What's the difference between Pilates and Yoga?

Before we discuss the differences, let's start with the similarities between Pilates and Yoga. To start, both Pilates and Yoga can be physically intense or physically restorative. Both practices, done with consistency, can provide a pathway to a greater understanding of self and spirit. Ultimately, both attempt to tap into the core of the body, mind and spirit through movement and breath.

The greatest difference between Pilates and Yoga is the path each discipline takes to reach the core. Yoga adopts an internal approach. Pilates takes an external approach.

Yoga: An Internal Approach to Well Being.

Yoga begins with stillness. In yoga, time is taken at the beginning of class to find harmony between the body, the mind and the spirit. It is a process of breathing, letting go and becoming present. Once accomplished, the poses and movements become the means for moving energy through the body so your entire system feels at ease, connected and balanced by the end of class. The path towards harmony is manifested from the inside, then slowly, expansively moves outward.

Pilates: An External Approach to Well Being.

Pilates begins with action. The exercises, the movement patterns themselves, are the vehicle driving us towards increased awareness, greater balance, and connection to our mental and physical centers. To experience the synchronicity of the body mind and spirit in Pilates, we focus on breath, on letting go and on becoming present. The path to harmony initiates from the outside, then deliberately and precisely moves inward.

A major difference between the practices is their longevity: Yoga has been around for 5000 years, and Pilates was invented only 100 years ago. To learn more about the origins of both practices, read Sherri Betz’s exploration.

In the end, you don't have to choose between the two. Your Pilates workout can compliment your Yoga workout and vice versa. Do both, mix it up, or focus on Pilates. The key is to keep moving!

About the Author

Kristi Cooper

Kristi Cooper is a Co-founder of Pilates Anytime and a seasoned Pilates professional. Her approach to Pilates maintains that the exercises practiced in the Pilates method are the vehicle which drive us towards increased awareness, balance, and vitality.

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