What is the difference between Pilates & Yoga?

I get asked so often from people “what is the difference between Pilates & Yoga?”

Well whilst they are very different in their origins and teaching styles they both can offer similar results and benefits.

Yoga was developed to prepare the mind and body for meditation, whilst Pilates was developed to work the body through systematic movements to strengthen and improve its function.


Yoga originated in South Asia thousands of years ago. It has spread into many different locations and evolved with many different cultures.Today, there are many different types of yoga, including Bikram, Ashtanga, Iyengar, Kundalini, and Vinyasa. – Quote is taken from doyouyoga.com

Pilates, created in the 1920s, is much younger than yoga! A German man named Joseph H. Pilates, who served as a nurse in World War I, developed the practice as a way to rehabilitate wounded soldiers. After he relocated to the United States before World War II, dancers began to learn of his techniques. They quickly adopted his exercise system and were able to use it to recover from injuries and stay in tip-top shape.

It wasn’t until the 1990s that Pilates exercises finally became mainstream. Fitness buffs in the United States adopted the practice as a way to become — or remain — injury-free while developing long, lean, dancer-like muscles. – Quote is taken from Yogaoutlet.com


Both Pilates & Yoga offer improved flexibility, strength, balance, control and endurance, however, the biggest difference is the emphasis on the spiritual and meditative component of Yoga. Pilates also uses specific apparatus or equipment such as the Reformer and Cadillac and focuses more on postural alignment through the strengthening of the “powerhouse”. Another major difference is the breathing. Pilates teaches posterior lateral breathing so that the core abdominal muscles can continue to be activated whilst breathing. In Pilates we say “exhale on the effort”. In Yoga the breathing is more abdominal “belly breathing” and is used to control the energy throughout the practice.

Both practices offer many benefits and can also be used in conjunction with each other. I am a Pilates Instructor but try and practice Yoga at least once a week to improve my flexibility and to reduce stress whereas I do Pilates for strength and muscle tone…but both offer me variety in my workouts and a feeling of mindfullness and wellbeing.




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