Yoga Vs. Pilates: What’s The Difference and How to Choose the One for You!

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Yoga Vs. Pilates: What’s The Difference and How to Choose the One for You!

If you have visited the gym or a fitness center in hopes of tightening up your body, you have definitely heard of Yoga and Pilates. For beginners, the two workouts can seem extremely similar and they often are confused between them.


In order to help you distinguish between the two and pick out the workout that most suits you, we have put together this article. We will go through the origins of the two workouts, their benefits, the similarities and then their main differences as well as some helpful tips to make the decision.


Nobody knows the exact origins of Yoga. It’s widely believed that Yoga was originated from India and it has been around for over 3000 years. It is considered a sacred and spiritual tradition with a systematic practice that combines the 5 elements: physical exercise, relaxation, diet, proper breathing, positive thinking and meditation. Yoga practice consists of a series of low-intensity physical exercises, poses, breathing techniques, meditation and relaxation. The key elements include mindfulness and deep breathing. Holding various poses and flowing through a series of movements, a level of concentration is needed when completing this work out to get the best result.

The health benefits of Yoga include relieving stress and anxiety, toning your body, increasing flexibility and strength, reducing inflammation and chronic pain. It has been a popular fitness choice for many for a very long time, with tons of avid fans around the world. As society develops, more and more adults are facing an immense amount of stress. Hence, more and more people are starting their Yoga journey as a way to calm their minds and actively avoid stress.


Unlike Yoga, Pilates is a pretty modern workout. It has developed over a 100 year span, from the early 20th century, by Joseph Pilates. The workout back then was intended for wounded soldiers in World War I, as a form of rehabilitation. In 1923, Pilates was introduced in the United States for the first time. Since then, the workout has become increasingly popular spreading to high global status.

The main goal of Pilates is strengthening the body and the muscles with a big focus on core strength. When doing Pilates, you follow a series of movements targeted at one or multiple muscle groups of your body with many reps for each movement. The reps require you to utilize the stabilizing muscles in your back and core. The key benefits are sculpting your muscles, improving your posture and joint mobility, relieving stress and tension on the body.

The Similarities between Yoga & Pilates

Both Yoga and Pilates are low-impact, low-intensity workouts that utilizes bodyweight resistance; hence, they can both be practiced without any equipment. They both also require a high level of concentration. Sharing the element of deep breathing, you learn to open yourself from within and become more acutely aware of body movement. They help strengthen your muscles, reduce stress and tension and improves flexibility over time.

The differences between Yoga and Pilates

Now, let’s go into details about the differences between Yoga and Pilates:

1. The spiritual experience


This is the first and also biggest difference between Yoga and Pilates. The spiritual component is an indispensable part of Yoga. Yoga involves a lot of meditation during the workout, forming a spiritual connection with your surroundings, achieving spiritual enlightenment and elevating your mind. Meanwhile, Pilates does not provide any particular spiritual experience. Rather, it focuses more on building strength, muscles and toning up your body.  Perhaps if you are looking for a more peaceful experience, choose Yoga.

2. The style of breathing

As mentioned above, Yoga and Pilates share the same element of deep breathing. However, Pilates only has one style of breathing, which is the “rib-cage breathing” technique. This style of breathing involves holding the abdominal muscles tight while taking deep breaths in order to protect and stabilize the spine during the workout. Unlike Pilates, Yoga has many different styles of breathing that serves different purposes. The breathing technique changes according to the type of Yoga you do and the purpose of your session (meditation, relaxation or energy…). Finally, for Yoga, you both inhale and exhale through the nose while for Pilates, you inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth.

3. The end goal

Yoga is about working your mind and your entire body. It aims to build flexibility, balance, endurance and targets broad muscle groups. Yoga is very effective in creating a connection between the mind and body, stress relief and blood circulation. Meanwhile, the principle behind Pilates is that everything originates from the core. Pilates is mainly focused on strengthening the deep core and stabilizing muscles in your stomach and hips so that you can have better control of your body and movements.

4. The moves


When doing Yoga, you hold poses for a longer period of time than when you do in Pilates. In Yoga, you hold static poses for about at least 1 minute each. These poses shift with smooth transition, progressively stimulating different areas. For Pilates, you don’t have to hold poses. You do one move for a short amount of time with a few repetitions. After one move, you jump to the next with no particular transition period like those in Yoga.

If we are to talk about difficulty, for beginners, Yoga may seem hard due to a lack of flexibility. However as the movements are more slow and gradual, people can take time to adjust and relax into positions. Pilates on the other hand are more strenuous in terms of rapid movement.

How to choose the one for you

The truth is that you don’t really have to choose. You can do both Yoga and Pilates. Switching between them allows you to practice new moves/poses all the time. They complement each other well and build strength in different parts of the body. Training in both is very common for fitness professionals too. Just go for both if you are ready!

However, if you really are to choose. We have some following tips for you:

  • Consider your ability:

If you are completely new to fitness, you should go for Pilates first since the moves are quite easy to execute for beginners. Yoga poses require some levels of flexibility, that can evolve over time.

  • Consider your goal:

If you want to combat stress, depression or anxiety; Yoga is the better choice because it focuses a lot on the mind.

Pilates requires a lot of energy as an intense workout. Results from this workout show up faster than Yoga so if toning is your priority – go for this one.

Both Yoga and Pilates can help you lose weight. However, Yoga or Pilates alone won’t do the job. You also have to follow a healthy, balanced diet and do cardio training to burn fat to achieve good results.

  • Consider the current state of your body:

If you have any issues with posture you should try Pilates. It helps build strong core foundations and can help out injuries well with their repetitive movements. Futhermore, for those who have back issues or chronic back pain, you should avoid Yoga or consult with the instructor before joining the class. In case you are still unsure, just talk to a professional to get some advice.

In conclusion, both Yoga and Pilates are good for you. One is not better than the other and we hope now you know the difference. No matter what you choose, Yoga, Pilates or both, we wish you a lot of success with your new fitness journey!

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