Pilates Vs Yoga: What’s The Difference?

There have been a slew of recent articles discussing the virtues of yoga versus Pilates to help people choose which of these mind body disciplines they might want to practice. Why choose? Let’s take a look at not only their differences, but how they complement one other.

Pilates vs. Yoga

1. Origin

Yoga has been around for so long that we can only speculate exactly when it started. Pilates is a newer practice, developed in the early 20th Century by Joseph Pilates.

2. Class Structure

A typical flow-style yoga class will likely include standing, sitting, and lying poses. Classical Pilates is primarily practiced lying down, has a specific order, and instructors may add exercises and modifications to enhance variety. Yoga is more likely to begin or end with chanting, meditation or breathing techniques.

3. Breath

Both yoga and Pilates use breath to facilitate movement. Some yoga practices have a dedicated breath pattern or method, such as ujjayi. In Pilates, the focus is on lateral breath, deep into the back ribs, so the core remains engaged throughout the movement.

4. Core Emphasis

Pilates has a stronger emphasis on the core. Bringing Pilates principles to your yoga practice will add strength and precision – you may even find yourself able to execute that arm balance due to your newfound core strength.

5. Injury Prevention

If you have ever been to physical therapy, you may recognize some Pilates exercises, as many physical therapists are also certified in Pilates. Although there are many restorative yoga options as well, many people opt for Pilates after physical therapy to prevent further injury.

Yoga + Pilates – Commonalities

1. Mind/Body Connection

Staying present, and focusing on the intention of the exercise will enrich any fitness practice and is crucial in both yoga and Pilates. Although yoga is a more obvious spiritual practice, it’s difficult for the mind to wander in Pilates because each exercise requires intense mental energy and coordination.

2. Goals

Yoga and Pilates may look different, but they have many of the same goals. Both are mind/body disciplines requiring precision, control, breath and concentration. Both are also holistic, incorporating the whole body and requiring coordinated effort to execute a pose or exercise.

3. Results

Both yoga and Pilates may provide great stress relief, added flexibility, symmetry, stability, mobility, strength, long and lean lines and muscle tone. Both have the capacity to aid in weight loss, injury prevention and recovery.

To be safe, take some private sessions first. And don’t quit after 1 or 2 classes! Yoga and Pilates each take some getting used to – like learning a new sport. I hope you enjoy both practices for years to come, just as I have.

Fabletics Master, Chanda Hinmam