Are Pilates and Yoga the same thing?

This is a question that I am asked fairly regularly and its always nice to be able to explain some of the differences between these two popular forms of exercise.

Whilst the pace of Pilates and Yoga can be considered similar, as are some of the benefits in terms of health and well being – the two methods are actually quite distinct from each other. Yoga by comparison has a much more of a spiritual grounding and is connected to Vedic knowledge and Hinduism. Whereas Pilates roots are much more grounded in human anatomy and physiology. The Pilates method was in fact created by just one man, Joseph Pilates, who originally called his method ‘Contrology’ and created it for the purposes of rehabilitation. In creating his method, some of the first people Joseph Pilates worked with were injured soldiers returning from war and later, ballet dancers. His aim was to strengthen the body and heal it from aches and pains, focusing greatly on developing core strength, optimum spinal health, correct breathing, joint health and strengthening muscle groups.

This means that the ‘goals’ of undertaking Pilates and Yoga are explained very differently and fundamentally this impacts how the exercises and their benefits are explained and approached.

One of the many other differences you may notice in attending a Yoga class versus a Pilates class are the varying ‘types’ of breathing. There are many different forms of breathing across the many varying styles of Yoga and each with their own explained benefit. In Pilates however, we focus on conscious breathing and breathing correctly. Thereby using our lungs to their full capacity and using our breath to support movement.

The holding of poses is another difference. In Yoga poses are held for a longer period of time, hence the need for a thinner mat that will give you better contact with the floor and aid balance. In Pilates however, whilst some elements of balance are included, more regularly it involves dynamic series of movements and so a thicker, more cushioned mat is preferable.

These are just some examples of the differences and both methods have a lot more to them than this, but the simple answer is no; Pilates and Yoga are not approached in the same way and fundamentally, are not the same thing.