Yoga and Pilates are two of the most popular forms of body-mind exercise today. Both Yoga and Pilates methods emphasize the uniform development of all muscle groups while promoting flexibility, circulation and skeletal alignment.


Yoga cultivates health and well-being (physical, emotional, mental and social) through the regular practice of a range of many different techniques, including postures and movement, breath awareness and breathing exercises, relaxation and concentration, self-inquiry and meditation. Researchers have discovered that the regular practice of Yoga may produce many health benefits, including increased fitness and normalisation of blood pressure, and is a renowned antidote to stress.


Pilates emphasizes your body’s core. It uses correct alignment, centering, concentration, control, precision, breathing, and flowing movement (the Pilates principles) to establish a perfect working body from the inside out. Pilates moves require you to engage virtually your whole body. The discipline emphasizes correct form instead of going for the burn and the moves take a lot of concentration.

The Difference between Yoga and Pilates

While both practices do have some similarities. They both place an importance on strength and suppleness in the spine. However once you look past the surface it is apparent that they are two very different systems. Perhaps the main difference is that Yoga is made up of a series of static postures, while Pilates is based on putting yourself into unstable postures and challenging your body by moving your limbs.

Both Yoga and Pilates encourage mindful movement and incorporate effective breathing as an integral part of the exercise. In Yoga breathing is done in and out through the nose whilst in Pilates you breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth.

Both practices emphasize breathing from the core of the body but Pilates seems to have a greater emphasis on this in the initial stages whereas in Yoga these techniques are usually brought about after you are competent in the basic postures (depending on your teacher).

In Yoga there are many different types of breathing patterns and related exercises (Pranayama) to be done during postures or as a separate practice. In Pilates there is only one type of breathing and it is always done with the exercise and never in isolation.

Yoga postures are generally static, meaning you get into the pose, hold it for several breath cycles and then you get out of the pose. Pilates exercises, meanwhile, are constantly moving and you would usually perform five to 10 repetitions of an exercise before proceeding to the next.

In a Pilates class most of the work is done lying on the mat with the main emphasis on strengthening the core of the body with little regard to the limbs. Pilates classes can also incorporate apparatuses to enhance the exercises. In Yoga you are exposed to a wider range of movements creating an overall practice and conditioning routine. In some yoga classes you will occasionally use basic props to help assist you in some poses but these are not always common place (it depends on the teacher and style).

Benefits of Yoga

The health benefits of yoga include:

  • Increased flexibility
  • Increased muscle strength and tone
  • Improved respiration, energy and vitality
  • Improved posture
  • Improved digestive system
  • Assist in weight reduction
  • Cardio and circulatory health
  • Improved athletic performance
  • Protection from injury
  • Creates mental clarity, centres attention and sharpens concentration
  • Relaxes the mind and creates calmness
  • Increases body awareness
  • Relieves chronic stress patterns

Benefits of Pilates

The health benefits of Pilates include:

  • Improved flexibility
  • Increased muscle strength and tone
  • Balanced muscular strength on both sides of your body
  • Enhanced muscular control of your back and limbs
  • Improved stabilisation of your spine
  • Improved posture
  • Rehabilitation or prevention of injuries related to muscle imbalances
  • Improved physical coordination and balance
  • Safe rehabilitation of joint and spinal injuries
  • Prevention of musculoskeletal injuries
  • Increased lung capacity and circulation through deep breathing
  • Improved concentration
  • Increased body awareness
  • Stress management and relaxation


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