As Pilates instructors, we often have people tell us they would love to take one of our Yoga classes. When we reply saying that I don’t teach Yoga, the response is usually “oh, but it’s the same thing, isn’t it?” While we do love both Pilates and Yoga, they are very different modalities.
Similarities Between Pilates and Yoga
Of course, there are some similarities. First, both can be performed on a mat, however Pilates can also be performed on various pieces of equipment as well which is one of the differences. They are both slow-paced, low-impact exercises that require mindfulness and help increase core strength and flexibility. Maybe that’s why they tend to attract the same types of people. They even share some of the same exercises, but they are usually done a little differently. For example, boat pose in Yoga resembles a teaser in Pilates, and the bridge in Pilates can be confused for the Yoga wheel. Joseph Pilates did draw inspiration from multiple disciplines when creating the method he coined Contrology.
Breath is an extremely important aspect of both practices. You are supposed to focus on your breath the entire session as it facilitates each movement. In Yoga, you inhale and exhale through the nose. At some points in a Yoga class, you may be required to hold your breath for an extended period of time. In certain types of Yoga, a variety of breathing techniques are taught. In Pilates, we practice diaphragmatic breathing, inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth.
As I mentioned earlier, both practices are typically slow-paced, but in Yoga, you will hold certain poses for a much longer period of time than you would in Pilates. You may be in a stretch for a full minute, whereas in Pilates, you are continuously moving as you stretch.
What’s The Difference?
Yoga builds strength through body-weight exercises whereas Pilates focuses more on strengthening the muscles by using the resistance of the springs when incorporating the Pilates equipment. And while both exercises are mindful, Yoga focuses more on spirituality. Classes sometimes begin with a meditation and usually end with a longer, deeper meditation and a resting pose called Savasana. The lights are turned off, eyes are closed, all of the muscles are relaxed and the instructor may recite an inspiring mantra.
Pilates and Yoga can really complement each other. The strong core you develop in Pilates will help you with the balancing poses in Yoga. Some Yoga teachers incorporate Pilates moves in their sessions and vice versa. There are even Yogalates classes, which are, as you may have guessed, a combination of both practices. There are also many varieties of each, some more similar than others. We would encourage you to do some research and try out a few different forms. That’s the best way to discover how you would like to spend your time moving your body.
Try for Yourself
Sign-up for a new Pilates movement everyday for the next 5 days that you can easily do at home without any equipment. Challenge yourself to complete each movement and see if you can notice the difference between Pilates and Yoga. (And just a heads up, we have a little gift for you on the last day for making it to the end!)