Pilates V Yoga

What is the difference between Pilates and Yoga is a question we are asked frequently.

Here’s a bit of history and information about them both.


Pilates was founded in the 1920’s by Joseph Pilates during the World War I. Developed to help rehabilitate injured soldiers. He then went on to broaden the scope of Pilates to be able to help all different types of people strengthen their bodies.
Over several decades the Pilates method evolved and integrated current bio-mechanical thinking used by Physiotherapists and other movement specialists.
The exercise method focuses on strengthening and lengthening muscles in order to increase core strength, enhance flexibility, reduce back pain, improve posture and balance.

Exercises are usually performed on a mat, however equipment such as balls, rings, blocks and resistance bands can also be used.

Another Pilates method is Barre Pilates which is a mixture of ballet inspired exercises and Pilates performed using a bar and a mat. Barre derives from the Lotte Berk Method founded in London in 1959 by a dancer looking to keep fit whilst recovering from a back injury.

There are six key principles in Pilates:

  • Centring
  • Control
  • Precision
  • Concentration
  • Breathe
  • Flow

The Physical Benefits Include:

  • Increase in muscle strength and tone
  • Improves flexibility, balance and posture
  • Reduces back pain and other aches and pains

The Mental Benefits Include:

  • Reduces stress levels
  • Increases your ability to focus
  • Better mind-body connection
Through each exercise you focus on all of the above to perform small movements focusing on using deep core stabilising muscles as well as larger muscles.
Pilates is suitable for all individuals. Whether you are a complete beginner to Pilates or exercise in general, whether you are pre or postnatal, recovering from an injury, have medical conditions such as Arthritis, Osteoporosis, Back Pain, Sciatica or even if you are an athlete or dancer.
Pilates instructors teach lots of adaptations and progressions so you can work at the level that suits you.


Yoga originated in India over 5000 years ago. Translated from Sanskrit it means ‘to control’ or ‘unite’. While its origins are based on religion many Yoga classes today focus more on the mind, body and spirit connection.
The main thing I believe that differentiates Pilates and Yoga is spirituality.
Yoga classes focus on strengthening and lengthening muscles and mobilising joints to increase muscle strength, enhance flexibility and improve you posture and balance. As well as breathing and meditation.
Exercises are usually performed on a mat, sometimes introducing equipment like blocks, straps and balls.
They are sometimes performed like Pilates exercises with slow controlled small movements or by holding Yoga Poses to lengthen and strengthen muscles all whilst your focus is on your breathing.
At the end of a Yoga class there tends to be a breathing practice and some form of relaxation/meditative practice.

The Physical Benefits Include:

  • Increased flexibility and core strength
  • Improves mobility, posture and co-ordination
  • Reduces back pain and other aches and pains

The Mental Benefits Include:

  • Reduction in anxiety and stress levels
  • Improves sleep
  • Increases self confidence
Just like Pilates, Yoga is suitable for everyone of all ages and abilities. Yoga teachers also give out adaptations and progressions for the exercises so you can work at the level to suit you. Great for people wanting a workout that increases their mind, body and spiritual connection.

You tend to find some of the exercises and stretches can be similar in both Yoga and Pilates classes.

I believe they complement each other nicely and I personally implement them both into my own fitness routine!