Similar but Separate Practices

You’ll have undoubtedly heard of yoga and pilates (if you haven’t, check out our post on pilates here). But how much do you know about their different benefits?

Often pushed into one category as the same low-impact, body weight sport, yoga and pilates remain entirely separate practices. 

Let’s have a look at how they differ, and help you to find the one for you!

Group Exercise


The basic differences in the two come down to definitions and origins. 

Yoga was founded several centuries ago in India, with an aim to focus the mind and connect with a higher consciousness. In its Western form, it involves moving through a series poses while using your body weight as resistance. 

Pilates is a much more recent invention. It was created by Joseph Pilates and involves slowly moving through precise exercises, with an initial aim that was largely focused on rehabilitation. Pilates is also known for focusing heavily on core strength.

Does this sound similar? Let’s look at some other ways these two practices differ. 

pilates class at Beckwith Gym

Just Breathe

There is a strong focus on the breath in both yoga and pilates. 

Guided breathing is a key part of yoga practice. This is especially relevant given the mindful and meditation elements of yoga. Your instructor will guide your breath as you flow through different positions, with the aim of this being to synchronise your breathing with your movement. 

This focus on the breath in yoga is intended to complement the other, more philosophical aspects of the practice. These include self-discipline, sense transcendence, and meditation (read more on this here).

Heads up: this is more complicated than it sounds!

In pilates, breath control is also incorporated into the practice. As pilates was created as a workout, controlling the breaths allows the movement to be more precise. This allows for increased stability and strength.



Many yoga practitioners will say that when it comes down to it, the key difference between yoga and pilates is spirituality. 

Each yoga practice uses the body to connect with the mind and the inner self. Mindfulness and spirituality are key concepts within the practice.

Pilates can in fact have many similar positions and breathing techniques to yoga. However, it does not have the same focus on the mind. According to former Olympian and professor Greg Whyte, pilates was largely designed to focus on the core to help with rehabilitation. Thanks to this, it tends to be more of an aerobic challenge than yoga.  

at home stretch

Desired Outcome

Neither one is a better or worse practice than the other, but they do have separate focuses. What are you looking to get out of it?

According to Healthline, some of the main benefits of pilates can be increased muscle strength and endurance, better balance, improved flexibility and posture, and decreased joint pain.

There is a good deal of crossover there with the benefits from yoga. However, yoga can also help with mental health, including with anxiety and depression. 

If your main priority is to clear your mind, and exercise your body while working on mindfulness, yoga might be the one for you. 

If your priority is to increase your fitness, give pilates a try.

Classes at Beckwith Health Club

Beckwith Health Club offers classes in both pilates and yoga. Check out our timetable here to find the right class for you. 

If you’re looking for something a little bit different, try out Pi-Yo, which is a variation of pilates. Sara runs our Pi-Yo classes at Beckwith, and explains what it consists of here.