What is The difference between yoga and pilates?

Home workouts exploded in 2020 and with so many different forms of exercise to choose from, you might have been wondering, ‘which is the best for me?’

Whilst running and cycling are both great ways to get outside and be healthy, some form of regular strength and flexibility training is also important to maintain your fitness and stay away from pesky injuries. Mat-based workouts are a great way to exercise at home, but which one is right for you?

Choosing between Yoga and Pilates can take a bit of practice, so we’ve broken down some of the main similarities and key differences between the two.

But first, why are Yoga and Pilates different and why were they created?

The main differences between Yoga and Pilates are in part down to the different reasons they were created.

Originating in ancient India, Yoga was built on a holistic set of spiritual, physical and mental practices and was originally intended as a way of life rather than simply exercise. Today, Yoga practices vary in type from Vinyasa to Yin (a calm variant with links to Chinese medicine) and more recently, western styles such as Rocket and Power Yoga which involve moving through strong holds at a faster pace. Breath is a key part of yoga and is used in rhythm to control the entire practice.

In contrast, Pilates was invented by Joseph Pilates as recently as the 1920s, developed specifically as a form of physical exercise and strength rehabilitation. Pilates works the entire body in a controlled way. Breath is used in Pilates to control specific movements and engage core strength throughout. Pilates can also involve a variety of different equipment designed to create resistance for the body to push against or find support to move. These include Reformer beds (the Heartcore Coreformer® is a luxury version of this), dumbbells and Pilates rings.

Like Yoga, Pilates has also evolved in recent years and while traditional Pilates can be very slow and measured, at Heartcore, we teach a much more energetic and effective version of Pilates in our Dynamic Pilates classes and The Heartcore Class.

woman doing pilates at home

So, what are the benefits of Yoga and Pilates?

Both Pilates and Yoga can be used either on their own or as a great addition to your existing workout routine. Here are some of the different benefits of regular Pilates workouts vs. a Yoga practice:


While much of yoga involves flowing between, and holding balanced poses, Pilates has more of a focus on strength and incorporates controlling tension along with repeated pulsing movements to target specific muscle groups. This is true of both mat and Reformer Pilates but especially the Reformer.

For this reason, Pilates is widely seen as the better for strengthening muscles and creating a toned physique whilst yoga is perhaps preferred for flexibility and balance.

2. Recovery and rehab

Both Yoga and Pilates are low impact and are can therefore be great for rehabilitation following an injury or for improving tendon and muscle strength to prevent future injuries.

While Yoga is most famous for improving flexibility through long periods of stretching, Pilates is perhaps the better form of exercise for improving strength in specific areas of the body. A combination of Yin yoga for flexibility and Pilates for alignment and strengthening the right muscles may be just what the doctor ordered. Speaking of which, do take advice from your doctor or physiotherapist.

3. Positive mental outlook

Both Yoga and Pilates require focus, concentration and hard work so the mental pay-off is huge.

Pilates differs from Yoga in that it is not inherently designed to be a spiritual practice, although you may well find that it affects you in a deep and emotional way.

If you’re after a sense of serenity, Yoga might be for you but if you’re the type of person who likes to push yourself and test your limits you may be more suited to Dynamic Pilates. Either way, exercise is a great way to get your endorphins flowing and encouraging positive vibes.

4. Weight-loss and cardio fitness

There are several factors which affect the number of calories you burn during a workout including the pace, room temperature and even technique. Heartcore’s Dynamic Pilates classes and our signature Heartcore Class are particularly high energy and therefore great for burning calories and developing a toned body with long, lean muscles. If you’re looking to burn calories through Yoga, try something with strong holds like Power Yoga or any Vinyasa practice taught at pace.

so, Should I choose Yoga or Pilates?

If you’re new to Yoga and Pilates, the simple answer is you should try both. We’d also recommend trying a variety of styles and teachers as everyone prefers a slightly different approach.

Depending on your level of spirituality, love of challenge and desired outcome you’re likely to gravitate towards one or the other over time. At Heartcore we love both, but deep down, we’re Pilates people.

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