Yoga vs. Pilates: A Comparison


Since Pilates and yoga have often been used in the same sentence, many people end up believing the two disciplines are one and the same.

While both share subtle similarities, not many are versed when it comes to the difference between yoga and Pilates.

If you want to explore what the essence of both disciplines are, discover their similarities, and find out the difference between yoga and Pilates, the following comparison should have you enlightened in no time:


Once fittingly called Contrology (the study of control), Pilates is also sometimes referred to as “moving meditation.”  This low-impact, effective, and gentle exercise system focuses on both body awareness and alignment and was created and introduced to the world by Joseph Pilates. Dedicated and consistent Pilates practice can help effectively sculpt muscles, enhance flexibility, and develop peerless core strength. It will also help practitioners achieve optimal posture while helping improve breathing and movement efficiency.

Loosely translated, the term yoga means “to conjoin” or “to yoke.” This holistic discipline is believed to have started in India and aims to unite the body, mind, as well as the spirit through meditation, movement, and breathing techniques. Yoga was believed to have been first introduced to the West in the early 19th century but it is believed to be thousands of years old.


Areas of Focus

Pilates exercises focus on the torso’s stabilizing muscles (the ones that support the spine), otherwise known as the “powerhouse.” Pilates workouts (on the mat or using an apparatus) emanates from the core. Both sides of the body are also used symmetrically in order to properly execute the movements. This will give the overused and dominant muscles a break and entail the underutilized and “weaker” muscles to participate resulting in a more balanced workout.

Yoga postures, also more commonly known as asanas are designed to strengthen, tone, and enhance flexibility. The exercises are also believed to promote blood flow to the body’s glands, tissues, and organs thereby keeping the body balanced and healthy. Classes usually progress from standing to seated poses. Twists, backends, inversions, warrior poses, and sun salutations are just some of the many poses you will encounter in yoga classes.

Key Principles

Pilates is based on six key principles. These principles enable the practitioner to execute the movements with maximum efficiency while reducing stress on the body.

  1. Concentration – This entails full attention to both the form and the execution of each exercise.
  2. Precision – In Pilates, every movement has a purpose so proper execution of each is considered crucial.
  3. Centering – Strengthening the “corset” muscles (this includes pelvis, abdominals, back, and buttocks) as well as the powerhouse is one of the main focus of Pilates.
  4. Breath – Proper execution and breathing techniques should always go hand-in-hand. This will result to overall coordination, enhanced lung capacity, and a stronger and better mind and body connection.
  5. Flow – Pilates movements are ideally carried out with ease and grace.
  6. Control – Pilates exercises entails uniting the mind with the body to economize movement. That means you will need to only use the muscles necessary in carrying out a task while the rest of your body relaxes.

While there are diverse yoga styles available today, yogi Swami Sivananda, a doctor from Malaysia has been given credit for codifying the “Five Principles of Yoga” known today. The five principles are believed to help enhance balance, flexibility, strength, and even facilitate the curing of illnesses. The five principles are the following:

  1. Saucha (proper diet)
  2. Asanas (proper exercise)
  3. Svasana (complete relaxation)
  4. Pranayama (correct breathing)
  5. Dhyana (positive thinking and meditation)