Yoga vs. Pilates: What’s The Difference?

Yoga and Pilates are among the most popular sports among women. You would like to choose one of them, but are unsure which one is better for you? Here is a little help in deciding.



A big difference between yoga and Pilates lies in the origin of the two sports. Yoga has a history of several thousand years and originally comes from India. It is considered a science of life and spiritual teaching.

Pilates, on the other hand, is a modern invention and was developed by Joseph H. Pilates as a relaxation technique. He advocates the principle that the whole-body workout should address and train deep-lying, usually weaker muscle groups.

Basic Idea

Pilates is designed to strengthen and tone the muscles and thus improve posture. Through controlled and conscious movements in the exercise sequences, a healthy body is created and body awareness is increased. Unlike some yoga movements, Pilates has nothing to do with spirituality.

Yoga is about uniting body and mind and thus cleansing oneself of toxins. As part of the Indian healing art of Ayurveda, yoga includes meditation as well as physical exercise.


The two sports also differ in their breathing techniques. Correct breathing plays an important role in Pilates, where chest breathing is used – this means breathing all the way into the diaphragm. Breathing is exclusively in through the nose and out through the mouth. The breathing here serves as an individual rhythm. The inhalation serves to prepare the exercise, and the exhalation to perform the exercise with a concentration on the center of the body. The sequences are repeated several times, whereas in yoga the aim is to hold the exercises for as long as possible in order to achieve the desired training effect.

In yoga, breathing is even more important and serves primarily to relax the mind. Abdominal breathing plays a central role here. Breathing is done exclusively through the nose. This is why yoga has its own exercises that focus specifically on breathing.


Three points are particularly important in Pilates: awareness, exact dosage, and perception. Concentration and control, as well as precision and contraction, are the focus of every exercise. The inventor calls this “Contrology”, which means the teaching of body control.

In this respect, yoga is very similar. However, unlike Pilates, it does not train strength and is therefore not considered a classic “sport” by many, but rather a relaxation technique. There are various breathing exercises, physical exercises, deep relaxation methods and meditations that are taught in yoga. The teaching focuses more on the spiritual understanding of mind and soul, which is dispensed with in Pilates. Here you notice the historical and religious influences.

With Pilates you train the smallest deep-seated muscles, such as the deep abdominal, pelvic floor and back muscles. This improves posture, flexibility and awareness.

Yoga is primarily used to manage stress as well as to release tension and in this way to promote health. This is achieved through better physical flexibility.

Unbeatable Together

Even though Pilates and yoga sometimes have major differences, they also have things in common. Because both sports increase the general well-being, they both work with the body and achieve better flexibility.

That is why they can be wonderfully combined. The combination is called “Yoga Pilates” and achieves maximum training success. Depending on your health condition, you can choose individual exercises from Yoga and Pilates and combine them. An experienced trainer is definitely helpful in choosing the most effective exercises for you.


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