What is the difference between yoga and pilates?

What is the difference between yoga and pilates?

Yoga and Pilates are equally well-known and popular. There is definitely overlap in both the exercises and the effects. However, there are some fundamental differences between yoga and Pilates. In this article you will find out what these are and how you can find out what is best for you and your goals.

Yoga vs. Pilates: Differences in Philosophy

Probably the biggest difference between Pilates and yoga lies in the philosophy and origins. Yoga is an Indian teaching that is well over 1,000 years old and focuses on the unity of body, mind and soul. Pilates is a relatively new whole-body workout with a clear focus on the physical aspects.

What philosophy and origin is behind yoga?

Yoga is much more than performing physical exercises. Movements and physical exercises, the asanas, are part of a holistic teaching. Meditation and certain breathing techniques play an equally important role. The unity of body, mind and soul should be achieved through the combination of asanas, breathing and meditation.

There are a large number of different types of yoga with different focuses. In the Western world, body-focused yoga styles such as Hatha Yoga are most common.

What philosophy and origin is behind Pilates?

In contrast to yoga, Pilates is a relatively young discipline: developed by Joseph Hubertus Pilates at the beginning of the 20th century, it became increasingly known and popular in the 1960s, first in the USA and then here too.

Pilates is primarily a sport, so the physical aspect is in the foreground. Pilates is a strengthening program for the whole body that particularly targets the deep muscles. The focus of Pilates exercises is on the center of the body, the so-called powerhouse, i.e. the abdominal muscles, the pelvic floor and the lower back.

Pilates and yoga: difference in breathing

Breathing is a central element in both yoga and Pilates. However, the manner and meaning differ.

Breathing or breathing techniques - called pranayama - are not a means to an end in yoga, but rather an elementary part of yoga practice. Breathing guides movement and there are a variety of breathing exercises. When doing yoga, you breathe with abdominal breathing, i.e. through your nose deep into your abdomen and out again through your nose.

In Pilates, breathing has no spiritual background, but rather serves as a support for the correct execution of the movements. In Pilates you use diaphragmatic breathing or chest breathing: the air is breathed in through the nose deep into the chest and out through the mouth.

Pilates and yoga: differences in execution

The asanas in yoga basically alternate between tension and relaxation, and you usually stay in one position for a while. Aside from comfortable yoga clothing and a yoga mat, you don't need any other supplies. Optionally, a yoga block or meditation cushion can be used.

Yoga has many positive effects on the body and mind: muscle building through yoga is particularly noticeable in the back and torso, yoga trains your balance and improves mobility. On a mental level, yoga ensures relaxation, improved self-awareness and accompanies you on the path to self-knowledge.

Pilates is about performing the exercises in a concentrated and controlled manner, flowing and with many repetitions. A mat is an advantage for a comfortable surface, and other aids such as rings, cables or balls are often used.

The training methods are primarily aimed at the powerhouse – the core of the body – and strengthening the deep muscles. This not only strengthens your body, but also improves your posture, which in particular prevents or alleviates problems such as back pain.

Yogilates: The best of both?

Not just if you can't decide: Many yoga and fitness studios now offer courses in Yogilates - sometimes also called Piloga. The most important elements from both disciplines are combined - the strengthening exercises of Pilates with the relaxation techniques of yoga.

Many fitness studios offer Yogilates classes

What suits me - yoga or Pilates?

The best tip is: try both!

If you primarily want to train your body, Pilates is your choice. If you want to focus equally on body and mind, yoga is more suitable. By the way, we have put together the best yoga exercises for beginners for you here. There is also absolutely nothing wrong with practicing yoga and Pilates as you please and reaping the full benefits of both. So you don't have to choose between the two.