What is Pilates vs Yoga?

pilates yoga bristolExpert Blog

Advice from Personal Trainer Bethan Handy

There is often a misconception that Pilates and Yoga are essentially the same thing…

If you have ever said these words to a teacher of either discipline you may have realised your error once you saw the reaction. However, although the goal and execution of both are fundamentally different you would be forgiven for noticing the cross-over between the two.


Pilates is fundamentally a physical workout with an emphasis on strength building, especially through the core.

As a rule most Pilates exercises are not done standing but you are lying or sitting on a mat and small equipment such as a weighted ball or resistance bands can also be used.


Yogas origins began thousands of years ago and the physical workout was secondary to mental wellbeing and development. In the Western world we tend to focus more on the physical aspects but most teachers will bring in some of the original concepts when it is appropriate.

Yoga has a strong emphasis on balance and there is a mixture of standing, seated, lying and balance work. The postures tend to be more fixed than Pilates and there is also more of an emphasis on relaxation towards the end of the class, to leave with an overall sense of wellbeing.

What they do share:

  • Both low impact
  • Increase core strength
  • Increase flexibility
  • Improve range of motion
  • May improve stress and back pain
  • A focus on breath and movement as one.

Remember that exercise should be enjoyable and not all aspects are going to be what you are looking for. So the advice from a Yoga and/or Pilates teacher would be go along to both classes and see which ones speaks to your body the most.

Also remember you don’t have to choose just one. Pilates and Yoga compliment each other perfectly through their differences and similarities.

Bethan Handy

Bethan Handy

Personal Trainer

  • Level 3 Mat Pilates
  • Level 2 and 3 Gym Instructor and Personal Trainer
  • Spin and Boxercise Instructor
  • Sports Nutrition & Advanced Nutrition
  • Vinyasa Flow Yoga Instructor
  • Level 3 Diploma in Sports Massage
  • Level 1 and 2 Reiki Practitioner
  • Indian Head Massage
  • Yoga Nidra (currently studying)

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