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Pilates V Yoga - What is the Difference?

Something people ask all the time is what is the difference between Pilates and yoga. It's a bit tricky really as a lot of it will depend on your instructor. Some Yoga instructors are quite intense and you can get a fantastic workout and some love the relaxation and holistic side of the programme. Some Pilates can be quite gentle and some teachers can teach a super strong workout. So as I said, a lot of it depends on the instructor and what you are looking for. My advice would be to try different classes and see what suits you.

How is a Pilates and Yoga Class Similar?

While the methods are different, Pilates and yoga both develop strength, balance, flexibility, posture and good breathing technique. Both systems emphasise the connection between physical and mental health, although yoga places more emphasis on relaxation and uses meditation. Pilates is performed both on apparatus and mats, whereas classic yoga does not require any equipment. Pilates exercises are performed in a flow of movement without the static poses associated with yoga. (NHS Website)

They’re both low intensity, low impact and inclusive

Weight Loss - Neither are a weight loss programme, more of a strengthening programme

Rehab - They both can be used for rehabilitation. However, yoga is used more to prevent injuries (a lovely yin yoga session after a long distance run is lovely as it deeply stretches all those stiff muscles) and Pilates can be used with the help of an experienced physiotherapist to relieve back/postural and other issues.

Stress Reliever - They both help to relieve stress. Both practices teach breathing techniques that can help to combat feelings of stress and anxiety, while both traditionally encourage students to align the body with the mind, taking time to focus on self-care.

Mind Body - Both focus on using the mind to focus the body on it's actions. However, in yoga this is done in a more mindful/holistic way, working on connecting the mind with the inner self, while pilates uses mindfulness to connect to the inner workings of the body

Strength, Stability and flexibility - They both help to improve the body greatly with all these areas

So you can see what Pilates and yoga have in common, but what sets them apart?


If you are looking for a real mind body connection, if you want to bring a deep meditation practise into your life and you want to deepen your spiritual side as well as adding all the benefits I've listed above, then yoga is for you. Pilates doesn't come from a spiritual background so if this is important to you, then stick with yoga. I would also say that even though there is very much an aspect on increasing your flexibility in Pilates, yoga concentrates more on deepening that flexibility.


Pilates and especially pure Pilates is a lot more structured than yoga, so if you you like to know whats coming next, if you are more of a down to earth type (like me), then Pilates may suit you more. Pilates concentrates more on strengthening the trunk of the body, perfecting postural alignment and using the six principles of breath, centering, control, concentration, flow and precision to get the best out of our bodies. Our mind is used in Pilates to help us concentrate on controlling each movement with precision, rather than deepening our spiritual side.

I hope that helps and I've not confused you more!

On a final note I would like to say that if you have time to practise both then go for it. Try different classes and different instructors until you find a class that suits YOU! I struggled with yoga until I finally found an instructor that talked to me in a very down to earth fashion and I haven't looked back. I LOVE yoga and Pilates now.

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