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4 Weeks to a New You: Week One 

Yoga Vs Pilates: What's the Difference & What's Right for Me?

This year should be about taking some time out for you. We’re all guilty of ‘Going-all-out-then-burn-out' for their new year resolution in the past, often not making it to the 31st January with our resolutions still in place. So by now, we should realise we can do these things for our own wellbeing one step at a time, any time.  

That’s what we’re doing here at Joe Browns HQ, so why not join us on our 4-week program to develop better habits? This week we’ve been inspired by our brand-new Sloe Joes activewear and yoga wear – and the one question that’s on our minds is: Yoga versus Pilates. What’s the difference and which is right for me? 

Yoga Vs. Pilates: What’s the Difference and What’s Right for Me? 

Yoga and Pilates seem like two peas in a pod, right? Actually, they’re very different in a lot of ways. Let’s delve into the history of both (though we’re merely scratching the surface!) 

What is Yoga?

Yoga is a spiritual and mental practice that originated in India around 4 – 5,000 years ago. Rather than an exercise, it’s classed as a discipline that involves holding body positions and stretching your muscles while concentrating on your breathing. There are many different forms of yoga (for example, Kundalini, Vinyasa and Bikram yoga), but they share the same aim: To still the mind in preparation for meditation.  

What is Pilates? 

Compared to yoga that has spanned millennia, Pilates is actually only 100 years old. Pilates is an exercise developed in the 1920s by a German physical trainer named Joe Pilates. Pilates called this exercise “Contrology”, consisting of a lot of stretches that are similar to yoga, but instead is controlled by the core with a regular flow in movement. Because it uses the core, breathing is also an important part in this exercise. 

Yoga and Pilates: The Similarities 

Read on to find out how both practises are similar before going down their respective differences. Things should become a lot clearer for your personal opinion after that! 

  • Yoga and Pilates are adaptable to all fitness levels (hooray!)
  • Both yoga and Pilates use a breathing technique.
  • Both exercises are considered ‘low impact’ (basically meaning your muscles won’t be hurting for days afterward!)
  • Yoga and Pilates have been proven to reduce stress and fatigue (sign us up!)
  • Both practises improve mobility and balance.
  • Yoga and Pilates concentrate on mental focus and body awareness.
  • These practises both improve concentration in day-to-day life.
  • Yoga and Pilates is known to improve and increase flexibility, which brings a range of fantastic benefits. (Mobility, mental awareness, body awareness and weight loss, just to name a few).
  • Both practises improve muscle strength.  

Yoga and Pilates: The Differences 

Now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty. For your benefit, we’ve numbered these to show the direct differences between each.  Without further ado, let’s dig in.  


  1. Yoga is a stretch-and-release movement, meaning you typically hold the position to stretch your body, and release before getting into the next position.
  2. Yoga works with the body, mind and soul (usually with meditation).
  3. Yoga requires no other equipment, so it can be practised anywhere.
  4. Yoga focuses on the spiritual philosophy of movement, meditation and sensory transcendence. It is essentially a spiritual practice.
  5. Yoga typically is made up of holding poses and breathing.
  6. Yoga focuses more on the meditative side of the practice.
  7. Yoga is 4 – 5,000 years old. 
  8. Yoga's aim is to move the body and spiritually to prepare for meditation. 


  1. Pilates focuses on strengthening your core and postural muscles through a ‘flow’ of movements, typically pulsing or to-and-fro movements in a certain position.
  2. Pilates only focus is the body, as it’s a form of exercise, not a practice. 
  3. Pilates may require special equipment for some exercises.
  4. Pilates focuses on concentration, the core (torso muscles), precision, flow and breathing. Pilates is a form of physical training.
  5. Pilates is a constant flow of movement without stopping.
  6. Pilates’ focus is very much on the workout aspect.
  7. Pilates is only 100 years old.
  8. Pilates is about physical rehabilitation, dynamic movement and strength. 

FAQ About Yoga Vs Pilates

Any questions? Don't worry, hopefully, we've answered anything that's on your mind below.

Meditation – is it really all that? 

There’s no definitive answer – however you may find that yoga can help your body get into a state that’s more receptive to meditation. On the other hand, you might not be all that bothered about the meditation – and that’s ok! Pilates is probably right for you especially if you’re someone who likes something with pace. 

Is there a way I can do both yoga and Pilates? 

Absolutely! In fact, yogalates is a recognised exercise that mixes the best of both worlds. You’ll get a workout that increases flexibility, reduces stiffness and improves both your posture and core strength.  

Can I adapt either of these into my usual exercise routine? 

You can – and in fact it’s recommended. If you’re a gym-regular, a runner or do any regular form of exercise, you’ll find yoga or Pilates will aid you in increasing the flexibility that running or weight lifting can hinder, meaning you'll become a more well-rounded version of your usual toned self. They can also be used as great warm-ups or cool-down exercises too. 

What do I need to buy to do yoga or Pilates? 

Honestly, nothing! Yoga and Pilates don’t need any special exercise wear – so just a t-shirt and leggings or shorts will do. Fun Fact: Yoga was traditionally done (and sometimes still is done) completely naked (but if you’re going that way, we definitely recommend drawing the curtains!) 

Over time, if you start to fall in love with either practices, you may want to spring for a yoga mat or some activewear. (You know where we are if you want something remarkable too!) If you’re going to classes, why not grab a yoga top that you can sling on over your lovely yoga wear and a bag to carry your mat?  

Is there anything I need to be aware of? 

Like any exercise, there’s an element of risk – so the number one rule is never push yourself! Both yoga and Pilates are adaptable to all fitness levels, with a ton of resources for your own level.  

Another tip that we love is if you can’t find a class, do it with another person and ask them to look at your poses. When you start out, you may find that your alignment is slightly off, meaning you’re putting unnecessary pressure on another part of your body. (Some of us were terrible with downward dog when we started – our poor wrists!) Ask your buddy to guide you so you can be more aware of how the pose feels. If you're practising on your own, then try to film yourself on your phone and review the workout to see what adjustments need making.  

I can’t get to a class – what should I do? 

Practise in your own home! We recommend following a video on YouTube that matches your fitness level. As a bonus, there are many time constraints if you’re in a pinch and even come with guided meditations for yoga or cool-downs for Pilates. What would we do without the internet? 

We’ve also done a blog on the basics of getting into yoga – why not give this one a quick glance? 

When is best to do yoga or Pilates? 

The easiest answer is – when the mood strikes! Many people prefer exercising in the morning to get them pumped for the day ahead, but not all of us are morning people. Try on your lunch break at work, on the evenings, weekends or even during a trip to the seaside. You’ll be really surprised at how yoga or even Pilates can connect you to nature, thanks to its concentration benefits and breathing philosophy (not to mention the endorphins)! 

Hopefully you should be clued up on both practices and will be able to make an informed decision on what you want to do, whether it’s yoga, Pilates – or both! Whether you’re more ‘Namaste’ or ‘Nama-stay with Pilates’ we hope you’ll enjoy it as we head into the new year.

Coming up over the next few weeks we’ll be talking about ways to realistically practise mindfulness, 5-minute hobbies to take the time-out you deserve and nourishing recipes for a healthy lifestyle. Stay tuned! 


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