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Fun Look At Pilates Vs Yoga

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Fun Look At Pilates Vs Yoga

The first question I get from many people when I tell them I own a pilates studio here in Singapore is "Is Pilates like yoga?". 

Spoiler - it's not. But let's get into the details.

I can see why the layperson would think they're the same. They've probably seen images of people with hands on the floor, who are normally barefoot, doing something resembling a stretch. And let's face it, yoga has been around for a lot longer than pilates! Some argue as far back as 5000 years ago!

In a way, it seems that yoga is easier to understand because it's more familiar. It's been around for longer and spans multiple cultures. And yoga is pretty much the 'go-to' when people want to become flexible because it's pretty impressive how bendy Yogi's can be!

That being said, let's get right down to how pilates and yoga can be similar, yet very different. 

The Similarity Between Pilates And Yoga

  1. On the face of it, if a woman was dressed in leggings, swanky sports bra, and a tank top and was barefoot or wearing non slip cute socks, one can safely assume she's going to a pilates or yoga class.
    A lot of money has been made on this apparel! Shorts are not normally worn because our legs can be up in the air, or spread in a V and no one wants to be doing the Gynae pose in a class! Of course, you could wear this attire while in the gym or other forms of exercise too. As a past runner though, I wore shorts because it heat needs to be released and leggings can be much thicker. 

  2. They both use bodyweight as resistance. There is a huge caveat here though. 
    In Pilates you also have machines which I'll come back to later. Yoga is mostly done with some small props but it's generally your bodyweight. The basic pilates exercises (in the category of Mat Pilates) is also done with props and bodyweight. 

  3. They are both known as "mind body" pratices. 
    This isn't to say that other forms of exercise aren't. But you will actively connect to parts of your body to perform a yoga or pilates movement. There is a huge amount of emphasis on this.  

  4. They can both get you more flexible.
    A lot of yoga and pilates movements use the whole body, even if one part is actually doing the movement. Yoga may be the poster child for flexibilty as it's so well known for that, but pilates can definitely help get you flexible. 

  5. They both focus on breath.
    In weight training, if you're lifting very heavy weights you'll be trained to hold your breath to create intra abdominal pressure to support your spine. This is not the case with pilates and yoga. There is big focus on breathing, although, the emphasis on where in the body you breath into is different. 

  6. A lot of exercises are named after things that exist, like nature, animals or object.
    In weight training, a lot of exercises are pretty much "it is what it is". Like, a squat. Or, a shoulder press. But in pilates you have exercises like Climb a Tree, Mermaid, and Plow. And in yoga, you have the famous Downward Dog, Tree and Warriors pose. 

The Differences Between Pilates and Yoga

  1. While yoga was first practised some thousand of years ago, pilates was created by a man called Joseph Pilates in the 1930s. Yoga has it's foundations in spirituality, while Pilates started as a means of rehabilitation and strength building (in particular ballet dancers in New York). 

  2. Pilates uses machines
    While pilates can be done with just your body, the fun in pilates is to have various equipments that you can use. The most famous and used machine in Pilates is the Reformer, where you can stand, sit, kneel, lie down, and use one side of your limbs or both, and the resistance is created by springs. The versatility of this equipment has meant that there are thousands of exercises that can be created and done on the reformer. 
    Other pilates equipment are the cadillac, the chair, and the ladder barrel. 

  3. Focus of the breath is different.
    While both emphasise breath during movements, yoga tends to be more deep belly breathing, while Pilates focuses on 3 dimensional breath in the rib cage. It's also common for pilates to exhale during the resistance (hard) part of the movement, while the opposite happens in yoga. 

  4. Pilates can be more gently for rehab and the older population. 
    This is because the machines used (reformer, chair, cadillac) can have the person in a seated / standing position - indeed, any position that is required for them to be comfortable. Also, pilates can focus on the particular muscle or body part that requires rehabilitation. That's why nearly every physio you go to has a reformer in their clinic. 

  5. Yoga has a lot of poses that you hold, without moving. Pilates has more flow, with repetitions for each exercise. 


What's better? I can't answer that question for you. Both have extremely valuable benefits for everyone. It can also be a fit for your personality. While I'm a pilates and a gym person, I did gentle yoga when I was recovering from cancer because I needed something to help alleviate my anxiety, so my oncologist suggested I try gentle restoring yoga.

Full disclosure - I'm not a yoga person. I've tried it a few times, and it's just not for me. But this wasn't intended to say one is better than the other. Far from it! I just tried to give a cursory, fun overview of how pilates and yoga are same but different.

In the end, the choice of course is yours. And why not do both? And then throw in some weight training and some hill sprints or walking and you'll end up with a fabulous weekly routine for the rest of your life!


What to do next

If you're interested in finding out how pilates + weight training can help you get stronger, be healthier, more flexible, lose weight, then contact us to book a call with a Coach so we can find out if are the studio for you! After all, all we want is for you to Commit To A Better You!


*Photo by Jordan Nix on Unsplash


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