Yoga VS Pilates | Los Angeles

Yoga VS Pilates… One question I get asked all the time is “what is the difference between yoga and Pilates?” The two practices are often lumped together because they are considered as more “gentle” forms of exercise, both of which can be done on a mat. However, while they do share similarities, there is also a lot that differentiates them.
Let’s take a look.

Yoga VS Pilates – ORIGINS

Yoga was developed thousands of years ago in the East and was brought to the Western world over 100 years ago. Although it is now mostly viewed as a form of physical exercise (at least in the West), its original purpose was to help prepare the body for meditation.

Pilates, on the other hand, was developed in Europe in the 1920s by a man named Joseph Pilates. He created the practice as a form of rehabilitation. Originally practiced by soldiers during WWI, it gained in popularity when dancers began using it to heal dancing injuries and strengthen their bodies.


While both yoga and Pilates can be done on a mat, there is quite a significant difference between the practices. Pilates can also be done on specific machines, in which case it looks nothing like a yoga class.

From a physical perspective, yoga aims at strengthening, stretching, and balancing the body. It does not put an emphasis on any one area of the body and instead works everything from head to toe. Poses are done lying down, seated, standing, balancing, and inverted, and there’s a good chance that no two yoga classes will be the same. There are also many different styles of yoga, which have different emphases, including Power, Yin, Vinyasa, Bikram, Kundalini, and Anusara.

Yoga is great for improving your strength, flexibility, and balance.

Pilates also works to stretch and strengthen the body, but there is a strong emphasis on core strength, which incorporates your abs, low back, obliques, and glutes. This is known as your “power house,” and all movement originates from this area.

Although there are different styles of Pilates, there is much less variance here than there is in yoga. Most classes will have a similar feel and exercise physiology.

While Pilates will help to elongate and strengthen all of your muscles, it is particularly great for aligning the spine and building core strength.


Both yoga and Pilates stress the importance of the breath as a means to bringing awareness to the body-mind connection. However, the non-physical components of the practice are emphasized much more in Yoga than in Pilates.

Yoga has many different pranayama (breathing) techniques, which are said to have different effects on the body. By using these different techniques, you are affecting not only your physical body, but also your energetic flow (known as chi, prana, or qi). In addition to a body-mind connection, yoga is deeply based on spiritual principles, and almost every class will include meditation.

The Pilates breath is much simpler- inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth. Although simple, it is still very important, and as in yoga, a focus on the breath is meant to help bring awareness to the present moment and the body-mind connection. Pilates does not include the spiritual component or meditation practice found in yoga.

So there you have it, a quick look at the difference between yoga and Pilates! Both are excellent practices, and the only true way to understand the differences is to give both a try. You may find that you prefer one over the other, or you may fall in love with both. The most important thing is to listen to your body and do what feels right for you.