Essential differences between yoga and Pilates


Many people think that yoga and Pilates are practically the same, due to the many similarities in their methods, forms, and routines. Indeed, both fitness systems go for almost the same goals, but it is important to know what sets them apart from each other-this way you can decide better on which regimen to follow.

Both yoga and Pilates are effective in relieving stress, promoting muscle flexibility, building on core strength and endurance, and movement control. Key differences resonate however, and these include:

Spiritual aspect

This is perhaps the biggest difference between yoga and Pilates. Yoga focuses on the wellness of the mind, body, and spirit, thus it includes a wide array of meditation techniques. On the other hand, Pilates does not have a spiritual component in its forms; it concentrates more on the wellness of the mind and body alone.

However, Pilates also provides a calming effect due to the slower pace of its exercises. While it does not trigger the spiritual aspect of the person, it helps establish a relaxing feeling which can be a stepping stone towards meditation.

Practice methods

In terms of practice methods, Pilates tends to be more disciplined and requires its workouts to be done on consistent basis in order for its benefits to take effect. This is a good practice for persons who want to follow a structured workout but are not into cardio exercises, complex postures, or chanting.

Yoga meanwhile is more flexible when it comes to poses and routines. You can mix and match poses depending on your needs and preferences, even if you are under a specific program such as Ashtanga, Bikram, or Hatha yoga. Yoga also doesn’t require rigid practice, and may be performed anytime of the day.


Yoga styles usually make use of a mat, since most exercises are done on the floor. There are also styles that use an inflatable ball, particularly those that focus on muscle flexibility. Yoga can also be practiced anywhere, unless for those that require specialized environments, such as aerial yoga or Bikram yoga.

Pilates also uses a mat, but this is a specially-designed mat that is thicker than that of yoga’s. Some Pilates formations also make use of an inflatable ball, but it also has specific equipment such as the cadillac and the reformer machine. The reformer machine is developed by Joseph Pilates, the founder of the exercise system, and it is used to perform most of the Pilates movements, particularly those that focus on lengthening the muscles.


Another difference between yoga and Pilates is that most of the exercise routines in Pilates are performed while lying down on the back, on the side, or on the stomach. These movements intend to go against gravity throughout the session, and they entail the core area of the body to lift up the ground and in turn lengthen the muscles.

In yoga on the other hand, most routines are done either standing or sitting, and these poses work with gravity, except of course for the arm balances and inverted positions (such as hand and arm stands).

The better exercise system

Both yoga and Pilates are very effective low-impact exercises especially for people who want to improve their flexibility, balance, and endurance. But choosing the better exercise system boils down to your needs and preferences-if you want a more relaxed form of low-impact exercise, then yoga is the way to go. Meanwhile, if you intend to follow are more disciplined training to boost core strength and mind-body control, then Pilates is definitely the better choice.

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