What are the differences between Yoga and Pilates?

Over the past few years, more and more people are discovering the benefits of physical training, stimulating the mind as well as the body. Mind-body awareness is naturally built into both types of movement techniques performed during Pilates and Yoga and there are some key points that make them almost synonymous.

Perhaps most obvious is the fact that both are very popular as a means of achieving physical and mental balance. Both are widespread in cultures from the East to the West, and their foundations have a versatility that appeals to people from all walks of life and ages. However, there are distinct differences between the similarities between the two disciplines.

In this article, we would be looking at the differences between Yoga and Pilates.

1. Origin

Yoga was developed thousands of years ago. This practice has grown and changed over the years and many experts add to and subtract from all of yoga. Yoga is more than just exercise. Yoga has a philosophy. Meditation, pranayama, chants, and mantras also play a big role in this practice.

Pilates was developed in 1883 by one man, Joseph Pilates. As a sickly child, Joseph promised himself that he would find a natural cure for his illness. As he grew older, he learned various forms of exercise, including yoga, martial arts, and gymnastics. He eventually developed the Pilates system and not only applied it to himself but also prescribed it to those he taught.

2. Aim/Objective


The main objective of yoga is to achieve enlightenment. The second goal is to unite the mind, body, and spirit. This is achieved through various asanas, breathing exercises, meditation, and diet.


The main objective of Pilates is generally health and vitality. Exercises, often performed in conjunction with breath control, are designed to strengthen, tone, and stretch to maintain overall body balance.

3. The Physical Exercises


The physical posture and practice of yoga vary greatly depending on the type of yoga being studied. Some forms, such as Hatha and Iyenger, use supports such as straps and blocks. For example, other types like Kundalini yoga, typically do not use props.

No matter the props, yoga is always done on a floor mat. Asana postures always use the body as resistance, extending the body and holding it in a unique way. The poses are intensified but often focus more on flexibility and stretching.


Pilates focuses on strengthening the core or abdominal muscles. It aims to teach the body new ways of movement to strengthen and tone underactive muscles through precise movement. Exercise encourages flexibility, but it’s all about strengthening your body.

Pilates is popular with dancers and athletes for its amazing ability to strengthen stretch and tone the entire body.


Despite the numerous similarities between Yoga and Pilates, the two methods share several common poses, such as cat/cow, plank, cobra (called swan in Pilates), and chaturanga (Pilates push-up). However, despite their similarities, Pilates and Yoga are completely different practices. Anyway, you don’t have to choose one or the other because it’s possible and probably more useful to practice both.

* Contact Reach Physiotherapy for a list of references used for this blog content.