What’s the Difference Between Pilates and Yoga?

pilates1A question that constantly gets asked by fitness newbies is the difference between yoga and Pilates and which to practice. It’s a common concern that we’re happy to shine some light upon because it is pretty simple to mix these too exercises up.

Both mind-body practices are great choices for strength training that build long, lean muscles. It doesn’t come as a shock to some that Joseph Pilates, the founder Pilates, looked to yoga for inspiration when creating his exercise method. No wonder why people mix them up!

Before you make your decision, we’ll help clear up any confusion about yoga and Pilates because there are a few differences:

The spiritual aspect

Yoga is known for its spiritual and meditative elements. Many contemporary forms opt to bring this portion to the mat. If the idea of chanting and finding your spiritual center interests you, then yoga is a good pick. If you prefer to leave that stuff out, Pilates is a better option as it is not part of the method.

The equipment

Props are a vital part of many exercises these days and with yoga and Pilates that is no different. The equipment used for yoga are usually blankets, blocks, or a strap to ease into poses. While Pilates uses many of the same items, a large portion of the moves executed require the use of machines, such as the Pilates reformer or Pilates Cadillac, which are vastly more intricate than the props used in yoga.


General yoga classes are usually around 75 to 90 minutes, while Pilates mat classes are generally an hour. While you’re getting a little more time in at yoga, both classes are roughly the same price.

Read up on some more information about each practice before making your choice:

Pilates is based on six principles which enable you to learn to move with maximum efficiency while minimizing stress on the body:

  1. Centering: Strengthening the powerhouse and “corset” muscles of the body, which include the abdominals, pelvis, buttocks and back.
  2. Concentration: Bringing one’s full attention to the form and execution of each exercise.
  3. Control: Engaging the mind to unite with the body to economize movement (i.e. learning to use only the muscles necessary to perform a task, while the rest of the body relaxes).
  4. Precision: Employing the notion that every movement has a purpose, resulting in a “less is more,” and “quality over quantity” philosophy. When a movement is performed well a few times, there is no need to do more.
  5. Breath: Moving in tandem with the breath, resulting in enhanced lung capacity, overall coordination and facilitating a stronger mind-body connection.
  6. Flow: Every movement in a Pilates exercise is performed with the grace and ease of a dancer.

These five principles of yoga include:

  1. Asanas (proper exercise)
  2. Pranayama (correct breathing)
  3. Saucha (proper diet)
  4. Dhyana (positive thinking and meditation)
  5. Savasana (complete relaxation)
Which do you prefer, yoga or Pilates? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook and Twitter: @LucilleRoberts

Catherine Mendez

Catherine Mendez is the Editorial Assistant at Lucille Roberts. With a B.A. in Journalism from Quinnipiac University, writing is her calling. A born New York City gal, Catherine is a social media lover and runner (when it’s warm out). A magazine hoarder, hopeFUL romantic, and avid list maker, she is looking to polish up her yoga skills. Catherine never parts with her iPhone so follow her: @cathjmendez

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