Yoga or Pilates? What is the difference between those 2?

14 mei ,2021

Yoga or Pilates: what exactly is the difference between those two? Many people place Yoga and Pilates in the same training category, but they are different practices, each with their own origins. Both focus on the connection between the body and the breath, and include low-impact movements that you perform on a mat. Yet both movement forms are different.

After this article, you might undoubtedly prefer Yoga or Pilates. Or maybe both, because personally I think they make a wonderful combination.

Yoga or Pilates

There are a few similarities between Yoga and Pilates:

  • Body and mind-connection: the mind is involved while you do physical work.
  • Breathing is important.
  • Resistance training to shape the muscles.
  • Can serve as therapy, for example with injuries or disorders.
  • A slow, intense routine that can be done in a group or one-on-one.
  • Gives the body a better shape.


What to expect in a class?

Every yoga class is different and every teacher has his / her own way of teaching. So you never know in advance what to expect from your first class.

Make sure to read the class descriptions, or ask the teacher or studio what to expect before attending a yoga class.

If you have physical complaints, injuries or certain aches and pains, please inform the teacher before the start of the class. This way he / she can give you modifications of positions that still give you a pleasant and painless teaching experience.

The goal

The different types of yoga postures work your entire body. Each pose is supplemented with a counter pose to work the opposite muscle group. Teachers often base a class on a certain group of yoga positions, such as backward or forward bends, twists, standing and inverted postures, or arm-balancing postures.
Props aren’t always necessary in most yoga classes, but many teachers use blocks or straps to help students get into poses. Some yoga forms, such as Iyengar Yoga, do use props, such as bolsters, meditation cushions, chairs, …


Breathwork is called pranayama in Sanskrit (the language of Yoga). The breath is considered a source of life energy that channels through your body. The purpose of the breath is to cultivate and control this basic life force.

Yoga classes can use many different techniques of pranayama. Some classes encourage breathwork throughout the class, while others devote a portion of the class to breathing. Typically, classes will practice ujjayi (“victorious”) breaths throughout the class, combining each pose or transition between poses with an in-breath or an out-breath. This is a three-part diaphragmatic breath, inhale and exhale through the nose, while slightly squeezing the throat to make the breath audible.


Yoga and spirituality are inextricably intertwined in practice. This is due to the historical roots of yoga. Every pose is grounded in meditation. A yoga practice classically ends in Savasana (Corpse Pose) for a moment of silence to meditate. This is the best part of a yoga class!


What to expect in a class?

Pilates classes are more consistent from day to day. Typically, Pilates exercises are performed lying on your back, stomach, or on your side. The low-impact strengthening and flexibility exercises are performed on a mat with minimal equipment (although some specialty Pilates studios have reformer machines).

There are different levels of Pilates from beginner to advanced, but unlike yoga, there are no different styles within Traditional Pilates.

The goal

Pilates exercises are based on the principle that every movement comes from the core. The exercises are usually small, isolated movements and are repeated in sets. The goal of a class is to focus on spine alignment and strengthen the core to have total control over your movements.

“Contrology (Pilates) uniformly develops the body, corrects incorrect postures, restores physical vitality, invigorates the mind, and uplifts the mind.”

Joseph Pilates


In Pilates, practitioners are aware of their breath throughout class – inhaling through the nose (when the pose is easy) and exhaling through the mouth (when the pose requires more effort). Unlike yoga, no different breathing techniques are used, nor are specific parts of the class dedicated to breathwork. Rather, breathing is a consistent and constant effort.


The slower pace of a Pilates class can have stress-relieving effects for many participants, but it does not create a specific spiritual experience.

POP Pilates

POP Pilates is a Total Body workout where you only need your body weight and a mat. The workout consists of the classic, but also modernized pilates postures. The movements are performed to the beat of your favorite TOP40 song.

You will work on your flexibility and muscle strengthening, and focus on breathing in combination with a correct posture. A different muscle group is targeted with each song. That is why POP Pilates feels like “a dance on the mat“. It provides a wonderful, happy feeling afterwards.

Yoga or Pilates, what do I prefer?

I really love the combination of Yoga and Pilates. Yoga brings me peace and rest and allows me to connect with my body, whilst Pilates makes me more aware with control over my body and the movements.

Maybe you only like Yoga or Pilates and that is perfect! As long as you find something that you like doing. It will help with your motivation and also benefits not only your physical- and mental-, but also emotional health.

Also remember that you have to find a teacher who fits with your needs and wishes. Maybe you might like my Yoga and (future) Pilates classes. Who knows? 🙂

Follow along with my online Yoga videos

Would you like to start with Yoga or Pilates? Make sure to check out our Beginners Yoga Program. You can also follow along with weekly uploads on YouTube.