What’s the difference between Yoga and Pilates?

by | clients, Exercise, Fitness Studio, injury prevention, Personal Training, Pilates, Private Studio, rehab, yoga

Is this Pilates or Yoga?  Cobra or Swan Dive?

Is this Pilates or Yoga?
Cobra or Swan Dive?

What’s the difference between Yoga and Pilates?

I must get asked this question at least once a week.  It seems that even though the 2 forms of exercise have been around for sometime they are still not fully understood.  So let me sum this up for you, in a nut shell with minimal waffle.


Yoga has been around for AGES, some can link it back to 3000BC.  A big focus of Yoga is the breathing which helps to calm your mind and therefore relax your body.  There are numerous different types of Yoga. You may have been to a class in the past and thought it was too slow or fast for you, please don’t be put off by one experience, try and find the right class for you.

  • Hatha yoga – traditional, typically slower in pace.
  • Iyengar – Holds postures for a longer time and uses lots of props to help to get you into deeper stretches
  • Ashtanga – faster pace class that flows through sun salutations to get to set postures.
  • Vinyasa flow – uses the breath to flow through different postures, similar to Ashtanga but not as structured.

There are also many other different forms of yoga, however the above are the most popular varieties.


Joseph Pilates 1883-1967 created a range of exercises that focused on correcting muscular imbalances, correcting posture, improving flexibility and coordination.  He believed that our “modern” lifestyle and inefficient breathing was the cause of our health problems.  Now we can see that Physio’s and health practitioners are recognising the benefits of his exercise system and are using it with clients to aid in rehabilitation.

Pilates focuses on switching on the muscles that need to work and releasing the muscles that are overworking and switching on when they shouldn’t be, therefore helping to correct faulty movement patterns and incorrect posture.  One of the biggest focuses is strengthening the trunk, making sure your abdominals, spinal musculature, shoulder and hip stabilisers are doing the right thing.

Benefits of Yoga and Pilates

In my opinion yoga is a great class for those that want to improve their flexibility and build overall strength whilst learning to breathe and relax the mind. Pilates is a great class for finding out your imbalances and correcting them, learning new movement patterns and strengthening your core.  I would highly recommend Beginner Pilates for rehab and advanced Pilates for those wanting to increase their strength.

So what is the difference between some of the postures? Let us use the photo above to explain this – In Pilates we focus more on shoulder, spine and hip placement ensuring the neck stays in a straight line with the rest of the spine, the abs are switched on to prevent overly hyperextending the lumbar spine, the shoulders stabilisers and back musculature are switching on and keeping the shoulders from rising up towards the ears or rounding forwards. In Yoga the focus would be on improving flexibility and strength whilst going beyond just physical benefits with a more spiritual practice by concentrating on breathing and meditation.

I hope this has helped to clear up the myth that they are pretty much the same, some postures are similar but with a different focus, whilst others are totally different.  If you would like more information on which class would suit you best then please get in touch or come and try out a class. Class timetable.

Let me know if you found this blog helpful or not.  Hopefully see you in a class soon.

#fitnessfaster @fitness_faster #yogavpilates #yoga #pilates #brightonfitness


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