How is Pilates different than Yoga?

Many people put Pilates in the same category as yoga, but the truth is that yoga and Pilates are totally different forms of exercise. Pilates was developed by Joseph Pilates in the first half of the 20th century, and originally called “Contrology.” Fundamentally, Pilates is about learning healthy and sustainable muscle-use patterns (for example, not overusing big muscle groups or underusing smaller ones), as well as building core strength and coordinated movement and breath techniques.

Unlike Pilates, Yoga incorporates spiritual components (after all, it is a 5000-year-old technique), but is similar in its focus on stretching, flexibility, and core strength. Where the real difference lies is in the practice and execution of movements. While Yoga is comprised mostly of holding static positions, Pilates is a more active form of movement, usually requiring 4 – 6 repetitions of most exercises, with an emphasis on perfect form rather than heavy resistance (like weights) or reaching muscle fatigue.

Most modern-day classes generally follow Joseph Pilates’ original routine and order of exercises, which range from beginner to advanced, either on floor mats (using little or no equipment) or on the “Reformer” or “Cadillac,” two pieces of equipment Pilates developed to assist with completing his exercise regimen. The routine and progressive levels of classes makes Pilates a much more structured activity than yoga, with consistent goals and routines – although many teachers modify routines based on their own teaching philosophy, or to customize them for individual needs (maybe for rehabilitation or specific sports training).

What kind of results should I expect from Pilates vs yoga classes?

Pilates classes should teach you practical lessons about how to move properly, which you can apply to other workouts (including yoga). While good yoga teachers will also teach correct movement techniques, Pilates focuses on executing good form throughout active, complex movements, rather than focusing as much on stretching and flexibility.

Despite their differences (and huge age gap), both Pilates and yoga are considered to be effective at treating pain, supplementing other athletic activities (such as weightlifting or other sports), and just maintaining overall physical health.

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