3 Key Differences Between Yoga And Pilates You Should Know

The two most popular types of workouts, Yoga and Pilates, seem to be similar in many ways. People often get confused while trying to choose their workout program.

The main difference between these two workouts is the kind of exercise offered. However, there are several other differences between the two. If you want to know about these differences, read this article.

Pilates and yoga are two of the most popular forms of exercise on the planet. Both have their respective, loyal followings and fans who swear by their effectiveness. As with any good debate, when it comes to Pilates vs. yoga there’s no clear winner but rather a group of people agreeing or disagreeing with each other. But within this disagreement, there is a lack of understanding as to what each entails which is why I’m writing this article — to clear up confusion.


Whenever you see a group of women in tight clothing doing some sort of exercise, they’re probably practicing yoga. This ancient form of exercise has become very popular over the last 20 years, and everyone from celebrities to suburban moms uses yoga to stay healthy.

You’ve also probably seen women on television doing Pilates. This is a modern version of an old exercise routine that’s also becoming more popular. While these two exercises have similar goals (helping to improve your health), how they accomplish this is actually pretty different.


What Is Yoga?

Yoga is an ancient practice of physical, mental, and spiritual belief originating from India. It involves the use of physical postures and breathwork to increase strength, flexibility, and overall wellbeing. And it can be practiced by people of all ages and body types. Yoga is also known as Raja Yoga (“royal yoga”), as it was first intended for use by royalty and nobility but later adapted for general use. In the early 1960s in the western world, yoga became popular with the introduction of various styles of hatha yoga to Western audiences under the influence of Swami Vivekananda and his book Raja Yoga.

Most think about yoga as a physical practice, but yoga is much more than that. Yoga is a way of life that goes beyond the physical appearance and it represents an ancient Indian philosophy. The word “yoga” comes from the Sanskrit word yuj, which means joining or union. Yoga is when body, mind and spirit are in perfect harmony. If your busy lifestyle doesn’t leave you with much time to meditate, then you should definitely start practicing yoga.

yoga Balance cover

What Is Pilates?

Pilates is an exercise method that was developed in the early 20th century. Joseph Pilates, otherwise known as the inventor of Pilates, created this technique to help rehabilitate those who were injured during World War I.

Pilates developed this system based on his own observations on what areas needed strengthening in athletes who had suffered injuries. Pilates believed that through proper training, people could be rehabilitated without hurting their existing injuries.

However, over time, Pilates has evolved into a way of exercising that can be used by anyone at any fitness level. Pilates is a popular form of exercise today that focuses on flexibility and strength training. By improving your core strength, Pilates helps you develop greater flexibility in your spine and gain better posture.

5 Fast Pilates Moves For Bikini Belly

The Differences Between Yoga And Pilates

Yoga and Pilates both focus on strengthening the core, stretching muscles, and improving balance. They also both help to increase mental clarity and improve blood circulation. But there are a few key differences between the two that can help you decide which is best for you.

The first big difference is what your posture will look like during each exercise type. In yoga, you’ll often be in a standing position that is designed to lengthen your spine and increase flexibility. The poses in yoga require a strong, straight spine with minimal twisting from the waist.

In Pilates, the exercises are performed lying down or on all fours, and the movements are designed to strengthen your abdomen. These exercises are focused on strengthening the abs, pelvic floor, and lower back muscles, so you’ll need to be able to keep an upright posture throughout most of them.

Another difference between Pilates and yoga is how they target your core. Yoga poses rely more fully on gravity to provide resistance to your core muscles as they strengthen. Pilates, however, uses machines that provide resistance as well as gravity to help you sculpt your core muscles even more effectively than yoga alone can do.

The last big difference between Yoga and Pilates has to do with what kind of workout you’re looking for. Yoga and Pilates are both exercise styles that originated in the East. Yoga has existed in some form for over 2,000 years, while Pilates is a much more recent invention—Joseph Pilates created it in the 20th century. While both are low-impact exercises and great ways to improve balance and flexibility, there are also many differences between these two movements.


How Yoga Works:

Yoga involves stretches and poses or positions which vary by the “style” of yoga you study. Much like martial arts, yoga has many diverse styles which fall under the heading “yoga”, which range from traditional to more modern adaptations. Regardless of the style, most are still performed on mats and while the poses (asanas) do strengthen and tone muscle, the goal is more one of flexibility.

How Pilates Works:

Pilates may be practiced on mats, but advanced training is performed on “machines” invented by Joseph Pilates and centers around cables and sliding supports to aid in stretching and strengthening. The most well-known Pilates machine is known as the “Reformer.” Pilates, whether on a machine or on the floor develops core strength and strengthening and toning the body and muscles.



When it comes to comparing yoga and Pilates, there are no right or wrong answers. While some are inclined to lean one way or another after experiencing the methods first hand, the fact of the matter is that they are both ultimately beneficial. For example, research has shown that Pilates can be used to improve strength and increase flexibility by improving muscle definition as well as core stability. Those who practice yoga have been seen to benefit in a similar manner.

Ultimately, the difference between yoga and Pilates lies in the viewpoint of their practitioners. Yoga is a philosophy, a way of life and an opportunity for self-discovery, which can be viewed from many different perspectives. In terms of its physical benefits, there are numerous definitions, ranging from a spiritual practice to an exercise routine focused on flexibility and fitness. Meanwhile, Pilates is a comprehensive system that focuses on strength, rehabilitation and postural alignment through a series of specific exercises that target both the body’s core and its surrounding layers. But ultimately when it comes to the specifics of their practice, they’re just two sides of the same coin!

Yoga Wheel

But which is better?

The overlap between Pilates and yoga is a point of confusion for some. Both practices incorporate breathing techniques, movement, stretching, and meditative-like focus. Obviously the movements and the focus are different, but the two activities complement each other because they both address their individual forms of exercise in other ways that feed off of each other.

Should I pursue Yoga or Pilates? Why not both? First, consider your fitness goals, would you benefit most from yoga’s flexibility and meditation? Or from strength and toning or physical rehabilitation of Pilates? Pick a practice that you enjoy and that you can do on a regular, otherwise do both on alternating days or each, one or two days each week and enjoy the benefits of both yoga and Pilates!

Recommended Yoga Poses & Positions:

Recommended Pilates Exercises:

The Differences Between Yoga And Pilates