Updated: Nov 11, 2021
Many people ask us "Which would be best for me? Pilates or Yoga? There is no easy answer to this because we are all individuals, but we can give some guidelines. Personally I would say try both. I find the core strengthening of Pilates; the precision of correct spinal alignment and the mobilising and stabilising of muscles coupled with the slow stretching and mindful breathing of yoga very complementary to each other. Both disciplines teach slow, controlled, flowing movements performed with thoughtful awareness. both disciplines work with the breath. Both advocate relaxation in the body. Pilates is all about paying particular attention to the right use of muscles, the way we align the body and mobilising the spine. Yoga essentially focuses on stretching body
Although there is an amount of stretching in Pilates the focus is very much on the correct use of muscles and improving posture, mobility, flexibility and strength gradually.
"One is a holistic discipline originating from ancient India, the other a specific physical system devised by a German anatomist in the early 20th century, but there’s much cross-over – and therein lies confusion – between yoga and Pilates.
As practices today, yoga and Pilates are both celebrated for their numerous health benefits, from offering connection to the body and stress relief, to developing flexibility, strength, control and endurance. There are countless interpretations of both disciplines (and one person’s balance class is another person’s cardio) but what links them both is breath work.
Put simply, “the biggest difference between the two,” Jill Simpson, founder of yoga, Pilates, ballet and barre studio Ebb&Flow explains, “is the emphasis on the spiritual side in yoga classes.”
“Yoga is an integrated health management system using breath, movement and meditation to unite mind, body and spirit. It also incorporates elements of philosophy, science and an ethical way of living. Classes can range from gentle and nourishing to challenging and sweaty.
Pilates was created by Joseph Pilates who was an anatomist and a mechanical genius,” Bertali says. “It is a physical system that uses very specific targeted exercises to improve strength, flexibility and posture with particular focus on the core. It is a disciplined practice that needs to be done on a regular basis to provide benefit”.
There tends to be fewer wild variations of Pilates teachings, with traditionalists favouring mat classes and those seeking more fitness-focused workouts opting for classes on resistance-based reformer machines. Classical Pilates, which marries mat work with a whole host of Pilates apparatus, is considered to be the practice in its truest form.