The age-old question of what is the difference between Pilates and yoga. The reality is pilates and yoga share many similar qualities and benefits. Both provide many benefits for optimal mental and physical health.
We found that Pilates and yoga are excellent complementary practices. In this article, we will explain what each type of exercise provides and the benefits of both for your body and mind..
While yoga’s roots stretch back thousands of years, Pilates is still relatively new in our world, especially since it didn’t receive huge recognition until after its founder passed. Joseph Pilates created this exercise program in the 1920s to rehabilitate bedridden patients recovering from surgery and soldiers during World War 1. He first called this exercise program “Contrology,” as his focus was that nothing is worked in isolation but worked in accordance with the rest of the body. He then moved to New York City in the 1960s and built a studio right above the New York City Ballet, which later served as his first client and inspiration.
Pilates can be done on mats or equipment such as the Reformer or tower, and it is low-impact and focuses on building the core while strengthening the entire body. On a machine, you will have spring resistance to assist and make exercises harder, while a mat-based class incorporates body-weight resistance. The benefits of Pilates are endless, but the top ones are core strength and stabilization, better posture, and safe mobility. Lastly, Pilates is an excellent rehabilitation tool, especially for rehabilitating injuries. Classes move slowly, and exercises can be easily modified to account for all populations.
Yoga is an ancient practice that originates from India but is now practiced worldwide. There are many types and styles of yoga, such as fast-paced vinyasa and gentle restorative practices like yin yoga. You also have practices like Kundalini that focus more on breathing and moving spiritual energy. While there are numerous styles of yoga, all share similar characteristics.
The premise of yoga is that practitioners move their bodies, legs and feet into different poses and tie deep breathing to that movement. The aim is to connect the practitioners more deeply to their bodies and breath. While the flow and types of poses and transitions will vary between styles, they all follow this aim of mind, body, and spirit.
Similar to Pilates, yoga also has many benefits. Some of the top benefits of yoga are improved and increased flexibility, better sleep, and better health. Yoga also has excellent benefits for your monthly health as it mainly focuses on mindfulness and breath work which can be great tools for healing anxiety and depression.
While Pilates and yoga are low-impact exercises and have similarities, they are slightly different. You typically ease and settle into a pose and hold it or flow into different positions when practicing yoga. Whereas in Pilates, you hold a pose and then challenge your core by moving your arms and legs in the pose. This is a big difference between the two as Pilates strengthens the body with the main focus revolving around the core, whereas yoga doesn’t centre the practice around one area of the body.
The only consistent notion in yoga is the focus on the breath. Breathwork in yoga is used for relaxation and keeping the class flow, whereas breath in Pilates is used to energize the muscles.
Another difference is how Pilates and yoga are cued in classes. Yoga cues bring the focus inwards for the practitioners, whereas Pilates brings the focus outward to the physical body.
Pilates and yoga are great forms of exercise; neither one is better than the other; they are tremendous complementary practices. When it comes to the practices, we encourage you to try both and then decide if either or both are good for your personal and fitness goals. We would advise starting with Pilates if you are injured just because the equipment makes it easier to move and exercise after an injury. But yoga can also add modifications and be an excellent place to begin your health journey.