The Difference Between Pilates and Yoga


Pilates and yoga are both therapeutic forms of exercise. At Mind the Mat we use the word "therapeutic" to describe forms of movement that are intentionally designed for safety and to achieve a specific purpose such as addressing pain and injury, increasing range of motion and strength, creating functional movement patterns and greater postural awareness, or balancing the nervous system and reducing stress.

What is the difference between Pilates & Yoga?

Pilates utilizes both specific exercises and skilled cueing to engage the deepest layer of the abdominal wall. These muscles are important stabilizers because they provide muscular support for the spine. You can think of your core muscles as an internal corset. By contrast, other types of abdominal exercises engage the outer abdominal layers and hip flexors, often torquing your low back, affecting your posture negatively and potentially causing injury. The famous six-pack (outer abdominals) looks great on the beach, but does not help with spinal stability.

Yoga focuses on achieving a balance, in your body and in your mind. In yoga, finding proper alignment is key. For example, in a pose such as Warrior II (see below), once proper alignment and engagement of muscles are found (through expert cueing), you will build strength in your thighs, glutes, back, and arms, while simultaneously stretching your hip flexors and toning your pelvic floor. The result is a body in balance. In yoga, a balanced body translates into a balanced mind. Deep breathing is implemented in all postures to support focus, clarity of mind, cellular health, and stress reduction.

Originally written and published for Alexandria Stylebook: