Yoga and Pilates are both forms of exercise that have been around for hundreds of years. They evolved into different styles, but the end goal is similar – they’re meant to work on your entire body rather than focus on one muscle group or a particular set of skills.

Pilates and yoga are often mistaken for each other. The two terms actually refer to different types of exercise. Pilates is a form of physical education that focuses on the body’s core while yoga is an ancient practice with spiritual and philosophical roots.

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If you only had thirty seconds:

I’d have a cookie jar full of pennies if I could collect a coin each time I overheard someone say it.

Yoga and Pilates are the same thing, have been said by my friends, gym patrons, and complete strangers in forums offering advise on the exercise regimen. The closeness in techniques has even led to the development of hybrid workouts like Yogalates and Yoga Pilates Flow.

But I can’t really blame them. Both yoga and Pilates are immensely popular and, at first sight, do seem rather similar. Both are touted to enhance superior strength, endurance, flexibility, and balance. It is all too easy to get lost in all the new fitness routines for a new you as we enter the New Year with the intention and resolve to improve our lifestyle, become more active, healthy, and fit.

But how is it that the Pilates technique created by the Westerner Joseph Pilates in the 1920s and the age-old yoga practice, which dates back at least 5000 years, are often confused?

To assist you in making an educated decision about your new lifestyle, I decided to investigate the similarities and differences between yoga and Pilates.

Comparability 1/10: Visual Image

Unexpectedly, calisthenics is the “father” of the physical positions seen in both Pilates and yoga as we know it today.

Despite having ancient origins, Mark Singleton, the author of the book Yoga Body: The Origins of Contemporary Posture Practice, claims that the modern variants of physical postures (asana) in yoga are only around 100 years old and are mostly influenced by Western European calisthenics. And that’s without even including the freshly developed forms of yoga, like Power Yoga, Core Flow, etc.

The Pilates workout program was also created about a century ago. The Pilates technique is said to have been influenced by the inventor Joseph Pilates’s love of yoga, tai chi, and calisthenics.

Yoga and Pilates are comparable in visual depiction because both disciplines use several essential physical postures, including the Swan/Cobra stance, Plank, Open Leg Balance, and Boat Pose, among others.

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1st Difference of 2/10: The Score

Despite having a similar origin for the physical postures, yoga and Pilates have quite distinct end goals.

Yoga was originally practiced to get the body ready for long periods of meditation. Yoga uses a variety of techniques, and is often regarded as the road to nirvana, joy, and happiness—the realization of one’s oneness with the cosmos. To achieve mental development and to balance the mind, body, and spirit, there is a physical component, also known as asana.

Different yoga practices may or may not include involve meditation, chanting, certain breathing methods, and hand gestures in addition to asana.

On the other hand, Pilates was developed for the post-war physical rehabilitation of troops. Above all things, it fosters physical development and bodily effectiveness. The practice’s only stated goal is to improve daily living by promoting good posture, a healthy spine, and bodily functioning.

Comparability 2: Muscle Engagement 3/10

Both yoga and pilates are inclusive exercises that are easy on the joints and suitable for beginners, older individuals, pregnant women, persons with prior injuries, and people with chronic diseases like arthritis.

As opposed to traditional strength training (such as working out in the gym), which works on activating fast-twitch muscle fibers used for quick bursts of strength and speed, the exercises typically concentrate on activating slow-twitch muscle fibers, which are responsible for endurance and longer performance.

Of course, this does not imply that yoga and Pilates are not physically taxing or difficult enough to increase muscular strength and endurance. It implies that the postures may be altered to meet your flexibility, fitness level, and objectives, whether they be strengthening, achieving body suppleness, or recovering from an injury.

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Difference No. 2: Style Variety

Compared to Pilates, the practice of yoga is significantly more varied. There are many different styles of yoga, so everyone may find a style that appeals to them. Styles range from Kundalini Yoga, which involves chanting and connecting with your body, to furious Vinyasa flow, which gets your blood pounding.

Yoga might be slow, rapid, hot, sweaty, require repeated moves every session, or flow in an entirely unexpected way each and every time. Due of its intensity and pace, certain yoga forms, like Ashtanga or Vinyasa, are not advised for total novices, those who have sustained injuries, or those who have cardiac conditions.

Contrarily, there aren’t any lessons in conventional Pilates that are expressly designed for the elderly or those who have ailments. The basic level that is accessible to everyone to more advanced, experienced and trained teachers may provide a modification for every posture based on your prior physical fitness and history of physical injuries.

Additionally, the class is more reliable. The workouts consist of sets of rhythmic, exact, solitary motions. The basic postures are done supine or laying on the side so often that you know what to anticipate from the practice and the setting, albeit they may vary in intensity and pace.

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The Reformer is perhaps the most well-known piece of Pilates apparatus. Image from Runwaypilates.

Comparability 3: Breath Involvement, 5/10

Body-breath connection is heavily emphasized in both yoga and pilates. Both disciplines revolve on proper breathing.

Difference 3: Breathing Method, 6/10

Different breathing methods are used in yoga and pilates for various goals.

Pilates calls for lateral breathing, often known as “ribcage breathing,” which entails the least amount of movement in the abdomen and delivers air to the lower lobes of the lungs. Always keep your abs and core muscles contracted. In Pilates, breathing supports and enhances the benefits of the postures, oxygenates the muscles, and enhances blood flow. Throughout the whole lesson, the breathing rhythm remains constant.

Yoga often contains a variety of breathing exercises called pranayama, unlike Pilates. Instead of using the ribcage to breathe, the belly is used. Breathing is mostly used to manage the flow of energy by directing it to the body’s tight and tense areas in order to assist them relax. Certain styles of yoga devote a certain portion of the session only to breathing exercises.

Similarity 4: Health Results: 7/10

Both Pilates and yoga have many health advantages: frequent practice will develop flexibility, muscular strength, and tone, reduce back pain, promote good posture, correct structural imbalances in the body, and much more.

Difference 4: Main Focus 8/10

Pilates may help you tone your muscles, increase your strength, and improve your flexibility, but its main goal is to strengthen your core, commonly known as the “Powerhouse.” The region between the lower ribs and the hip line is known as the Powerhouse. A healthy and strong spine, better posture, and better balance are all benefits of strengthening these muscles. Pilates exercises always start from the Powerhouse, or core, and are synchronized with the mind, soul, and breathing.

While yoga offers the same health advantages, it focuses mostly on joint flexibility, balance, and mental clarity. Whether you practice heated Bikram yoga or calming Restorative yoga, mindfulness is at the heart of the practice in both. Many yogis practice yoga not for a toned body or good looks but rather for stress reduction, relaxation, and a quest for improved overall health.

Comparability 5: Accessibility: 9/10

Yoga and Pilates both entail mat exercises and may be performed anytime, anyplace, and without any particular equipment. For your practice, you don’t even need a fitness mat if there is a patch of green grass nearby.

10/10 Variation 5: Extra Equipment

Pilates uses a variety of exercise tools when using props, from tiny, portable resistance bands, weights, and magic circles to enormous “machines” like the Reformer and Wunda chair. These are often used in advanced courses.

Yoga doesn’t need any special studio equipment, but it may be improved using a variety of modest props including straps, blocks, bolsters, and wheels. These can help you improve your yoga practice and adapt the poses for beginners.

Curious about the differences between yoga and gym training and which is better? See this article comparing yoga to the gym.

Which Exercise Should You Choose: Pilates or Yoga?

It is impossible to determine which method is better and more advantageous; it all relies on your tastes, objectives, and anticipated outcomes.

The classic slow-paced Hatha Yoga can improve flexibility, balance, and focus more quickly, but regular Pilates workouts will provide noticeable physical improvements and enhanced strength sooner.

On the other hand, Yin Yoga, which does not initially seek to increase your muscle tone, focuses on deep connective tissues and fascia to aid in a quicker rate of muscle recovery, flexibility, and will help you de-stress.

As a general guideline, choose Pilates if you’re looking for physical advantages like a strong core and greater strength. If you want to practice yoga for relaxation, stress reduction, and mind-body alignment, do it.

It is usually a good idea to check out a few Pilates sessions and various yoga styles to find what suits you best. Actually, many years ago, Pilates was what introduced me to yoga. I’ve always wanted to try yoga, but at first I felt it to be too daunting. Pilates offered me the self-assurance and the fundamentals of breathing, body alignment, and core strength I needed to begin the rewarding practice that would lead to mindfulness and improved mental health.

Yoga and Pilates are often confused with each other, but they are in fact two different things. Yoga is a practice that originated from India while Pilates is an exercise technique developed by Joseph H. Pilates in the early 20th century. Reference: pilates exercises.

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