Pilates v Yoga: what’s the difference?

At first glance yoga and Pilates seem similar; but what are the differences between the two?

Yoga has a deeper, philosophical basis
Firstly, they originate from completely different places and traditions.

Yoga originated in India and has a deep, philosophical basis through its Hindu and Buddhist connections.  It focuses on uniting the body, mind and spirit to bring about harmony and well-being.

Alternatively, Pilates was first born in the early 1900's when Joseph Pilates devised a series of exercises to help injured World War I soldiers recover from battle injuries.  When Pilates moved to the USA his system of exercise became popular with dancers who loved the strong, lean muscles his techniques developed.

Yoga and Pilates also focus on different exercises and movements.
Pilates has controlled movements and doesn't focus on poses
Yoga emphasises breathing (known as pranayama) and poses (known as asana).  Each pose has specific physical and mental health benefits ranging from improved flexibility, strength, vitality, organ function and stress relief. Meditation is a common feature in most yoga classes.

Pilates puts emphasis on the body and mind connection but there is no spiritual focus. Movements are controlled and precise. Pilates encourages people to breathe in through their nose and out through the mouth, it doesn’t focus on poses, but a series of exercises that target the abdomen, legs, arms and back.

But the two have some similarities.

Both Pilates and yoga are designed to use your own body weight to create resistance and thereby improve muscle strength and endurance.  Both also have many physical benefits including improved flexibility, balance, posture and muscle tone.


Monash Sport offers both Pilates and yoga classes across their three campuses, so whether you want to come see the difference for yourself, experience the physical and mental effects of a class or simply mix up your fitness routine, our yoga and Pilates classes are for everyone – from beginner to advanced.