yoga vs pilatesYoga and Pilates – What are the differences?

Yoga and Pilates are both transformational practices. They feature focused movements that can facilitate positive changes in the mind, body and spirit. Oftentimes, they are placed in the same category. It is important to note that Pilates is a fitness workout while yoga is a discipline, or a much broader practice that involves not just physical but also mental and spiritual aspects as seen from its origin. However, Pilates also believes that the mind and body are connected. Let us try to explore their differences though it could be a tough thing to do since the two have different forms. Their distinctions can be determined by noting their origin, principles, workout and breathing techniques.


Yoga has been around some 5,000 years ago. It originated from India and has evolved into various types including Kripalu, Ashtanga, Vineyesa, Bikram and others. On the other hand, Pilates is a younger discipline; developed only in the first half of the 20th century by a Greek-German athlete named Joseph Pilates in the US.


Yoga literally means to yoke or to conjoin. It is rooted in Indian culture that connects the body, mind and spirit through breathing techniques, movement and meditation. There are five principles of yoga taught all over the world. These are Asanas or proper exercise, Pranayama or correct breathing, Saucha or proper diet, Dhyana or meditation and positive thinking and Savasana or complete relaxation. Yoga was originally used to move energy through the body in a way that leaves a person to be calm and meditate after class. However, some yoga classes today focus solely on the physical aspects that build strength, balance and flexibility.

Joseph Pilates introduced the study of control or Contrology as the method that would help people in developing strength in body and mind to accomplish things easily and live life to the fullest. Pilates is also called moving meditation, and is based on six principles such as centering, concentration, control, precision, breath and flow. The founder believes that coordination of the mind, body and spirit leads to complete control of the body.


The primary goal of yoga is for individuals to stay connected to breathe. It concentrates on increasing flexibility of the limbs and spine. In Pilates, what comes first is the precision in movement followed by its coordination to the breath. It focuses on building strength in the abdominal area then the symmetrical musculature and total flexibility. Most exercises in Pilates are done lying down either on the stomach, on the side or on the back. This aims to defy gravity and engage the abdomen to lift from the ground and lengthen muscles. In yoga, poses are mostly done standing, working with gravity from the earth to lengthen body away from the ground. However, there are different Yoga poses done while lying or sitting.

Breathing Patterns

Yoga typically practices ujjayi, a breathing pattern that is smooth and heat inducing, similar to the ocean. It also practices kapalabhati, which is rapid and produces greater internal heat. In Pilates, most exercises use a staccato-like breathing, which is similar to yoga’s kapalabhati.

Yoga and Pilates may share some similarities but taking aside their differences, both can make people healthier, more connected, more conscious of their well-being and generally, better individuals. To truly discover their differences, it would be best to try them both.