The Core Differences between Yoga and Pilates

Although a lot of people mistake one for the other since there are a lot of similarities between the two, Pilates and Yoga are fundamentally different with each other.

The following five factors explain their obvious distinctions.

#1 Guiding Principles

Pilates abides by six principles namely concentration, control, centering, precision, flow and breath. Yoga on the other hand only has five namely proper diet, proper exercise, positive thinking & meditation, complete relaxation and correct breathing. As implied, there is only one common principle between the two which is breathing.

#2 Duration of Execution for each Pose

At the most fundamental level, the poses in yoga are held in place for a much longer time compared to Pilates. This difference is one reason why people who have experienced both exercises refer to the latter as a fast-paced version of the former.

#3 Breathing Patterns

Pilates is performed using a slow, deep and controlled diaphragmatic breathing pattern. Yoga uses a rapid breathing pattern especially in its asana type. In addition to this, the breathing cycle of a Pilates exercise involves inhaling air through the nose and exhaling it through the mouth. In yoga, breathing through the nose is emphasized.

#4 Meditation Element

Another major difference between the two is that meditation is often used for most yoga sessions as part of the regular program. This is paired with chants to supposedly maximize concentration. However, Pilates does not include such activity in its sessions. Instead, it uses a form of mental concentration when executing the exercise to ensure that every movement is controlled and precise as possible.

#5 Origins of the Poses

Most of the yoga poses are executed from a seated position usually after a self-meditation segment. That would include seated forward bends, bow poses and twists. In Pilates, most poses come from a lying position or on one’s side. There are standing poses for both but Pilates’ emphasis is aligning the spine while yoga aims to extend the body.

Which exercise is right for you?

This depends a lot on your physical condition, time and needs. If you want a program that focuses on the spiritual and mental healing side, yoga would be a better choice. However, if you are looking for a way to strengthen your body with a slow, less intense workout without pain, then go with Pilates.

As seen from the differences above, it should be no wonder why some people do both. They have their own benefits and will always be a good addition to your exercise routine. Try each class first and choose which one you are more comfortable with.


Want long lean muscles and a posture that exudes confidence and happiness? Pilates is the answer and The Pilates Fitness Guide shows you how to get started in this rapidly growing fitness trend. You can do Pilates in your home, in a studio, or both, and you don’t need fancy equipment to get the benefits of this proven method. Learn how to get started now.

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