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Pilates or Yoga? Yoga or Pilates? Do I really need to choose?

Pilates or Yoga? Yoga or Pilates? Do I really need to choose?

Ah, it’s an age-old question. Literally age-old.

Both practices as they are today have been around for many, many, many years and have been proven to make a difference to health and wellbeing.

Yoga and Pilates are not the same, of course, but they do share some key benefits and complement each other beautifully. It’s not surprising that many instructors these days are trained or have experience in both disciplines.

Whether you create a regular practice of either or both and you can be assured that you will be covering almost all aspects of the holistic health continuum.

The World Health Organisation defines holistic “Health as a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmary.”

You might not be sick, but does that mean you are healthy?

Both Yoga and Pilates, play a part in ‘enhancing’ your health by improving your physical, mental and spiritual condition and when done in a group setting can also provide social connectedness


Originating in India and drawing from Eastern religions and ancient texts, YOGA has thousands of years of history. At least, the key yoga texts like Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, and the Bhagavad Gita, which yoga is based on, have been around for what is thought to be thousands of years, but the movement/asana practice that yoga is now known for most of all, is a newer addition, said to have emerged during the British Colonial period in India and based on European gymnastics and YMCA exercise movements; which is just one school of thought!

The word Yoga means to yoke together or unite.

In Yoga, we unite the body, mind, and soul. We unite with our true selves, we unite with others as one, and we unite with the source/higher power, or universe if you like.

There are many different types of yoga such Iyengar, Hatha, Vinyasa, Birkram and Yin Yoga (a newer kind of yoga connected more to Traditional Chinese Medicine) and fusions of these as well. In finding whether Yoga is for you, be open to trying a few different forms before you decide which one or two or more feels best for body. Ask questions, do some research, sign up for a trial and then trust your instincts.

On the other hand, the creator of PILATES, Joseph Pilates, was born in 1883 near Düsseldorf, Germany. His father had been a prize-winning gymnast and his mother a naturopath who believed in stimulating the body to heal itself without the use of artificial drugs.

Joseph was born a small and sickly child, he was affected by rickets, asthma, and rheumatic fever. This made him a target for bullies. He became determined to overcome his ailments and self-educated himself in human anatomy, gymnastics, bodybuilding, yoga, and martial arts. His physique was such that he was posing as a model at 14 for anatomy charts.

Joseph believed that our modern lifestyle, bad posture, and inefficient breathing were the roots of ill health.

His answer to these problems was to design a unique series of vigorous physical exercises that help to correct muscular imbalances and improve posture, coordination, balance, strength, and flexibility, as well as to increase breathing capacity and organ function.

Herein lies one of the fundamental differences between Yoga and Pilates:

Yoga is a spiritual practice that invites a greater connection to, and understanding of, a higher power to improve one’s health and wellbeing

Pilates is a physical practice that invites a greater connection to, and understanding of, your own body to improve health and wellbeing

Of course, there is so much more that needs to be taken into consideration but what is important to note is that gaining health and wellness on multiple levels is the driving force behind both forms.

As with yoga, there are different lineages of Pilates developed by teachers who studied with Joseph Pilates. Click here to read more about the history of Pilates https://positivepilates.co.uk/pilates-a-brief-history/


Joseph Pilates says: “The mind, when housed within a healthful body, possesses a glorious sense of power.”

Both Yoga and Pilates:

  • Focus on the mind-body connection and holistic health through a series of set poses, exercise sequences and their variations.
  • Help strengthen, tone and condition all of the muscles of the body for overall fitness.
  • Improve alignment, balance and general equilibrium
  • Build a strong upright posture that contributes to a confident self with a more positive self-image.
  • Emphasise the importance of the breath in connection with the execution of exercises and in creating a more grounded and centred self. In Yoga, the breath allows us to unite body mind, and spirit, quietening the mind and creating calm and balance. In Pilates, the breath is used to help activate the core and support the body through effort,
  • Contribute to physical and mental healing through deep breath. Diaphragmatic breathing is as good for activating the parasympathetic nervous system and relieving stress, as it is for posture by enhancing core stability.
  • Are equally accessible for different ages and abilities. They can b modified for beginners, people with injuries or disease or pregnancy, or post-pregnancy.


Yoga also offers other benefits which range from stress relief and a creation of an underlying calm  to a connection with your authentic true self, to others, and to the earth. There is an emphasis on learning lessons that you can take off the mat and into your everyday life. The incorporation of mindfulness meditation is particularly useful in our current chaotic world,  In the words of Patanjali’s yoga sutras, “Yoga removes the fluctuations of the mind.”

Pilates is most widely known for strengthening the core and overall body conditioning, but as with Yoga, it has many variations and its effects are far reaching.  Studio Pilates also utilises props and equipment for specific exercise benefits and rehabilitation programs that like matwork have a powerful effect on the bodies fitness for everyday living.

While known widely as Pilates, Joseph Pilates called his exercise method Contrology, which “develops the body uniformly, corrects wrong postures, restores physical vitality, invigorates the mind, and elevates the spirit.”

You can find out more about the benefits of Yoga here. 
The Benefits of Yoga: 38 Ways Your Practice can improve your Life (Yoga Journal article)


The only way you are going to find out which one lights you up from the inside out is to give them both a try. You may find you love them both equally and complement each other perfectly.

We believe that the real world is full of variation and always changing so why not go with the flow.. simply listen to your body and take its cue. 

Check out the Just Believe Fit schedule to find a Yoga or Pilates class that suits you.

We here for your wellness


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