Yoga vs. Pilates

Yoga and pilates seem to have stolen the limelight in the fitness world of late and as huge fans (and instructors!) ourselves, we wanted to chat about the difference between yoga & pilates, what you can expect from a class and which practice is best suited for you to get those good vibrations!




What is the difference?

Pilates: In Joseph Pilates’ words, the pilates method “develops the body uniformly, corrects wrong postures, restores physical vitality, invigorates the mind, and elevates the spirit”. Pilates is centred around your core, with each and every exercise requiring engagement of your abs to some extent. You work multiple muscle groups with the overall intention of strengthening, lengthening and increasing flexibility. There is also a strong focus on postural alignment, working off the natural curves of the spine for a balanced and aligned body.


Yoga: Yoga is an ancient healing practice that encompasses the body, mind and spirit in one. Yoga is largely about connecting breath to movement and creating sequences designed to open the body up, to create space and loosen sticky parts of the body by saturating them with free flowing breath and movement. Yoga alone varies greatly depending on what ‘style’ you choose to practice. It can be very slow and deep or a much faster pace with higher intensity. It requires an open mind and a centre of balance to allow you to create lasting change in your body and mind.



What is the origin?

Pilates: Pilates was founded by Joseph Pilates in the mid-20th century after a childhood of suffering from asthma and a sunken chest. Originally, Joseph Pilates developed a series of mat exercises designed to build ab strength and body control. From here, he built various pieces of equipment to enhance the results of each exercise with the idea that the equipment was replacing himself as a spotter.


Yoga: Yoga is an extremely ancient practice from India. It was really only brought to the West in the late 1950s and women were actually only allowed to practice after hundreds of years of it being a male-dominated practice, although that’s hard to believe looking at today’s modern classes! Traditional yoga was designed to help the body sit in meditation more easily for longer periods of time.



What can you expect from a class?

Pilates: Pilates classes are renowned for that intense burny feeling in the isolated muscles you are working, a feeling that you have perhaps never experienced! You will be strengthening and stretching, rotating from lying to sitting to kneeling positions, and activating your mind as you move through the exercises to increase awareness of your body. A huge part of our role as instructors is to cue certain parts of your body throughout each exercise that will ultimately enhance how you walk, sit and just generally live day-to-day.


Yoga: Every single class you go to in Yoga will be very different. This depends on the instructor but also on the style of yoga. So it’s important to check out which ‘style’ suits you first. There are countless ‘styles’ including hatha, yin, restorative, power, hot, bikram, ashtanga, and more. In a regular ‘Hatha’ class, you can expect to come into a room and first sit in a quiet meditation to settle your mind, with the instructor guiding you through an intention setting process (which isn’t scary as it may sound to some! This is to allow you to explore a little deeper than just the physical to ensure you get the most out of your practice). You’ll then work through a series of poses (Asanas) to build heat; strengthening and opening the body.


How can you expect to feel after a class?

Pilates: You will walk out of a pilates class feeling really well worked and you may have even worked up a bit of a sweat. You are likely to experience some DOMs in the following couple of days. This is a great thing! The more you practice pilates, the stronger you become and you really notice the difference in your body as well. These positive changes happen surprisingly quickly!


Yoga: Often called the ‘Post-Yoga Glow’, you’ll hopefully leave a yoga class feeling more grounded, less stressed, energized and at peace within yourself. It really depends on yourself and the frame of mind you take in with you… if you’re open to it, it may even change your life!



Which one is right for you?

Pilates: If you’re looking for an hour out of your day to connect your mind solely to your body, pilates is for you. You can take your mind off everything else to focus on your exercise, ultimately working towards a lean, strong and fit body.


Yoga: If you’re looking to feel more grounded, less stressed in your mind and increase flexibility and strength in your body, yoga will do it for you! There’s a misconception that yoga is all breathing and chanting; but hopefully more people will see that the ancient yogis had it right – it will allow you to connect with your greater purpose and to feel alive in mind and body.


What’s your preferred way of moving your body out of yoga and pilates? Let us know in the comments below xo

Images: @pilatesfitboutique, @kathrynbudig