The confusion of Pilates vs Yoga ends at the way both the low impact workout regimes reach their goal of overall fitness and development. Read on to know more

When we think of workout, we are spoilt for choice! Pilates vs yoga can be a debate that many of us face. While both are low impact workout regimes, the areas that they focus, and the way they do it, are very different. Yoga is all about becoming flexible, and focusses on broad muscle groups; while Pilates is about core strength and muscle toning. Yoga is more free-flowing, and focusses on meditation and breathing techniques as well, while Pilates is all about body awareness and control.

What is Yoga?

Yoga is a practice with a history of around 3,000 years. It had its origin in Buddhism. It has five pillars – breathing, diet, exercise, meditation, and relaxation. Through these five pillars, you can reach the peak of your spiritual, physical as well as mental health. “Yoga is a holistic practice that focuses on harmonizing the mind, body, and spirit. Yoga is a set of different physical, mental, and spiritual practices aimed at attaining tranquillity and harmony within oneself,” says physiotherapist Dr Thejaswi G.

What does Yoga focus on?

Yoga includes poses (asanas), breathing exercises (pranayama), meditation, and moral disciplines. “While exercise usually focuses on physical fitness and strength, yoga goes beyond just the body, also incorporating breathing, mindfulness, and spirituality. In one instance, you might lift weights or do some running in order to become stronger or fitter while in another you would have to assume positions that stretch as well as strengthen your body called ‘asanas’, besides doing breathing exercises alongside meditation to achieve inner peace’,” explains Dr Thejaswi.

A study published in International Journal of Preventive Medicine saw how women who practiced Hatha Yoga for 12 consecutive sessions, over four weeks, experienced less stress, depression as well as anxiety.

What is Pilates?

Pilates was started after World War 1 by Joseph Pilates, as a way to rehabilitate the wounded soldiers. Pilate movements aim to strengthen and tone the body while increasing the flexibility and agility. Pilates is an exercise that can make people feel better, regardless of their age or level of physical fitness, when they move through everyday tasks with greater ease.

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What does Pilates focus on?

Pilates focusses on improving the quality of life as it lowers pain, according to a study published in Bulletin of Faculty of Physical Therapy. Precise movements are performed to improve posture, balance and core strength in Pilates workouts. “These movements can involve using equipment like Pilates rings or simply one’s own body. The secret behind this exercise technique lies in controlling both our movements and our breathing to optimal benefit,” explains Dr Thejaswi.

Yoga vs pilates: What are the similarities

There are some similarities between the two workout regimes.

  • They both promote a healthy lifestyle, but they vary in terms of approach towards exercise.
  • Both these workout forms need very little equipment, just a mat and maybe a ring, and you may be good to go.
  • Breathing is a focus point in both the regimes. They both need deep breaths to be taken from the belly
  • Both focus on mental health as well.

Yoga vs pilates: What is the difference?

The main difference lies in the focus and practice of these two disciplines.

  • Stretching, flexibility, and relaxation are the key elements of yoga practised through various postures, breathing exercises, and meditation.
  • Pilates concentrates more on strengthening your core to improve your posture as well as body alignment. This involves specific movement patterns and controlled breathing, that may involve special equipment such as reformers or stability balls.
A woman meditating
Yoga and pilates both focus on breathing techniques. Image courtesy: Freepik

Yoga vs Pilates: Which one is better?

It all depends on what you value most about Yoga versus Pilates workout programs, as well as what you want to achieve fitness-wise.

1. If you want flexibility and stress reduction

If you are interested in flexibility, stress reduction, and mindfulness, then yoga’s flowing movement sequences mixed with breath work may be suitable for you. A study published by National Institute of Health emphasises on a clinical trial on how yoga reduces stress. It concluded that yoga interventions that target psychosocial resources relating to social practices, thoughts and actions, lead to stress reduction.

2. If you want to workout your core

When it comes to working out your core muscles, becoming aware of your posture or reducing injuries, nothing beats the controlled moves and core engagement employed by Pilates practitioners today. A study published in Journal of Body Work and Movement Therapies states that pilates is great for rehabilitation.

Ultimately, choosing between the two will depend on which technique you find more enjoyable. “Perhaps trying beginner-level classes in each will help you determine which form appeals to you most. Therefore, incorporating a combination of both can create a well-rounded fitness program,” suggests Dr Thejaswi.

What should you keep in mind while doing, yoga or Pilates?

Before starting and during Yoga or Pilates, you must do the following action items:

  • Remember to listen to your body
  • Start slowly
  • Consult a doctor if you have any health concerns
  • Focus on breathing deeply
  • Follow proper techniques to avoid injuries
  • Dress in comfortable, breathable attire that permits unrestricted movement.
  • Proper hydration is essential during your practice.

Also Read: 8 ways to improve your Pilates practice and gain better results


Can you do Yoga and Pilates together?

Yes, you can. Doing yoga and Pilates together can be beneficial as they complement each other well. Yoga helps improve flexibility, relaxation, and mental clarity, while Pilates focuses on strengthening the core, improving posture, and enhancing overall body alignment. Combining both practices can provide a more comprehensive workout, targeting different muscle groups and promoting overall health and well-being.

A woman covering her back with her hands
Pilates is great to relieve back ache as well as other pain-related ailments. Image courtesy: Freepik

What are the physical benefits of doing yoga and Pilates together?

The benefits of doing both yoga and pilates is that you will be focussing on your entire body, and your posture. Both practices can contribute to better overall muscle tone and endurance, leading to improved physical fitness and a healthier body.

What are the mental benefits of doing yoga and Pilates together?

Both practices help reduce stress and promote relaxation through deep breathing and mindfulness techniques. Practising these exercises can also improve concentration and mental clarity, helping you feel calmer and more centred. Additionally, both yoga and Pilates can boost mood and self-confidence.

Can you do yoga and Pilates every day?

Yes, you can. In fact, you can divide your workout hour into half Yoga and half Pilates as well. It is possible to do them that close together as well.

Should you do yoga or Pilates in pregnancy?

Both Yoga and Pilates are safe exercises during pregnancy, but Yoga is preferred more than Pilates. However, remember to take prior approval from your doctor. “When practising Yoga or Pilates during pregnancy, opt for classes specifically designed for pregnant women. These classes feature modified postures and techniques suitable for pregnancy,” says gynaecologist Dr Kavitha Kovi. Also remember, prevent positions that require lying on the back or deep twists which can obstruct blood flow to the uterus or strain the abdomen. Avoid overexertion while listening to your body as necessary, keeping hydrated, and taking breaks. Finally, ensure you prioritise your comfort and safety throughout this process.

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