What Is the Difference Between Yoga and Pilates?

April 12, 2024
What Is the Difference Between Yoga and Pilates


Learn the Differences Between Pilates and Yoga and How Each May Benefit Your Fitness Routine

Health, physical strength, and mental well-being are important to you. You strive to eat a healthy diet, get regular exercise, and participate in activities that stimulate both your mind and body.

Pilates and yoga are activities that contribute both to physical and mental well-being, and you might be wondering if there is a difference between the two.

And if so, which exercise will be the most beneficial to you?

Join us as we look at the difference between yoga and Pilates and explore the benefits of both to help you decide which practice will meet your needs and help you reach your goals.

Table of Contents

What Is the Difference Between Pilates and Yoga?
3 Differences Between Pilates and Yoga
The Difference Between Yoga and Pilates: Exploring the Benefits of Each
Which Is Better, Yoga or Pilates?
Heal Your Mind and Body Through Body & Brain Yoga Tai Chi’s Fundamental Yoga Practices

What Is the Difference Between Pilates and Yoga?

Yoga and Pilates share some similarities, and though commonly placed in the same category, it’s helpful to understand that yoga and Pilates are two different kinds of exercise with different principles, methods, and benefits.

Pilates and yoga can benefit everyone and have some similarities. For example, they:

• Are generally lower-intensity exercises — compared to high-intensity cardio or strength training activities
• Can enhance physical and mental health
• Both use a mat
• Can be done alone or in group classes
• May help you get lean and toned
• May help to develop flexibility, control, and endurance

Even though yoga and Pilates share many things in common, there are significant differences. Understanding the differences between Pilates and yoga will make you better equipped to choose the exercise that’s right for you.

What Is Pilates?

Developed by German-born Joseph Pilates, the exercise system he introduced is characterized by movements that work to stabilize the core first, followed by exercises for strength and range of motion that emphasize skeletal alignment.

, as a young boy with many health ailments, began studying anatomy and the animal world to develop an exercise program for himself aimed at strengthening both body and mind. He eventually created a program of exercises that blended yoga practices with Western exercise activities like:

• gymnastics
• Bodybuilding; and
• Recreational Sports

After using his methods to help injured soldiers in WWI, Joseph and his wife, Clara, immigrated to the US, opening a studio in New York (and eventually in California) that drew the attention of actors, athletes, and dancers.

Pilates exercises work to increase strength and flexibility by intentionally adopting a body position and then working the core by moving your arms and legs in that “holding” position.

Though Pilates exercises are commonly done on the floor using a mat, some may prefer using a raised Pilates platform with weighted pulleys and straps that help provide resistance, a design that originated by Joseph Pilates and was first named “the Universal Reformer.”

A Pilates regimen aims to achieve these Pilates Principles:

• Breath
• Centering
• Concentration
• Control
• Flow; and
• Precision

What Is Yoga?

Originating in India over 5000 years ago, yoga remains a popular exercise for both men and women worldwide. It’s estimated that worldwide, including in Korea (see description below). About 34.4 million yogis reside in the U.S. Over the centuries, a variety of similar mind-body practices developed in Asia that were not called “Yoga” because they weren’t from India, but that term is applied to them today. This includes Korean yoga (taught by Body & Brain and a few other organizations in the United States), Chinese Yoga, and Tibetan Yoga.

Yoga combines breathing techniques with physical poses to practice mindfulness and body-to-brain connectedness.

Yoga breathing techniques can help to strengthen the mind-body connection by providing time and space to be present, listen, and respond to your body’s needs.

As you flow through repetitive stretches and poses, regular yoga practice also helps to increase flexibility by focusing on a wide range of muscle groups. Yoga is a practice that integrates a variety of aspects of awareness for physical, emotional, and spiritual health.

There are many types of yoga practiced around the world, including:

• Vinyasa yoga
• Hatha yoga
• Ashtanga yoga
• Bikram yoga
• Hot yoga
• Restorative yoga
• Korean energy yoga

At Body & Brain Yoga and Tai Chi, we specialize in Korean yoga, an energy-based, mind-body yoga developed by Ilchi Lee in 1980. Korean yoga combines stretching, deep breathing, meditation, and flowing movements to integrate physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being and maximize the body’s energy.

To learn more about the Korean yoga practice or to schedule your 50-minute private introductory session, contact Body & Brain Yoga and Tai Chi today.

3 Differences Between Pilates and Yoga

By now, you understand some of the differences between yoga and Pilates. To decide which type of exercise to choose, it may be helpful to review how they are different in terms of:

• Intensity
• Intention; and
• Post-workout experience

#1: The Intensity Behind the Exercises

Both yoga and Pilates are typically low-impact exercises. There are also a variety of styles, especially within yoga, that provide a more or less intense physical workout. With that in mind, we can say that yoga is usually a low-intensity activity that is more slow-paced and is focused on breathing, connectedness, and mindfulness.

For example, Hatha yoga is low intensity with gentle and slow movements, while vinyasa yoga may be considered moderate with more intense movements that can raise your heart rate. High-intensity yoga practices may include Bikram and hot yoga which include more vigorous exercise in a heated environment.

Body & Brain Yoga and Tai Chi’s Korean yoga practices would be classified as mildly intense. While still providing an excellent workout, the movements can be modified in intensity to match your abilities and needs.

In contrast, Pilates usually delivers a higher intensity workout than yoga, though not as intense as other cardio or other high-intensity interval training workouts. Pilates combines cardio and stretching focused on body shaping, muscle-building strength, breathwork, balance, and overall alignment.

Precision, control, and proper technique are key areas of focus in Pilates, which are what can make Pilates a demanding workout. Even though Pilates is low-impact, it can be quite intense, so starting slowly with low resistance is advisable.

#2: The Intentions of the Exercises

Those who regularly practice yoga may be looking for a way to de-stress and experience a body and brain connection. The breathing techniques, stretching, and mindful meditation of yoga may create an ideal environment for:

• Increased body awareness
• Mental clarity and concentration
• Calmness
• Physical and mental relaxation
• Stress relief
• Centered attention
• Overall well-being

Pilates is generally focused on physical strength and flexibility by stabilizing the core while working on other body parts. Those who participate in Pilates classes may be looking for a more intense workout and some body shaping that increases strength and flexibility.

Korean yoga also focuses on the core but from the perspective of energy activation, circulation, and accumulation in the lower abdomen Dahn-jon (energy center).

#3: The Post-Workout Feeling

Whether you’re talking about yoga or Pilates, how you feel after a workout may be different for each individual — and each workout can have different post-workout results.

In general, though, after a yoga workout, you may feel:

• Calm
• Relaxed
• Loose
• Fulfilled
• More alert
• Enthusiastic
• Positive
• Energized
• Energetically re-balanced

Because a Pilates workout is more intense, afterward, you may feel:

• Physically tired
• Accomplished
• Confident
• Energized
• Physically re-balanced

Though you may feel tired after a Pilates workout, you shouldn’t feel the exhaustion and fatigue you may feel after an extremely intense gym workout for strength and stamina.

Of course, you’ll only know how you’ll feel after a Pilates or yoga workout if you experience them yourself. Schedule an introductory yoga session with Body & Brain Yoga and Tai Chi and see how our yoga classes can leave you relaxed, energized, and refreshed.

The Difference Between Yoga and Pilates: Exploring the Benefits of Each

Like the other categories we’ve already mentioned, yoga and Pilates share some — strength and flexibility, to name a few.

But what are the differences between yoga and Pilates in terms of benefits? Looking at the individual benefits of both yoga and Pilates may also play a role in determining which exercise is best suited for you and your needs.


Yoga can be adapted for most conditions and environments and may deliver many of the following benefits:

Relaxation: Meditative yoga and deep breathing elements of yoga may aid in by encouraging us to slow down and take time for self-care.
Improved balance: When the muscles are stretched and strengthened through various yoga poses, both static and dynamic may improve.
Easing of stress: Mindful meditation and the connectedness between mind and body that accompanies yoga practices can help and anxiety.
Positivity: Feeling strong and well physically may greatly affect our outlook. When you’re able to perform challenging yoga poses and moves, not only may your strength and flexibility increase but you may also experience higher confidence and feel more comfortable with your body.
Weight loss: Especially in more intense yoga practices, you may burn more calories, which can .


If you choose to include Pilates into your regular exercise routine, you may benefit from the following:

Strong core and toned muscle without bulk: Pilates exercises may help strengthen and lengthen muscles to counteract bulk from intense bodybuilding or other high-performance athletics.
Balance: By learning Pilates movements, spinal positioning, and strengthening the core, you may benefit from improved physical balance.
Improved mental well-being and stress relief: Like yoga, Pilates exercises may help you be in tune with your mind and body and may result in relieved stress and clarity of mind.
Improved posture: Because of the focus on alignment in Pilates practices, you may find that your posture changes as you get stronger and become more balanced.
Weight control: This showed that Pilates can significantly help with weight loss, especially in those who are overweight or obese.
Increased energy: Rather than feeling completely exhausted, Pilates may leave you feeling energized after a workout.

Most people can do yoga or Pilates, but if you have any physical limitations or specific health conditions — injuries, heart disease, back problems, high blood pressure, etc. — it’s a good idea to consult with your doctor before starting a regular Pilates or yoga routine.

Which Is Better, Yoga or Pilates?

One really isn’t better or worse than the other. What might be better for you depends on your intentions, goals, and condition.

If you’re looking for a low-intensity practice that will help relieve stress and provide feelings of relaxation, yoga may be the exercise for you.

If a strong core and toned muscles are your priority, then Pilates may be your choice.

In the end, you may not need to choose. Give them both a try and see if you’d like to find a way to fit them both into your fitness routines.

Heal Your Mind and Body Energy Through Body & Brain Yoga Tai Chi’s Fundamental Yoga Practices

When you’re ready to give yoga a try, Body & Brain Yoga and Tai Chi offers yoga classes that help develop flexibility, strength, and energy. We’ll guide you through yoga practices and breathing techniques aimed at centering your awareness and leaving you recharged and rejuvenated.

Our Korean yoga classes can be described as a blend of yoga and martial arts and are developed on the premise that physical health, spiritual satisfaction, and emotional well-being are integrated. This style of yoga is easily adapted to many physical conditions, and doesn’t emphasize inverted or very difficult “poses.”

What can you expect in our yoga classes? Korean yoga classes include:

• Warm-up exercises
• Deep stretching
• Core strengthening and breathing postures
• Energy meditation
• Cool down exercises

Many of our clients leave our yoga classes feeling:

• Relaxed
• Lighter
• Stronger; and
• More centered

To experience these benefits for yourself, consider joining a class or scheduling a private session. In this session, one of our trained instructors will evaluate your current energy condition and guide you in a one-on-one Korean yoga practice.

Begin your journey to a more relaxed and connected lifestyle with Body & Brain Yoga and Tai Chi.