"Pull up, pull in & breathe"

Yoga vs. Pilates

Published on: 04/01/19

Yoga vs. Pilates

Yoga & Pilates are often considered as similar exercise regimes, but in fact they are quite different. Some people have a preference over the other and this can be for varying different reasons.

I personally have always preferred Pilates as it focuses on my core and supports my hyper-mobility preventing me from injuring myself. From my little experience of Yoga I tended to push myself too far due to my excessive range of movement which gave the assumption that I’m the ideal Yogini this would usually result in me suffering from discomfort in my joints. I have since learnt (from my experience at a Yoga Retreat in Thailand) that the Pilates Method can help with my Yoga practice by giving me strength and structure in the asanas (poses) whilst the relaxation in Yoga helps with the mind-body connection in my Pilates practice.

I always dreaded the question “what’s the difference between Pilates & Yoga?” as I wasn’t sure how to answer it.

It has taken me several years to discover the difference between the two disciplines and here’s a basic guide to help understand how they differ:


Sanskrit, India’s ancient religious text, formed the language and technique of Yoga over 5000 years ago. It’s purpose was to connect the individuals consciousness to the universal consciousness. The asanas (postures) of Hatha Yoga prepared the body and nervous system for stillness, creating physical strength, flexibility and stamina that allows the mind to be calm. This type of meditation helps to improve your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.

Yoga has developed considerably over the thousands of years with many variations being taught around the world.

Whereas Pilates is relatively new, although it’s been around for nearly a century. Joseph Pilates founded Contrology in the early 1920’s which later became known as Pilates. In the early days it was mostly used for physical rehabilitation, to strengthen the core, improve posture, stabilise and align the spine and develop balance. To learn more about Joseph Pilates and his method click here

Mat vs. Equipment

Although Pilates has since moved to the mat, the method began by using large equipment such as the Reformer and Cadillac which you’ll find at PATS PILATES in Studio 2. The large apparatus use pulley systems with springs as resistance to assist the body in realigning, improving strength and flexibility whilst correcting inconsistencies in the body.

The equipment used in Yoga will usually assist with your asana’s on your mat i.e. blocks, cushions and belts which support the body in each pose/position.


This is the biggest difference between Pilates and Yoga. Yoga was created as a path to spiritual enlightenment, with its focus on breath control it encourages the mind and body to go into a meditative state. While Pilates is also described as a mind and body workout, it is more of a traditional exercise routine which excludes any spiritual aspects.

Method & Moves

The poses and exercises performed in a Pilates and Yoga class differ from the time spent holding them, repetition, positions and flow. Typically in Yoga the poses are held for longer building your stamina and working on endurance. Without the use of large equipment it allows the body to serve as its own resistance deepening the mind-body connection. Yoga generally ends with a guided meditation and savasana (relaxation).

Pilates follows 8 principles; concentration, breath, centring, control, precision, flowing movements, isolation and routine. Guided by these principles Pilates classes flow with precision and control, concentrating on alignment and core stability.

Both disciplines work with breath to assist with the movements.


Breathing Techniques – Yoga is known for being a great tool to relieve stress, the breathing exercises help to relax you. The breath in Pilates provided the muscles with the energy they need to exercise effectively.

Flexibility – Yoga poses stretch your muscles and increase your range of motion. With regular practice, they'll improve your flexibility. Pilates focuses on the balance between strengthening and stretching muscles, its what helps maintain physical integrity and alignment as one stretches a muscle, or increases the range of motion in a joint.

Strengthening – Pilates focuses on full body strengthening from the ‘core’, developing long, lean muscles that will help create a stronger inner and outer frame, this will support your everyday activities. Yoga can increase muscle tone and definition but because you're limited to using your own body weight, it may take a lot more skill, time, and determination.

Alleviate Pain – Both disciplines can aid with aches and pains such as back pain however Pilates is renowned for its rehabilitative techniques.

Tone – Pilates & Yoga both offer a full body workout which help to reshape the body. Pilates tends to gain quicker results with toning the muscles especially around the abdominal area, this results in inch loss around the waist, arms and legs.

Weight Loss – Although neither exercise discipline are high impact, if you are trying to lose weight you could try equipment Pilates which add the cardio and fitness element and will help to burn additional calories.


Pilates and Yoga both focus on breath, alignment, balance, strength and flexibility and both require you to be present and to use your entire body.

So, which one is for you? The best way to decide is to try both…

PATS PILATES have a new Hatha Yoga class starting on Monday 7 January at 1pm-2pm which will run every week (except bank holidays), suitable for all levels.

For information on the next 6 week Pilates Beginner Course at PATS click here

Ready to book a Pilates session?

To book a consultation, 1:1 Pilates session or Pilates class, click below

Book a Pilates Session


To register your interest and enquire about availability and times, please click below