Yoga vs Pilates

As someone who teaches both yoga and Pilates, I often get asked about the differences between the two. I've created a chart to help clear up some of the confusion! Let me know what you think in the comments or use #novemberPilates.  



Thousands of years old


Less than 100 years old
Engages the pelvic floor and abdominals


Engages the pelvic floor and abdominals
Improves strength and flexibility


Improves strength and flexibility
Specific breathing pattern to assist with movement


Specific breathing pattern to assist with movement
Works big muscles groups


Focuses on smaller muscles
Includes a wide array of styles and activities and can be physical, mental or spiritual or a combination of all three – i.e. meditation, breathing exercises, chanting, singing, etc are all part of a yoga practice


Primarily a physical activity but does have a mental aspect through focus and use of breath
Many different styles and levels of intensity - huge variation from class to class, even within the same style of yoga


An amount of continuity and consistency from class to class
Practiced on a mat (can use props), bare feet


Practiced on a mat or reformer (can use props), bare feet or Pilates socks (with grip)
Moves from pose to pose and has an element of stillness – poses can either be held for a period of time or move fluidly from one to the next, like a dance


The same exercise or movement is repeated to strengthen or exhaust the muscles before moving to the next set of exercises
Shapes/poses can be made without engaging the correct muscles


Difficult to perform the movement correctly without engaging the correct muscles
Can be quite a strong practive and not always appropriate for those with injuries Can be an effective way to maintain strength and flexibility despite any injuries – can even help to rehabilitate when done correctly