Pilates Versus Yoga

Both excellent forms of exercise.  As a choice, it is personal preference.  There are similarities between these disciplines and some fundamental differences:


Pilates takes its name from Joseph Pilates (1880 – 1967) a German athlete and Personal Trainer. He helped World War I soldiers rehabilitate using equipment and also he worked with dancers to help them strengthen and relieve their aches and pains. Pilates is a resistance workout focusing on core muscle strength and spinal alignment.  It is often used in rehabilitation after injury or with conditions associated with back pain.

Yoga dates back over 5000 years to Northern India.  It combines physical, mental and emotional practices.


For both pilates and yoga, breath is key to help the muscles relax and to let any tension melt away. 

Pilates breathing is taken in through the nose and out through the mouth.  The rib cage opens out and up and a light engagement is maintained from the abdomen to help stabilize the spine before any exercise is undertaken.

The breathing in yoga is called Prana, the life force. Yoga practice is nothing without the breath.  Yoga uses the exhalation of the breath to allow further release into poses.


Pilates uses dynamic stretching which is when there are active controlled movements used to stretch muscles.

Yoga uses static stretching which requires postures to be held to strengthen certain muscle groups.


Both Pilates and yoga exercises are done on mats with no need for equipment.  Though they both often use equipment.  In pilates head pads are used to help set up correctly the position of the neck and head.  Weights, bands, rings, foam rollers and soft balls can be used to help with the resistance training and strengthening. 

In yoga, equipment such as a block or strap increases reach or provides support and assistance to open the body into poses more.

The Benefits

Both disciplines connect the mind with the body.

Pilates focuses on improving posture through alignment of the spine and strengthens the core muscles (abdominals).  It is often used for physical rehabilitation.  In addition, it improves overall muscle tone, flexibility and balance.

The practice of yoga is to achieve alignment of the mind, the body and the breath allowing all 3 to unite.  It is used more often for emotional and spiritual rehabilitation.