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Pilates vs Yoga

Let me count the ways.... They are beautifully intersected, but also they dance to slightly different tunes. I counted 20 ways they are similar.

As a qualified and experienced teacher/practitioners of both wonderful modulates I have a lot to say on this subject! They both share so much, but they divert when Yoga sees the person as a whole and part of everything and Pilates keeps a focused view on the body. Pilates acknowledges the mind-body connection and the inner confidence and strength it stirs in it's students and practitioners but stops short there.

Both Yoga* and Pilates share:

  1. Movement is coordinated with the breath. And, that the breath piece is vital to the practice.

  2. Concentration. Which can led to meditation. Both are meditation through movement connected with the breath. Another word, mindfulness.

  3. Alignment

  4. Flow

  5. Can be done during pregnancy and postpartum

  6. Focus on the Spine - although Yoga focuses more on the back body, and Pilates focuses on the front body (arguably). Joseph Pilates is quoted as "you are only as young as your spine". And, the yogis have a whole chakra and Nadi system along the spine.

  7. Relaxation and Restoration, stress reduction

  8. So many shapes!! Even the sun salutions are mirrored in Joe's push up flow. Child's pose, lunges, squats, bridging.... and so many more!

  9. Both integrate mind, body and spirit to create a life of balance

  10. Low impact

  11. Can be a gateway to the other practice - some Pilates folks find it easier to find the breath in a Pilates practice than a yoga, but then they start to realize Yoga is a much bigger study. And, Yoga folks can enjoy the precision of Pilates, and it's strengthening sprinkles into their vinyasa flows.

  12. Can be done well into your golden/silver years

  13. Both can be done everyday or be an effective as once a week to alleviate chronic pain.

  14. Accessible to all. Can be done with no props or mat. Or can get fancy. Both have modifications for everyones unique needs.

  15. I'm convinced because of both modalities focus on breath both hold a key to longevity and youth.

  16. Compliment other activities in your life.

  17. Strength

  18. Both are deep healers.

  19. Both have the power to transform lives.

  20. Magic


Pilates principles are: Breath, Concentration, Control, Centering (all movement comes from the core), Precision, Balanced Muscle Development, Rhythm and Flow, Whole Body Movement, and Relaxation

Like Yoga, there are different schools of thought. I go into some of that in a blog post about why I love Pilates. Not as many branches in the Pilates tree but there are some family differences.

Pilates is NOT just stretching. That sentence would come out a lot at gyms. Taking a Pilates class on their rest days and kind of side eye me the following day when they were more tender because of their Pilates reformer workout! Hahahaha. But, seriously, Pilates is a ton of strength training. Which makes it great for rehab work. It's one of the ways Pilates got it's reputation. Joseph Pilates (the namesake and creative mind behind Pilates) was made famous for rehabilitating NY ballerinas in the late 1920s.

Pilates has an admirable knowledge of the body. It was what drew me to it. The alignment. The queuing to get deep stabilizing muscles to work together. Pilates is also how I recovered from two births without a hitch. It's a strong workout! I love the saying "If it's easy, it's not Pilates." You have to be mindful to the practice, breath, and movement. It makes my body so much stronger.


Yoga's 8 Limbs framework: Universal ethical principals and Rules of personal conduct (Yamas/Niyamas), yoga postures (asana), breathing techniques (pranayama), control of the senses (pratyahara), concentration of the mind (dharana), meditation (dhyana), the infinite (samadhi)

Yoga has so many schools of study and philosophy. All rooted in ancient texts more than 5000 years old. It's a whole system to life. If you study or practice with me, you'll know I mention Ayurveda often which is also a branch of this incredible ancient wisdom. I tend to be guided by the Iyengar folks who branch into Viniyoga and Yoga Therapy folks. I also studied with Buddhist meditation teachers. Buddha was a yogi.

I find Yoga has given me and others, tools for life. How to listen to our bodies to inform what's going on in the mind and heart and vs a versa. How to manage stress and anxiety, the uncertainty and unpredictable nature of life. There's a lot of self study and encouragement to be curious. As well as having tools and knowledge to strengthen my back and body. Yoga makes my whole being stronger.


Although I do not teach a fusion class, and I tend to shy away from that idea, I acknowledge when I teach a private session the lines get blurred. Some clients are more Pilates peeps, and some clients are more gentle yogini souls. Some like to be more grounded in science and study (Pilates) and some like to explore the more energetic qualities of our bodies (yogis). There is mindfulness in both. I think it's the tone of the class that differentiates them the most. A Pilates can be done with music loud, sweaty, and a workout and still be Pilates. Yoga, in my strong opinion, should be quiet (silent or with instrumental music), play with stillness and movement that flows, without mirrors and ego, and offers for a student to just be. When I was teaching group classes my all time favorite Pilates class to teach was the Restore class. Which was yoga inspired shapes, on Pilates equipment, to spa music, and lots of holds with multiple breaths in each. And it was interesting, when a Pilates teacher subbed that class, with a list of what shapes I do, and for how long, it had a totally different vibe than "Emily's spa class". There's just a different energy in Pilates Land and Yoga Land. And, I love and adore them both so much.

Note on Pictures: Are they practicing yoga or Pilates? :)

Note: I'm a 500hr-E Yoga teacher, and a certified Comprehensive Pilates Instructor, teaching for over 10 years!

*Yoga with a capital "Y" is used to depict more of a classical sense of Yoga as seeing the person as a whole and goes beyond just asana (the physical practice or shapes, movement), and yoga used with a lower case "y" is to deviate yoga as asana and what mainstream may assume.


Balanced Body Pilates manuals

Yoga the Iyengar Way by Silva, Mira and Shyam Mehta

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