Many people throw Yoga and Pilates in the same category, but should they?

Yes, they may seem closely similar. However, they do have some noticeable differences that may be unrecognizable to many individuals.

First, you should be aware of the various forms of Yoga and Pilates. This is what distinguishes one from the other. Let’s try to explore several of their differences and similarities — then you can decide.

About the Yoga practice

Yoga has been an ancient practice used to connect the body and the mind. This is done through things like strength movement, meditation, stretching and breathing.

This practice is more than just experiencing a good workout at the gym. Yoga is a lifestyle.

The practice comes with high values for tolerance and abstaining from bad habits such as dishonesty, theft and aggression. In the contemporary form of yoga, a yoga instructor may teach different styles of yoga such as Hatha Yoga, which combines various postures with a particular breathing technique.

So that you don’t get further confused, let’s just say that Yoga would be considered as the older sibling while Pilates would be its younger brother or sister. Yoga and Pilates are still two excellent ways to improve your health and well-being.

About Pilates

Pilates came to birth in the early 1900s. It was developed by Joseph Pilates. He used this technique to assist in rehabilitating soldiers during World War I.

Since then, the practice has become quite popular among celebrities and famous individuals. There are two categories of Pilates.

One is done on a mat and the other is done on a machine, which is sometimes labeled a Pilates table. With the Pilates routine, an individual will indulge in low-impact workout by strengthening the core, doing calisthenic training and using their body weight.

Yoga and Pilates

The overlap

Even though Yoga and Pilates exercises, practices or technique don’t have the same pasts, they both overlap in certain ways.

Both of them can be used for rehabilitation, especially for people who have been injured or hurt.

In fact, stroke, anxiety and fibromyalgia patients have used both in the rehabilitation process, but Pilates is used more for physical rehab.

For drug abuse patients, yoga is used for mental and emotional stability.

Pilates has been proven to help with improving the core muscle and the upper body, subsequently resulting in more flexibility and endurance. Yoga, on the other hand, has been proven to help with improving the emotional and mental capacity of an individual, calming the nerves and reducing levels of stress.

Yoga is phenomenal in what it can do, though. Yoga can lower your BMI (body mass index) and it is still debatable whether this ancient practice is the right alternative to regular exercise.

The differences

There are differences between Yoga and Pilates, though, which are debatable also.

Yoga practice was first initiated in India thousands of years ago. Since then, it has been developed and made its way into a wide range of cultures. This is why there are so many practices of yoga such as Kripalu, Ashtanga and Bikram. These are only a few.

Pilates has only been on the scene since the mid-twentieth century and was initially used as a way to rehabilitate individuals. It was when dancers throughout the world started to modify this practice did it become so popular, helping the dancers to improve their performances and strength during training.

Mind and body — and spirit

Both Yoga and Pilates practices do focus on the mind and body connection, but Yoga more so than Pilates.

In fact, yoga adds another component and that is the spirit. Yoga allows individuals to explore their spirituality, especially using meditation.

Pilates uses its mind and body connection for everyday life.shutterstock_185763134

The actual class

In a Yoga class, students go through flexible routines, but more importantly a combination of postures, variations and sequences. Not all yoga classes are the same, but overall, that is the general consensus.

In the Pilates class, the student has to endure more structure, which means that the student will usually know what to anticipate in each class. The Yoga student on the other hand may not.

A lot of yoga instructors encourage meditation through chanting and breathing exercises. This is done to ensure focus and devotion at the start of the yoga class and the appreciation of the benefits of yoga practice towards the end.

The breathing

In both Yoga and Pilates practice, concentration and breathing is essential.

However, Yoga goes to a deeper level of breathing. For example, ujjayi breathing is used in Ashtanga yoga practice where the student or yogi breathes in and out through the nostrils while matching their breathing with the postures and movements.

Pranayama or breathing work is one of the segments in many yoga classes. Pilates encourages inhaling through the nostrils and exhaling through the mouth.


Is either Yoga and Pilates practice is right for you? It all depends on your particular goal.

If you are looking for deep meditation and spirituality, then yoga should be your immediate choice. The same is true if you want to manage stress.

If your goal is to tone and strengthen your body and improve flexibility, then Pilates would be the ideal choice.

If you are uncertain about what you want, then try both of them in order to make an informed decision. You may like both Yoga and Pilates and can incorporate both Yoga and Pilates into your lifestyle. Nothing is wrong with that.

As long as you are doing something worthwhile and progressive, that is all that matters.

For more Yoga inspiration, check out the blog of Zenward, The School of True Yoga. If you’re looking for to start or continue on your yoga journey anytime, anywhere, discover more here.

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