Pilates and Yoga - Similarities and Differences

Generally speaking Pilates and Yoga are both exercise systems. There are similarities as Pilates was developed from Yoga in the twenties of XX century. But there are also differences as Yoga is a much broader set of philosophical and physical ideas with its tradition reaching hundreds of years BC.


1. Importance of stretching. 
2. Importance of strengthening 
3. Importance of concentration.
4. Importance of control. 
5. Importance of breath. 
6. Importance of gradual development.


1. The biggest difference is that Yoga is a much more than a set of physical exercises -asanas (Sanskrit word for a pose). Asana is only one of the eight "limbs" of Yoga, the majority of which are more concerned with mental and spiritual well-being than physical activity. In the West, however, the words asana and Yoga are often being used interchangeably.

2. Pilates is more a regular set of exercises when comparing to many different types of Yoga offering various combinations and techniques (Iyengar, Vinjasa, Hatha, Kundalini..).

3. Pilates promotes the body - mind connection through concentration but doesn't involve meditation or other relaxing techniques. Pilates also doesn't have any philosophical or moral teaching behind itself.

4. Pilates puts huge emphasis on strengthening the pelvic core muscles.

5. Breathing. In Yoga - Pranayama is a set of different breathing practices performed solely without physical exercising, or included into physical exercises. In Yoga we sometimes hold a breath. In Pilates most of the time we use only one type of breathing - Lateral Breathing and we never hold the breath.

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Pilates and Yoga workouts promote:

* strength and balanced development of muscles
* flexibility
* increased range of motion for the joints
* coordination of movement with breath

Generally speaking, Pilates and Yoga can help you to improve your body awareness and posture, help to eliminate pains which are very often due to a wrong posture, too weak or too tense muscles. They can also help eliminate your body fat, improve your circulation and increase your ability to relax. 


Pilates and Yoga:

1. Are the Whole-Body Fitness.

They train the body as an integrated whole, does not over-develop some parts of the body and neglect others. Attention to core support and full-body fitness - including the breath and the mind, provide a level of integrative fitness that is hard to find elsewhere.

2. Adaptable to Many Fitness Levels and Needs

Whether you are a senior just starting to exercise, an elite athlete or somewhere in between the foundations of Pilates and yoga movement may apply to you. With tens of possible exercises and modifications, Pilates and yoga workouts can be tailored to your individual needs. Whether you want to build strength or improve flexibility or focus on the proper alignment or the body- mind integrative approach, Pilates and yoga are resoursful enough to help you in achieving your goal.

3. Create Strength Without Bulk

In Pilates and Yoga, we are not looking to build muscles for show. We are building toned muscles that work perfectly within the context of the body as a whole, and the functional fitness needs of a person as they move through life. One of the ways that Pilates and Yoga creates long, strong muscles is by taking advantage of a type of muscle contraction called an eccentric contraction.

4. Increase Flexibility

In Pilates and Yoga we work toward a safe increase in length and stretch of the muscles and range of motion within the joints. You won't find quite as much stretching in Pilates as you might in Yoga, but a body that can stretch and bend to meet the flow of life is a very realistic goal.

5. Develop Core Strength

The core muscles of the body are the deep muscles of the back, abdomen and pelvic floor. These are the muscles we rely on to support a strong, supple back, good posture, and efficient movement patterns. When the core is strong, the frame of the body is supported. This means the neck and shoulders can relax, and the rest of the muscles and joints are freed to do their jobs - and not more. A nice side benefit is that the core training promotes the flat abs that most of us like. Pilates is putting a higher attention to the strong pelvic core when comparing to traditional yoga, but most of modern yoga instructors also take care of it.

6. Improve Posture

A good posture is a reflection of good alignment of muscles supported by a strong core. It is a position from which one can move freely. Pilates and Yoga train the body to express itself with strength and harmony. You can see this in the beautiful posture of those who practice Pilates and Yoga.

7. Increase Energy

The more you exercise, the more energy you have and the more you feel like doing (to a point, of course). Pilates and Yoga get the breath and circulation moving, stimulate the spine and muscles, and flood the body with the good feelings one gets from exercising the whole body.

8. Promotes Weight Loss and Lean Appearance

If you practice Pilates or/and Yoga regularly, it will change your body. Pilates and Yoga are known for creating long, strong muscles and a leaner look; Pilates and Yoga improve muscle tone, balance musculature, support beautiful posture, and teach you to move with ease and grace. All of these things will make you look and feel better and nicer. If you want to lose weight, the formula for weight loss remains the same: Burn more calories than you take in. As a full-body fitness method, Pilates and Yoga will help you do that. Combined with aerobic activity, Pilates and Yoga become a prime weight loss and body toning tool.

9. Increase Body Awareness

Doing yoga and Pilates will give you an increased awareness of your own body. You are often called upon to make small, subtle movements to improve your alignment. Over time, this will increase your level of comfort in your own body. This can lead to improved posture and greater self-confidence.

Yoga Additional Benefits

Better Breathing

Most of us breathe very shallowly into the lungs and don't give much thought to how we breathe. Yoga breathing exercises, called Pranayama, focus the attention on the breath and teach us how to better use our lungs, which benefits the entire body. Certain types of breath can also help clear the nasal passages and even calm the central nervous system, which has both physical and mental benefits.

Mental Calmness

Yoga asanas practice is intensely physical. Concentrating so on what the body is doing has the effect of bringing calmness to the mind. Yoga can also introduce to meditation techniques, which can help to relax.

Stress Reduction

Physical activity is good for relieving stress, and this is particularly true of yoga. Because of the concentration required, your daily troubles, both large and small, seem to melt away during the time you are doing yoga. This provides a much-needed break from your stressors, as well as helping put things into perspective. The emphasis yoga places on being in the moment can also help relieve stress, as you learn not to dwell on past events or anticipate the future. You will leave a yoga class feeling less stressed than when you started. Read more about yoga for stress management here.

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Pilates is a form of exercise, developed by Joseph Pilates, which emphasizes the balanced development of the body through core strength, flexibility, and awareness in order to support efficient, painless and balanced movement. Pilates exercise may work well for a wide range of people.

Athletes and dancers love it, as do seniors, women rebounding from pregnancy, and people who are at various stages of physical rehabilitation. Each exercise has a modality for a beginner and advanced person, so you don't need to worry if you aren't an athlete, Pilates is to help you to become more comfortable with performance of your body.

Pilates exercises are done on a mat on the floor, or on exercise equipment developed by Joseph Pilates. Both are good, although a class with the equipment can be more expensive and time demanding. Mat Pilates can be done nearly anywhere and anytime, you just need your will, some knowledge, a mat and your body. 
Many exercises / poses are similar to those in Hatha Yoga as Joseph Pilates treated Yoga as a source of his fitness system but he omitted philosophical charge and underpinned it with Western scientific knowledge of the body dynamics.

Joseph Pilates originally called his work "contrology." He considered this to be a body/mind/spirit approach to movement founded on the integrative effect of principles such as centering, concentration, control, precision, breath, and flow. Whether one is working out on a mat or using Pilates equipment, like the reformer or cadillac, these basic principles infuse each exercise.

Six Pilates Principles:

1. Centering
Physically bringing the focus to the center of the body, the powerhouse area between the lower ribs and pubic bone. Energetically, Pilates exercises are sourced from center.

2. Concentration
If one brings full attention to the exercise and does it with full commitment, maximum value will be obtained from each movement.

3. Control
Each Pilates exercise is done with complete muscular control. None of the body part is left to its own devices. 

4. Precision
In Pilates, awareness is sustained throughout each movement. There is an appropriate placement, alignment relative to other body parts, and trajectory for each part of the body.

5. Breath
Joseph Pilates emphasized using a very full breath in his exercises. He advocated thinking of the lungs as a bellows - using them strongly to pump the air fully in and out of the body. Most Pilates exercises coordinate with the breath, and using the breath properly is an integral part of Pilates exercise. 

6. Flow
Pilates exercise is done in a flowing manner. Fluidity, grace, and ease are goals applied to all exercises. The energy of an exercise connects all body parts and flows through the body in an even way. 
Pilates equipment, like the reformer, are very good mirrors of one's flow and concentration as they tend to bang around and suddenly become quite "machine-like" if one loses ones control and flow.


Integration of these principles accounts for the balance, grace, and ease that one can experience as a result of practicing Pilates.

For many, these six principles are the foundation of the Pilates approach to exercise.
Their application to the Pilates method of exercise is part of what makes it unique in the fitness world.
It is important to note that Joseph Pilates did not directly set out the Pilates principles. They are concepts distilled from Joseph Pilates' work by later instructors. Because of this, there is not always agreement in the Pilates community about the order of the principles, the specific words used for certain concepts, or the number of principles. Nevertheless, you will find some version of the Pilates principles - similar to what I present here-to be part of almost any Pilates training program you pursue.

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I am trained in Hatha yoga, the Shivananda style which I favour as it is 'the mother' of Yoga known to Westerns, it means that nearly all styles we practice in Europe and America have grown from it, including Pilates.

Hatha yoga encompasses nearly all aspects of yoga in general - asana, pranayama, meditation, chanting. It is holistic, balanced and doesn't involve any philosophical charge other than care of physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.

You can design your session up to your physical and mental condition. It can be slow or dynamic, concentrating on physicality or mental and emotional aspects, depending on your needs. A session with me will be tailored specifically to your health state and preferences.


Generally speaking, Yoga is a system of physical and mental  exercises. Its origin is very complex, reaching hundreds of years BC of Indian philosophical thought and practice. The first,  known to us,  written yoga system is the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali(400-200 BC). Another, seen as canonical, text  is Hatha jogapradipika by Swami Swatmarama (XIII DC). Yoga is a Sanskrit world and  means to yoke, to harness, to join, to unite .
In a simplified manner we can say that Yoga seeks to harness the energy of the body and mind to use it more beneficially.
There are many methods to achieve it and variations of ultimate purpose of it,  hence there were and there are many different schools and types of yoga - Hatha , Ashtanga, Vinjasa, Tantra , Krija, Iyengar, Bikram, etc. 
If you wish to  understand  Yoga better it is good to know that there are Six Paths and Eight Limbs of Yoga. The difference between  schools and types of yoga its most often based in putting  more emphasis  on and  slight reinterpretation of different points shortly described  below.

Six Paths:

1. Bhakti Yoga - devotion/love. To achieve the ultimate goal, the Bhakti  practitioner must meditate upon the supreme being, and behave unselfishly towards his or her fellow man.

2. Jnana  Yoga - wisdom and knowledge. The  Jinana practitioner studies reality and texts to understand theUniverse and  life.

3. Karma Yoga -action and work. The karma practitioner achieves his goals through his deeds.

4. Mantra Yoga - sound. The Mantra practitioner makes neutral/abstract  sounds or sings poems.

5. Hatha Yoga - strengthening of physical body. Hatha practitioner exercises asanas and  applies body cleansing techniques.

6. Raja Yoga - strengthening the mind and will.

Eight Limbs:

1.The Abstinences  (Yamas):

a) Nonviolence  (Ahimsa) - not harming anything or anybody in any way.
b) Truthfulness  (Satya) - not lying to yourself and others, to live with integrity.
c) Non-stealing  (Asteya) -  not taking somebody's' money, things, rights, time, energy, etc.
d) Continence  (Bramachanya) - being moderate in everything, avoidance of being the slave of one's desires.
e) Non- Possessiveness ( Aparigrapha) - not becoming a slave ( attaching yourself too much ) of things, money, other people, etc. not envying what others have.

2.The Observances (Niyamas):

a) Purity (Saucha) - the cleanliness of the internal, external body and the mind.
b) Contentment  (Santosha) -  acceptance of Now, an acknowledgment  of each moment, good or bad, that makes up your life.
c) Austerity (Tapas) - the observance of discipline and simplicity.
d) Study (Svadhyaya)  -  the study of life and its meaning through reading, observing, exploring and work.
e) Attentiveness to the divine (Ishvara Pranidhana) - transcendenting the own ego  to a higher being or a higher goal.

3. Steady  Poses ( Asanas) -physical exercises. There are many different poses and variations of them.

4. Breathing  (Pranayama) - Various  breathing techniques aiming to purify the body , calm the mind, nurture all the system. Breathing is  the Life force extension.

5. Sensory Withdrawal (Pratyahara) - the conscious effort to draw our awareness away from the external world and outside stimuli. Turning our attention internally. Looking at yourself.

6. Concentration (Dharana) - slowing down the thinking process by concentrating on a single mental object: a specific energetic center in the body, an image of a deity, or the silent repetition of a sound. 

7. Meditation (Dhyana) - uninterrupted  flow of concentration.

8. Enlightenment , State of Ecstasy (Samadhi) - you merge with your  point of focus and transcend  the Self ,you feel an interconnectedness with all living things, the experience of being one with the Universe.


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Benefits of One to One session

Group sessions can be great fun and less costly but not always and for everybody. One to one sessions are especially recommended if you are a beginner with weak or non knowledge in the field of anatomy and physiology of exercising.

In one to one session:

1. You have a set of exercises specifically tailord to your condition, needs and prefernces.

2. The trainer is presenting and explainig to you every exercise you do. Answers every question you ask.

3. The trainer assists you and corrects you when you perform exercises so you are protected from injuring yourself.

4. The trainer is encouraging you in gaining your desired results.

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