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What is the difference between yoga and Pilates?

Updated: Jun 8, 2021

Helen Soden practicing Yoga

As a Yoga teacher this is the question I get asked most frequently by people that are brand new to yoga.

So what is the difference?

A lot of the movements are really quite similar in many ways, especially when it comes to things like plank pose and bridge lifts.

To be honest this question always makes me feel rather disheartened, because as popular is yoga is today, a lot of us in the west are still not really sure what this ancient practice is all about.

So, I'm here to answer this question for you!

Pilates was a system of exercise developed in the 2oth Century by Joseph Pilates. He developed this exercise system to help strengthen the physical body with a series of controlled movements, using concentration, focussed movements and the breath. This system was developed to promote physical and mental strength in the body. This system is particularly known for helping people develop a strong core.

As I've mentioned before, a lot of the poses are really quite similar to yoga poses, as are the principles of using control and the breath.

"So, Come on then, what is the difference?" I hear you!

Yoga is an ancient system that uses (amongst others) asana, (physical movement) Pranayama, (Specific breathing exercises) and meditation.

All of these practices where developed thousands of years ago (the exact time period is not known but scriptures that reference yoga date back as far as 5000 years) as a means for human evolution, to develop humankind.

Sound like we're getting deep and philosophical here? Well, we are!

The ancient yogi's developed this system and found that when practiced with total dedication, they were able to reach higher levels of consciousness. These yogi's dedicated their lives to their study and through intense practice found they could tap into the "beyond".

The practice of yoga in the west has now been pretty much diluted into what is purely physical, and there are fantastic benefits from just the physical stuff.


There is a vast ocean of possibility in your yoga practice if you include breathwork and meditation.

At the very least, through regular practice you will begin to feel more grounded, centred and calm.

You will be more in touch with yourself and the world around you.

You may begin to see things a little differently.

A whole host of wonderful mental and physical benefits will come your way.

So, THAT my friends is the difference between yoga and Pilates.

Pilates focusses purely on physical movement.

Yoga addresses body, mind and soul.

Which will you choose?

If you're interested in meditation and it's amazing benefits but not sure where to begin, check out my Find Your Stillness: Meditation For Beginners Course starting in October!

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