Yoga or Pilates: What’s The Difference?

Yoga Class In Downward Dog Pose

Yoga and Pilates share similarities, but their philosophies are not the same.

  • Yoga and Pilates are categorized as Mind/Body disciplines.
  • Shoes are not worn during Yoga or Pilates.
  • Yoga poses and Pilates exercises are performed on a mat.
  • Yoga and Pilates emphasize breathing.
  • Many of the Yoga poses and Pilates exercises look very similar.


  • Yoga Child’s Pose is similar to Pilates Shell Stretch
  • Yoga Cat Stretch is similar to Pilates Cat Stretch
  • Yoga Bridge is similar to Pilates Shoulder Bridge
  • Yoga Shoulder Stand is similar to Pilates Scissors In The Air, and Jack Knife
  • Yoga Bow Pose is similar to Pilates Rocking


Pilates Class Scissors Exercise

Pilates exercise was invented by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century to strengthen the core muscles.  He called his system of exercise, “Contrology”, but the name didn’t stick.  Joseph Pilates passed away in 1967 at the age of 83.  After his death, his exercise discipline became known as Pilates.

Pilates exercises focuses attention on the core postural muscles, that keep the body balanced and provide support for the spine.  Pilates teaches awareness of breath, spinal alignment, and strengthening deep abdominal and back muscles.

Practitioners of Pilates exercises move through a sequence of mat exercises using proper body alignment, while incorporating breathing, and concentration.

Yoga is a Sanskrit word meaning “to yoke”, or “to connect”.  Originating in ancient India, Yoga is a physical, spiritual, and philosophical discipline, dedicated to creating a union between the human soul, and the Creator.  There are many paths to study Yoga.  The contemporary practice of Yoga in America is associated primarily as an exercise program to alleviate health problems, reduce stress, and improve fitness.

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Copyright 2012 Irene Pastore and Blue Moon Personal Training

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