Difference Between Pilates and Yoga

Yoga adherents will tell you to practice the discipline if you want to improve your mental, physical, and spiritual health, while Pilates adherents will tell you to do it if you want to be in shape. Both of these types of physical activity have been shown to improve health in general. Usually, it's up to individual taste to decide between them.

Pilates emphasizes core muscle strength, whereas yoga emphasizes flexibility, breathing, and meditation. Pilates utilizes equipment such as tiny weighted balls, giant training balls, discs, and a trapeze table whereas Yoga just needs a mat.

What is Pilates?

Joseph Pilates, who created the Pilates method of exercise in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, is credited with the name of the practice. Pilates started out as a kind of physical therapy performed in a dedicated studio. It has evolved to the point that it may be done in fitness facilities, physiotherapy clinics, and other public places. It's also a popular choice for those looking to tone their bodies by participating in a group workout session.

Principles and Exercises − There are six basic principles of Pilates. They are −

  • Concentration − Exercises are done with complete concentration on the entire body.

  • Control − Every movement is controlled and done consciously.

  • Center − Group of muscles in the center of the body becomes the focal point.

  • Flow  − The exercises are intended to flow within and into each other to build strength and stamina.

  • Precision and breathing − Concentrating on the correct movements are expected each time the exercises are done. Deep breathing, lateral breathing, and coordinating breathing techniques are followed.

What is Yoga?

In common parlance, "yoga" means "Hatha yoga." It has its roots in ancient India as part of the broader yoga philosophy, which also includes Raja Yoga (the yoga of mind control), Karma Yoga (the yoga of action), Jnana Yoga (the yoga of knowledge), Bhakti Yoga (the yoga of devotion), and Hatha Yoga (the yoga of asanas [postures] as a form of exercise). While yoga is not a religion, it does promote spirituality, meditation, and introspection.

Principles and Exercises − There are five basic principles of Yoga. They are −

Proper exercise − The asanas (exercises and postures) should be performed in a slow and relaxed manner.

Proper breathing − Proper breathing techniques release the energy (prana) to recharge the body. Emphasis is laid on the Pranayam breathing technique.

Proper relaxation − Physical, mental, and spiritual relaxation is important and is included in between asanas.

Proper diet − Eating with awareness

Positive thinking and meditation − Considered therapeutic and aims at uniting the body with mind and spirit and helping people find harmony and release stress.

Differences between Pilates and Yoga

The following table highlights the major differences between Pilates and Yoga−





Pilates, a physical fitness system that was developed in the early 20th century by Joseph Pilates focuses on the core postural muscles that help keep the body balanced and are essential to providing support for the spine.

Yoga is an ancient practice from northern India that focuses on physical as well as mental well-being which includes everything from physical posture and healthy diet to breathing, relaxation, and meditation skills.


Mind and body approach to exercise

Mind, body and spirit approach to exercise


Around 80 years ago

5000 years ago

Areas of focus

Mental concentration, breathing, and movement.

Kind to all beings, including ourselves, and search for balance in our lives and lifestyle.

Physical areas of focus

Concentrate on building core strength in the body and lengthening the spine.

Considered therapeutic and aims at uniting the body with mind and spirit and helps people find harmony and release stress.

Breathing & Concentration

Pilates instructs an individual to inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth.

Yoga practitioners are taught to inhale and exhale through the nose only.


Performance is on the mats as well as the pilates machines which help build a longer, leaner, and dancer physique.

The different styles are generally practiced in a group sitting on a yoga mat with the aid of a yoga instructor.

Bottom line

Pilates should be practiced if an individual wants an exercise that improves flexibility while toning muscles, especially abs.

Pilates should be practiced if an individual wants an exercise that improves flexibility while toning muscles, especially abs.


Yoga focuses on stretching, thus novices may find the postures (asanas) challenging at first, but as their bodies get more flexible over time, the positions become easier. Pilates may be less intimidating at first, but it still requires stamina and strength as you progress. While all you need for yoga is a mat, Pilates may be more expensive since you need other equipment.