The Differences Between Yoga & Pilates (and some similarities too!)

The essential difference between Yoga and Pilates is that Pilates is exercise for the physical body alone, whereas Yoga seeks to create harmony between the mind, body and spirit. Pilates and Yoga share several similarities, for example they both have the ability to create a strong, lean and flexible body, but they also differ in many ways.

Some of the most notable differences between Yoga and Pilates include:

In a yoga practice the state of mind is as important as the physical actions you complete. Students of Yoga are encouraged to free their mind during a practice. In Pilates participants are generally just instructed to perform the moves effectively.

Side Bend

One of the aims of Yoga is self-realisation, so most Yoga practices end with some form of meditation or deep relaxation to ensure the mind is in a tranquil state. Generally Pilates classes end with stretches and encouragement to continue to practice.

Yoga is generally performed as quietly as possible, the instructor will give teaching points and demonstrations but the pupil is asked to ‘feel’ what is good for their own body. During a Pilates class there will be constant instruction, guidance and adjustments.

Yoga has been practiced for thousands of years, Pilates was only created in the 1920’s.

Pilates has a more scientific basis than yoga which is more of a time tested approach.

In yoga you are taught many different types of breathing both to facilitate movement and as stand- alone exercises. Pilates breathing is also used to facilitate movement but there is only one style.


Pilates and Yoga do share many similarities, including:

  • Both are low impact forms of exercise.
  • They pair physical movements with controlled breathing.
  • Many of the moves use the core for stabilisation, helping create a strong back and abdominal muscles.
  • Neither are competitive forms of exercise and the participants are encouraged to work at their own pace.
  • The exercises increase flexibility and create long, lean muscles.
  • Gentle versions of both are suitable for people of all fitness levels and abilities. Older people benefit from increased mobility, adaptations can be made for pregnancy, injury and health conditions.
  • Both help with coordination and balance.

What we do:

Many Natural Fitness Centre clients do both classes. Some have tried both and enjoy one more and some go through stages of doing one more than the other. We don’t mind and just want you to find what benefits your body the best!

For our full timetable of classes please click here.

There is a free introductory session for Pilates each month where the differences are also discussed. The sessions are held on the last Monday of the month unless it falls on a Bank Holiday in which case it’s the one before. They start at 6.30 pm and last for 45 minutes.

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