abdominal strength first, whereas yoga mostly concentrates on gaining flexibility and strength of the limbs and spine.
  • Yoga firstly focuses on the concentration of breath before focusing on deepening a pose. With Pilates, every movement starts from the center(core) before extending out to the limbs.
  • Pilates and yoga are both suitable for toning the abdominal muscles, however, results are much quicker with Pilates than yoga. Pilates exercises are a lot more intense.
  • Pilates focuses on trying to relax tense muscles and strengthen the muscles of the body. Yoga on the other hand improves flexibility of the body, especially that of your joints.

Yoga Vs Pilates….Your Final Choice

The benefits of yoga are countless, same as that of Pilates. Both yoga and Pilates are great additions to your exercise routine and I strongly recommend you give both a try. The easiest way to decide which one suits you is to give both a go!

A Word Of Caution…..

It is strongly recommended you consult a doctor before taking up yoga or Pilates, especially if you are recovering from a recent injury, suffer from back or neck pain, pregnant, have respiratory problems or any other physical restrictions.

Care has to be taken with some yoga poses as there is the likelihood of worsening existing back problems.

Always remember to modify workouts to your ability and fitness level!

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  1. Pilates and yoga are two of my favorite types of exercise, and I really appreciate how you’ve compared them here – I’ve actually never taken the time to see how similar yet different they are! I will say I practice yoga more often, but really because I love the meditative aspect of it.

    • The meditative aspect of yoga is always an added attraction, am not surprised you practise it more. I am glad you took the time to read my post. Sharing such useful info is always my goal. I hope to see you here again soon. Thank you!

    • It is indeed time for you to give Pilates a try, Fatsani. The health benefits completely out-weighs the sweat and discomfort your body might experience whiles practising this form of exercise. You surely wont regret it! Thank you!

  2. What a very informative article!
    I thought those two exercises were similar and I am actually so wrong.
    Thank you for pointing out the differences between the two, but either way, I love doing both since it helps me focus my breathing and muscles at work.

    They are amazing exercises for your health, and they increase your strength and flexibility. If you ask me what I would do, I would say, “Why not both?”

    • I completely agree with the idea of doing both forms of exercises. Your body has more to gain from doing these 2 forms of exercises.
      It is very easy to think these 2 forms of exercises are the same, but they are definitely not.
      I hope you’ll recommend these exercises to friends and family…..I am confident they’ll thank you later.
      Thank you for giving my article a read. See you here again soon!

  3. Thank you so much for defining and explaining the differences between yoga and pilates! I had no idea, and thought they were one in the same. Reading your post has really inspired me to find a local pilates class to join, especially to help with some pain I experience. I didn’t know these forms of exercise were to help with injury, I (naively) assumed they were just about breathing, meditation and head space. Thank you so much for sharing this information with me and creating a new path for me to take in regards to pain management.

    • Hi Jess, I am very glad you learnt something new from article. My aim is to share such helpful info!
      Despite the positive effects of both yoga and Pilates, I’ll still strongly suggest you consult a medical practitioner if your pain persists. Please do also try to start ‘easy’ and then increase the level of difficulty and intensity as your body gets more comfortable.
      Thanks for the read and I hope you’ll share this article with friends and family. Once again, thank you!

  4. Thanks Daniel for your informative article. When my wife was alive I used to practice yoga with her so I still remember those moves, but I didn’t realize pilates was so similar, although quite different in many ways. I may check into pilates locally. Thank you for sharing.

    • Thanks for the comment, Terry. I am glad you found my article informative. I support your decision to check out Pilates. It shouldn’t be a difficult change for you considering your yoga background. I am confident you wont regret. Hope to see you here again soon, Terry. Once again, thank you!

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