Pilates and Yoga: What are the Differences and Which is BEST for Me?

Pilates, Blog, / By Koh Peh Chia

Many people view Yoga and Pilates as ‘the same’ exercise. Most people could not differentiate them and always feel confused about which to choose. Pilates and Yoga are both low-impact practices which focus on breath, alignment, balance, strength and flexibility. However, they are totally different origins and functions.

This article will discuss about the 5 differences between Pilates and Yoga, and which is the right practice for you.

5 Differences between Pilates and Yoga


Yoga is a traditional practice that originated in South Asia thousands of years ago. Together with postures, breath control, and simple meditation, it improves one’s physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. The repetition and the flow of the poses can help to calm the busy mind while building flexibility and strength.

Pilates is more modern form of exercise. Pilates was named after its creator, Joseph Pilates. When Pilates was a young child, he suffered from several diseases that limited his mobility. He then developed the Pilates exercises in the early 1900s for rehabilitation and strengthening. It was founded around 1925 by Joseph Pilates and is  used for physical rehabilitation by strengthening the core, improve posture, and develop balance and overall strength.

2. Breathing Methods

Both Yoga & Pilates uses breathing techniques in their practices to improves circulation and promotes relaxation.

In Yoga, a full belly breathing method is used with inhaling and exhaling both through the nose. Belly breathing helps oxygenate the blood, lowers blood pressure and promotes relaxation.

In contrast, Pilates uses 3-dimensional breathing pattern during the practice. It starts with inhaling through the nose and exhaling through pursed lips method with a gentle contraction of the abdominal muscles. In Pilates, breathing takes an important role especially in initial position of exercise. It can help in enhancing the precision of movement and coordination.

3. Equipment/ Props

Pilates can be done on mat with wide range of props such as Flex band, Pilates ring, exercise ball, foam roller etc. Furthermore, Pilates uses machines such as the reformer, Cadillac, chair, small barrel, etc. Most of the machines, like reformer use a pulley system with varying straps and springs for resistance. They are used to aid the body in facilitating alignment, gaining strength, and improving inconsistencies in the body. On the other hand, Yoga uses mainly a mat, as well as equipment to assist in Yoga poses, such as straps, blankets, straps, or wheel

4.Spiritual Component

Spiritual component is another major difference between Pilates and Yoga.

Despite Yoga is not a religion, this ancient practice can influence a Yoga person in a spiritual sense. It works as guides to aid people search their spiritual enlightenment and inner peace through a series of Yoga poses.

In contrast, Pilates does not have the spiritual involvement. It is just a pure exercise routine which effectively helps in rehabilitation.

5.Rehabilitation Effects

Yoga has significant rehabilitative effect which is more credited in reducing psychological problems, such as stress, anxiety and depression.

Pilates has the added benefit of its rehabilitative effects, especially if it is combined with physiotherapy. Research has shown that Pilates does help effectively with post-injury rehabilitation. This ensures that patients not only reach an optimal state of health, but can also maintain strength in order to prevent re-injury.

Which one is the best for me?

No matter Pilates or Yoga, they both have their merits. There is no best exercise in this universe unless it suits your goal. So the easiest way to decide is to have a go a try both!

As always, we hope that this article has been useful to you. We update our blog weekly with articles on various topics. Check them out here! If you have any questions for us, reach to us here. Below is a short video of our therapist Peh Chia, sharing a Pilates exercise for beginners. Do subscribe to our YouTube channel for updates on useful tips and exercises.