Pilates vs Yoga: What’s The Difference?

Pilates vs Yoga: What’s The Difference?

Are you looking for low impact exercises that can aid recovery and prevent future injuries?

Do you know the difference between low impact exercises?

Have you already worked out which one will be most beneficial to you? 

Let us help you out.

Pilates and yoga classes could be for you. 

But how would you know?

It’s a good question and we’ll get to answering that.

You could join over 45 million people in the US who are already doing yoga and pilates.

Both exercises are considered fairly similar, which they are to an extent and for someone who has never done either of them or to the untrained eye it’s easy to confuse the two.

However, in practice Pilates and yoga are very different, from their origins to how they can benefit your body.

One of the biggest differences you’ll find is yoga’s emphasis on spirituality, the core benefits of yoga are its positive impact on both the body and the mind, probably because yoga and its spiritual roots originated from ancient India; it is believed to be over 5000 years old.

Pilates, on the other hand, was created in the 20th century with purely the physical aspect in mind, so in comparison to Yoga, Pilates is relatively new.

Joseph Pilates created the exercise as a result of people in the late 19th century realizing that physical exercise could improve their health. 

Yoga and Pilates are not a million miles apart, they share some similarities. Such as, they have numerous health benefits, from reducing stress and working on your flexibility, to endurance and control of the body as well as the breathing techniques that both exercises promote, mean that they’re usually talked about as closely related.

You might be asking, “what’s better for me Yoga or Pilates?”

Let us break it down for you.

More Blogs From Intecore:
What Is Sciatica And How Can I Get Relief?
How Physical Therapy Can Help You Pre- & Post-Surgery
What Is Middle Back Pain A Symptom Of?

When To Know Which One To Use 

Whether you choose pilates or yoga, it’s important to know that both can be done with little, to no equipment and they are both great forms of exercise for people at any point of the fitness spectrum.

Whether you’re a fitness fanatic or brand new to routine exercise, you will definitely be able to benefit from yoga or pilates.

If you’re a little uncomfortable with exercising as part of a group, then that’s no issue at all.

Pilates and yoga are one of the few exercises you can do in the comfort of your own home, just make sure you have plenty of space.



Pilates is usually recommended for people who are used to fairly regular exercise.

This is because it is arguably more challenging than yoga as it looks to build and develop strength in your core.

Pilates is hugely advantageous when you are recovering from physical injuries, so much so that many professional athletes will use pilates on their road to recovery.

Pilates has six key principles:

  • Precision
  • Fluidity
  • Breath
  • Control
  • Concentration
  • Centering

Your instructor’s key focus will be to develop your strength, flexibility, and balance.

One of the key differences you will see is that Pilates’ main aim is to enhance your core strength.

If you’re someone who enjoys a more structured workout without too much cardio, pilates could be the right choice for you. 

Unlike yoga, where you will hold a position, during Pilates you will adopt a position and challenge your core and balance whilst moving either your arms or legs. All this is still done whilst maintaining the original position.

It’s not all about physical improvement though – Pilates might not focus much on the spiritual side but it still aims to improve your overall mental well-being and there are many therapeutic rewards to be had from Pilates. For this reason, it’s no wonder then that doctors recommend it.

Pilates is a great component when added to traditional physical therapy methods to get you back to full fitness. 



It’s no surprise that yoga is currently the more popular of the two, with over 30 million people in the US taking part daily.

The main benefit of yoga is to improve overall health and wellness.

Oftentimes, yoga is a stepping stone to more strenuous exercises. It’s a great way to build up your core strength and it’s doable for all members of the family, no matter their age or ability.

On the other hand, the physical impact of pilates usually depends on your personal fitness level, if you’re able and fit enough then you can explore the more extreme side of the exercise. 

Finding a class that suits you is extremely important and will have a bearing on your enjoyment of the activity. To be prepared for a yoga class, you should know that your instructor will take your mind and your body on a spiritual journey. Yoga will move from position to position in a fluid motion instead of challenging the initial pose, like an activity you would associate with Pilates. 

Overall, yoga utilizes more body positions and consists of more exercises from a standing start whilst controlling the transition from standing to sitting and this may be why yoga has more of a reputation for preventing injuries and maintaining wellness. 

You may not realize it at first, but some of the exercises from your yoga class are useful in your everyday life. The more of these movements that you implement in your day-to-day life, the less generalized pain and movement issues that you should experience.

Yoga can be particularly beneficial for those who live an active lifestyle, especially those who participate in high endurance exercises. In fact, many professional sports teams incorporate yoga into their weekly training sessions due to its ability to prevent injuries. 

Yoga obviously isn’t going to be the barrier that stops you from getting injured, what it does do, however, is reduce the risk of straining or pulling muscles. 

High-level athletes have been using yoga to recover quicker from games as well as gain a mental edge from its spiritual side.

Benefits Of Pilates & Yoga 

Benefits Of Pilates & Yoga 

Like any form of exercise, you’re going to start seeing the benefits of pilates and yoga in a relatively short space of time. 

Pilates Benefits

Pilates focuses on improving your core strength, meaning it can be beneficial for building muscle toning, increased flexibility, and body control. 

As well as its muscle-building properties, pilates is also known to improve your posture and can reduce your back pain, and thanks to Pilates’ full body focus, the exercises can help to realign your posture, stabilize your back and reduce any ongoing discomfort.

Despite the many benefits of the activity, one of the most important is aiding with recovery. That’s not to say after one session you’ll be running a marathon, but a few classes should knock a few weeks off your whole recovery time.

The benefits don’t stop there, regular pilates can also help to improve your mental health greatly.

Pilates aims to improve your mental health by reducing stress, teaching key breathing techniques and full body awareness.

Due to this mental focus, pilates can also improve your cognitive functioning, making you more motivated to do further activities.

Yoga Benefits

Yoga is great for overall well-being, it enhances your whole body and prevents you from picking up niggling muscle injuries.

However, one of yoga’s main focuses is on its spiritual side and how each class can take you on a journey within yourself because yoga helps to connect the mind and body to relieve stress. The second most common reason why the average American would take up yoga is to reduce stress; yoga has built-in stress-reducing qualities.

Key Differences Between Pilates and Yoga

The key differences become evident within the classes when looking at the physical side of yoga. This is just a small part of the actual class and from the start of your very first class, you are taught meditation and breathing techniques.

These mindfulness techniques are known to improve tension headaches and improve your sleep, both the time it takes to fall asleep and the quality of your sleep.

Stress relief is only the second most common reason for picking up yoga, so what’s number one?

The most popular reason for people doing yoga is to increase flexibility.

Yoga is particularly helpful for improving flexibility and balance in those over 65 as one of the natural impacts of aging is reduced flexibility.

This is vital for enhancing your everyday life, particularly if you are someone with weak balance. It can help you with simple everyday tasks like picking things up off the floor or up from a shelf. 

As well as helping the elderly yoga is being used more and more within sports environments to prevent regular muscle injuries.

Who Can Do Pilates & Yoga?

Who Can Do Pilates & Yoga

Is it any surprise to learn that the vast majority of people can benefit from Pilates and Yoga?

You don’t need to spend a fortune on them either as they can both be done at home. However, like any physical activity, you have to be cautious and know whether or not it’s right for you. As with any exercise you need to be cautious about how extreme you take the workout; being over-enthusiastic or trying something that’s too challenging can cause injuries. 

If you are new to either pilates or yoga it’s best to start with an experienced instructor as they can guide you through the basic principles and get an understanding of your strengths and where you need to improve. 

However, if you are just starting out and especially if exercise is relatively new to you, yoga might be the best starting point, because It is slightly less strenuous while still able to give you a full body workout.

Make sure to engage in yoga and pilates safely. Serious injuries from either are rare, but you can often pick up strains and sprains from pushing yourself too hard.  

Serious injuries will only occur if you are doing the exercises incorrectly which may lead to excessive strains – on the back for example.  

In reality, as long as you are active enough and can do some low-impact exercises without it being a risk to your health, pilates or yoga would be a fit for you.

How Can We Help You?

How Can We Help You with yoga and pilates

When considering whether Pilates or yoga is for you, it’s always important to understand why you want to do it.

For instance, if you’re looking for something a little more relaxing that looks after you in the long term, yoga classes might be for you. 

Yoga is typically better for your overall health and will hopefully prevent any minor muscle injuries. Not only that but yoga has the ability to elevate your mindset into a more positive and tranquil place. It really is for everyone, imagine you’re a sportsperson who is constantly getting minor muscle injuries. This could have a major impact on your sporting career and yoga could be key to reducing your time out of the game. 

Pilates is much more beneficial for you if you are looking to overcome a preexisting injury. 

It focuses more on building your strength and improving your core. It can also drastically improve your recovery time and can be easily aided with physical therapy.

Our staff are committed to providing the highest quality physical therapy care for our patients – and that means you!

If you’re considering either pilates or yoga and have more questions, get in contact today and let our professionals give you the answers that you’re looking for.

Why not contact us now and find out how we can help you?

Andrew Vertson