Pilates or Yoga, which practise is best for you?

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The differences


Pilates originated in Germany during the Second World War. Joseph Pilates created a form of strengthening exercises to rehabilitate bedridden soldiers. The origins of Yoga have been speculated to date back to around the sixth and fifth century BC in ancient India. Yoga gurus later introduced to practice to the west and in the 1980’s yoga became a popular form of exercise across the Western world.

The Class

Pilates is more structured and likely to be very similar at any studio. Yoga consists of a more flexible routine incorporating a form of meditation through a combination of postures, sequences and variations.


Pilates traditionally incorporates more dynamic stretches (slow and controlled movements) whereas Yoga makes use of static stretches (holding a stretch for a long period of time). Different trainers might choose to incorporate both regardless.


Pilates places emphasis on using the deep abdominal and pelvic floor muscles to maintain trunk stability while the limbs are in motion while Yoga focusses on anatomical alignment.


In some classes Pilates is done on intricate machines such as the Reformer or Cadillac (beds made up of either a sliding carriage and/or adjustable springs to regulate tension and resistance). Yoga uses props such as blankets, straps and blocks to ease into certain poses. Equipment is not always required though.


Both emphasise the importance of breathing and quite a portion of a class can be dedicated to breathing work. Natural breathing patterns are coordinated with each movement to create and move energy through the body.

Both also work to connect body and mind. Exploring the body/mind/spirit connection is encouraged and focus is placed on how this connection between the mind and body helps in everyday life

The benefits


  • increases flexibility
  • increases muscle strength and tone
  • improves respiration, energy and vitality
  • improves cardio and circulatory health


  • Improve core strength and stability
  • Improve posture and balance
  • Improve flexibility
  • Prevent and treat back pain

Though Pilates and Yoga have some key similarities, they are two very different practices.

Why not take the time this winter to try out a few classes and have fun figuring out which one you enjoy most!

Information compiled by Jacqueline Kimme.

Contact train@fit4u.co.za should you be interested in a Pilates program.