Pilates versus Yoga - What's the Difference?

It's not uncommon to wonder about the differences between these two disciplines. Some of the equipment, too, seems to cross over. Can you use a Yoga mat for Pilates? Is a Yoga ball the same thing as a balance ball? And how are the movements different? What about the effects - do they differ as well?

Here are some of the differences between Yoga and Pilates - the origin, movements, equipment, and effects.


Yoga is an ancient art that originated in India. Yoga and various versions of it have been practiced for thousands of years. Yoga was practiced as a sort of worship - it was (and often still is) considered part of a pathway to achieving a higher spiritual state.

Yoga was not originally intended to be practiced by just anyone who wanted to get in shape. On the other hand, Pilates originated in the 1920s, and was the creation of a German man named Joseph Pilates. His goals appeared to be entirely physical; he hoped everyone could achieve a superior body that was free from pain. Pilates was intended for anyone who could practice it.


Some say that Joseph Pilates was inspired by some of Yoga's moves, not unlike the way Bruce Lee developed his own brand of martial arts by mixing the aspects of various other arts and adding his own ideas to the mix.

However, Pilates is not considered a variation or branch of Yoga. Pilates focuses on strengthening the core muscles and lengthening the spine. It emphasizes both strength and flexibility, and sometimes uses specific workout machines. Yoga does not focus on a particular muscle group; its movements work all muscles essentially equally to achieve balance. Yoga does not involve specialized machines.


Pilates can involve some very specific, sometimes complicated-looking machinery. Pilates can also be done with just a mat and maybe a ball, like Yoga, which may explain some of the confusion between these two disciplines. Pilates classes and studios nearly always have special Pilates equipment, though. Perhaps ironically, Yoga involves more props than Pilates, such as wood blocks. Basically, it comes down to this:

* Yoga requires a mat and certain props, like wood blocks, blankets, or Yoga balls

* Pilates can be done with just a mat and an optional balance ball. It can also involve complicated Pilates machines developed specifically for the purpose of practicing Pilates.


Yoga incorporates spiritual elements into its practice. Yoga involves a certain lifestyle, meditation, and seeking a path to mental wellbeing. Originally, its end goal was to achieve Nirvana. Pilates, while still considered a "whole-body workout," does not involve spiritual elements. Pilates is about body conditioning and sculpting, alignment, and toning.

By Current Health Articles

Newer Post Older Post