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You Asked: How Do Yoga and Pilates Differ?

You're asking and I'm answering . . .

"Hey Fit,
I see that you teach both Pilates and yoga. People ask me what the difference is between the two and I don't really have a good answer. The only thing I do know is that you use machines in Pilates. Can you help me understand the differences and why people practice either?"

Great question. People ask me the differences between these two practices all the time and to see my answer


First let's review what yoga and Pilates have in common. Both are great forms of strength training, often strengthening muscles while they're lengthened in stretched position. Both practices will increase your flexibility, but yoga more so than Pilates. Breath and breathing patterns are central to both practices. Both are considered mind / body exercises since they both focus on that connection. However, yogic philosophy includes a strong spiritual aspect that is not present in the Pilates method at all.

Exercise wise, yoga is considerably more static than Pilates. In yoga, poses are generally held for a number of breaths, except the flowing vinyasa used to connect poses in Ashtanga as well as other forms of yoga too. Pilates focuses on torso stability, using the deep abs and pelvic floor – similar to the uddiyana and mula bandhas of yoga, while the limbs move three dimensionally in space. Pilates mat work requires no props or machinery, but a large repertory of exercises have been created for the Pilates machines, which are vastly more intricate than the props used in yoga. The machines use heavy springs to create resistance and are incredibly versatile; the machines take the mat work to different levels – providing support to make exercises easier or adding resistance to challenge the muscles more.

Yoga classes tend to be 90 minutes and Pilates mat classes are generally an hour and both are roughly the same price. I have found the two practices enrich each other greatly and the more anatomically specific elements taught in Pilates enhance the more abstract images used in yoga.

I sure do hope this helps. I think you should try a Pilates mat class to see what it is like and spring for a private Pilates session so you can check out the machines.


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