Many people often ask about the difference between Pilates and Yoga. As an instructor, it will be useful to have an elevator pitch when asked that question. At the end of the day, it’s not so much about pilates vs yoga. It all boils down to an individual’s preference. We are all different. You need to choose what works and feels best for you. The best thing is, you don’t have to choose and can practice both.
For me, I chose Pilates because I am not naturally flexible, and found Yoga really challenging in the past. However, with all the Pilates training, I’m sure I will be in a better position to give Yoga a go again.
There are numerous articles that you can find on this topic, and I think this one provides a good elevator pitch with three key differences, and I would add a fourth: the breathing.
The Pilates Elevator Pitch
Both Pilates and Yoga offer flexibility, strength, control and endurance. The biggest different between the two is the emphasis on the spiritual component in the classes. Pilates do not offer an obvious spiritual experience. The other differences include the origin, structure of the class and breathing.
Difference No 1: Origin
The practice of yoga originated in India more than 5,000 years ago. It has evolved over the centuries and cultures into many different types of yoga.
Pilates is a much younger practice, beginning in the mid 20th century by Joseph Pilates who created the exercises as a form of rehabilitation and strengthening.
Difference No 2: Spirituality – Mind, Body and Spirit
Both yoga and Pilates bring an understanding that the mind and body are connected. However, yoga adds an additional element to the mix – the spirit. Meditation and chanting are introduced into a yoga class as well.
Pilates focuses on creating an understanding that the mind and body are connected, and how this can help in everyday life.
Difference No 3: Structure
Many yoga classes are flexible in routine. Postures, sequences and variations can be combined into ten thousands of routines to create a class. In Yoga, several movements are performed on an exercise mat, and the weight of the body is used as a resistance for the exercise.
Pilates classes are a little more structured, and you will more likely know what to expect when you walk into a Pilates class. In addition to mat work, there can be different apparatus and exercise machines involved. Pilates work out the entire body in addition to the mind.
Difference No 4: Breathing
Yoga breathing allows the abdominal cavity to expand and is often called “belly breathing”.
In Pilates, the movements are often done against resistance, with the abs pulled in and up to support the spine. Breathing is concentrated in the rib cage, so the chest, sides and back expand on inhalation, but the waist does not, referred to as “lateral breathing”.