How Pilates and Yoga are Similar (and Different)

yoga pose

A question frequented asked by aspiring health-conscious yogis and yoginis is, "What work incorporates pilates and yoga?" Though there are differences between the two practices, some fundamental practices appear to keep them in close relation to one another. Read on to learn more about the similarities and differences of these two wonderful disciplines.

What Work Incorporates Pilates and Yoga?

That's a great question. The work incorporating both yoga and pilates involves a number of easily listed similarities:

  • Both disciplines place some kind of focus on breathing during practice.
  • Both engage in wonderful methods to improve bodily strength, flexibility, balance, and overall athletic performance.
  • Both practices require and cause the athlete to develop a heightened sense of body-awareness.
  • Both practices place a focus on exercises that incorporate both strengthening and stretching simultaneously.
  • Both yoga and pilates bring about the toning and sculpting one's physique.

However, there are some notable differences that are recognized by participants and teachers of both pilates and yoga alike.

Differences between Yoga and Pilates

While both pilates and yoga are accredited with numerous benefits to one's health and fitness, there are some distinguishing traits that separate the two.


Yoga is a discipline that has been carried out by committed yogis and yoginis for thousands of years. The art of yoga is rooted in a holistic tradition of uniting one's mind, body, and spirit. Overall wellness and health is at the heart of every branch of yoga. This includes wellness of both the inner being and his or her physical encapsulation. The breathing techniques for nearly all yoga practices are paramount during exercises. Yogis and yoginis must engage in various styles of breathing depending on the posture and intended outcome of that posture. Some asanas require an intensely deep and throaty kind of breathing, whereas other postures place great importance on quick exhalation. Breathing techniques often place emphasis on ascending and descending through the belly. Teachers of yoga are well versed in the varied breathing methods required for the specific branch of yoga they instruct. All yoga postures flow in conjunction with breath in one way or another. Additionally, yoga encompasses steady fixed postures that are designed to stretch and strengthen while expressing the energy of various chakras. Mental and inner calm is one of the intended outcomes when performing the various asanas.


Pilates is a relatively newer practice. Created by a man named Joseph Pilates, the exercises that contribute to an overall routine were inspired by various yoga asanas. However, pilates has been in existence for less than a century making it a much younger alternative to the yoga traditions. Breathing within the pilates workout still carries importance, however the aim and style of breathing is somewhat different. When executing breathing techniques, students are encouraged to stay in continual connection to their center, their core. Breathing is meant to be expressed upward through the back and following along the spine rather than through one's belly. With a main focus on strengthening the core of the body, pilates places less weight on the exercise for spiritual enlightenment and meditation. Poses and postures in pilates are not usually fixed; rather they are part of slow and controlled movements that bring about heightened strength and muscle tone. Additionally, lengthening of one's spine is a major goal during pilates workouts.

Which Discipline Is for Me?

Now that you have a better understanding of what work incorporates pilates and yoga, you can start considering which discipline appeals to you more. Both pilates and yoga offer great benefits and yield pleasing results. Choosing between the two simply depends on your personal objectives. However, it is not uncommon for people to opt for both! Fitting alternating training sessions within your exercise and meditation schedule is achievable, especially with the rise of combination courses that have become more popular in various gyms today. Visit your local fitness center to inquire about classes that offer a combo of pilates and yoga.

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How Pilates and Yoga are Similar (and Different)