Pilates vs. Yoga: What’s the difference?

Yoga and Pilates are often used in the same breath – or clumped together as the same style of workout. However, take a couple classes at a local studio and you will immediately notice that there are a few key differences between these two great workouts.

The Similarities:

  • Both Pilates and Yoga share the focus of the “Mind/Body connection” (although yoga tends to infuse more spiritual focus as well).
  • Strength and Flexibility are benefits to both styles of exercise. Although different exercises are performed in Yoga and Pilates, both lead to improved strength and increased flexibility.

The Differences:

  • Equipment: In yoga, no machines and minimal equipment (if any) is used in a class whereas Pilates classes (depending on which class you choose)offer the use of machines and a variety of equipment. One of the more popular machines in Pilates, a reformer, allows for zero-impact resistance training that bridges the gap for those who enjoy weight training.
  • Movement and muscle toning as a focus in Pilates whereas in yoga, this doesn’t tend to be a specific focus.
  • Orgin: Yoga got its start thousands of years ago with roots from India; Pilates started in the early 20th century by Joseph Pilates with the main focus initially was for strengthening and body rehabilitation. It has since gained popularity through dance world when Joseph Pilates moved to New York.
  • Breathing: The purpose of the breath serves different purposes in these different practices. In yoga, the breath helps one to relax and gain flexibility. In Pilates, the breath most often helps facilitate muscle movement.
  • Static vs. dynamic: Yoga poses (traditionally) are held for longer and tend to be more static whereas Pilates exercises tend to involve more movement.
  • Focus – Yoga tends to be centered more around the meditation (again generalizing) whereas Pilates focuses on the mind-body connection surrounding your ‘core.’ Both are amazingly beneficial to your life.


Both yoga and Pilates are wonderful additions to anyone’s workout regimen. Or a great place to start if you have not yet established a workout regimen. As one of the few Pilates studios in Grand Rapids, we welcome you into Pilates in East! See for yourself if you can identify these similarities and differences. We look forward to seeing you!


Marlayna and Katie


“In 10 sessions, you feel better, 20 sessions you look better, 30 sessions you have a completely new body.” ~ Joseph Pilates.



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