Are you interested in yoga and Pilates but don’t know which to choose? Discover the differences and find out which is best for you.

People often talk about Pilates and yoga classes in the same breath. The truth is, whilst the two share similarities, and most of the exercise equipment used in each is the same, but they come from very different roots and have different goals. How do you know which is best for you?


Yoga stems from ancient practices and is based on stillness, meditation and using the breath to encourage stretching in the muscles and ligaments. Today’s yoga classes can be fast-paced, with flowing movements, and can even be conducted in heated rooms. But at its roots, yoga is about sitting with the breath, finding your stillness, and encouraging the body to open up. Modern yoga classes offered in fitness centres, gyms and by Personal Trainers tend to focus on yoga’s ability to provide a great stretch to the body and assist with range of movement. Classes will often start with a flow called Sun Salutation before moving through other familiar poses, like a Warrior sequence. Yoga can be relaxing or challenging, and may even feel like a cardiovascular workout if you choose a faster-paced style of class.

You might choose to teach yoga if you:

  • Enjoy learning flowing movements and choreographing yoga poses
  • Prefer to teach a slower-paced style of class
  • Don’t want to teach exercise to music or prefer to use calming music
  • Want to offer clients a gentle, holistic form of exercise
  • Wish to specialise in teaching yoga to specific populations

You might choose to go to yoga classes if you:

  • Are looking for a class that will give you a good stretch
  • Want to find time to relax, learn to unwind, and use breathing techniques
  • Feel stiff, tight or sore from your exercise or daily lifestyle
  • Like the idea of encouraging a better posture and more range of movement
  • Don’t like fast-paced, loud, sweaty, group exercise classes


Pilates focuses on your body’s natural movements with gentle, precise exercises with target your postural muscles. Like yoga, you work with your breath, but unlike yoga, Pilates uses specific exercises, rather than held poses. Pilates can improve posture, joint mobility, strength and flexibility and is a great tool for getting people out of back pain or minimising the chances of postural pain in the future. It’s also a good choice for women, particularly after pregnancy, as it targets the core and pelvic area.

You might choose to teach Pilates if you:

  • Are interested in helping clients improve their posture in everyday life
  • Want to focus on teaching core strength
  • Have a target client base that wants to develop a taller, leaner looking body
  • Want to deeply-immerse yourself in learning about the Pilates system and its exercises
  • Would like to really specialise in a niche offering

You might choose to go to Pilates classes if you:

  • Experience problems with your posture or have joint pain
  • Have a need to improve your balance and co-ordination
  • Are coming back to exercise after injury or back pain
  • Want to really get control of your core, abs or pelvic floor
  • Enjoy a structured type of workout with clear progress

Are you interested in teaching yoga or Pilates? Which would suit your personality and style of teaching best?

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Centre of Excellence User
Centre of Excellence User
— February 7, 2017 23:28:11
I like that you talked about the different things to look for when you are choosing between yoga and pilates. I think that a lot of people think that their preference works best. However, we are all different. You want to be sure that you are going with the right workout for your needs. Do you have any other tips, maybe about finding a pilates instructor?
Mark Harrison
Mark Harrison
— February 20, 2017 10:34:56
Thanks for getting in touch, Johnny. You’re right, it comes down to what works best for the individual. We also have articles on the benefits of Yoga that are not often explained and the how Yoga can be used as a part of the practice of mindfulness.
Centre of Excellence User
Centre of Excellence User
— October 27, 2017 01:25:03
I want to improve my movement and posture, so I'm considering getting a professional to help me out. My husband suggested that I try yoga, however, since long hold positions make me sleepy, I prefer to do exercises. I like the way you compared them and how you mentioned that Pilates focuses on my postural muscles because that's what I'm concerned of. Thanks for the wonderful article.
Centre of Excellence User
Centre of Excellence User
— February 24, 2019 18:59:29
I am hoping I could get some advice. I am 74 years old with high blood pressure and heart valve disease. I worked out at the gym for many years while working but into retirement I do little other than walking with a group. My balance is not good and was concerned about this and decided to join our local sports centre where I now have membership for classes gym and swimming. I have not used the swimming pool although I can swim, use the gym equipment for prevention of osteoporosis and walking on the treadmill and have been given a programme by the instructor to follow. I have been to three classes a week for the last 2 months, Body flow, Gentle Pilates, and Yoga. Until 10 days ago I have been fine but I now have a bad back after my last Plates class. Low back pain and difficulty in bending and getting up and down. Clearly there are things which I am doing which my back does not like, I have never had any back problems at all before this. Should I wait until my back is alright again and return to the classes, give up the classes all together or can you offer advice. When I mentioned the low back ache before this kicked off the Pilates instructor said she always aches, the Yoga instructor thought it might be core exercises that have caused the problem.
Mark Harrison
Mark Harrison
— February 25, 2019 10:41:26
Hi Jean, Our advice would be to visit your GP. Whilst taking on a new form of exercise can leave you achy, it is important to consult with a medical practitioner beforehand or at least now that you have incurred injuries. Someone with relevant knowledge of your conditions will be best placed to advise you on how to proceed.
Centre of Excellence User
Centre of Excellence User
— July 10, 2019 15:47:57
Nice information, thank you

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