What is Pilates? Is it like Yoga?

If I had a pound every time someone asked me that very question…….

This year I decided I would like to get some Yoga into my body, so I have been regularly attending classes at Stay Well Health in Chellaston, Derby. Sarah has a fabulous studio entirely dedicated to the practice of yoga, so with a little knowledge from the few times I have attended and a wealth of knowledge from Sarah (she is helping me with this blog) I hope to answer that popular question…


What is Pilates? Is it like Yoga?

How old are they?

Pilates has been around since the 1920’s, devised by Joseph Pilates as a rehab sequence of exercises designed especially for the soldiers.

The development of yoga can be traced back to over 5,000 years ago, but some researchers think that yoga may be up to 10,000 years old.

Posture and Alignment

Both practices have posture and alignment as a main focus, however, at a Pilates class you will align your body and then move through this alignment, very rarely do we hold a pose or position. In yoga styles like vinyasa and sun salutations do move continuously with the breath but others the posture maybe held for longer such as yin, which could be up to about 4-5 minutes.


Pilates is used more for physical rehab, say after an injury or operation and can certainly strengthen and lengthen the body. Yoga is used more for mental and emotional rehab, it focuses more on the board muscles groups and there is more emphasis on balance and meditation.


Again both practices use the breath. Yoga focuses on breathing within the poses in a meditative way, whereas in pilates the breath is used to help you move through the exercises to ensure the deep core muscles are recruited.


Yoga uses small pieces of equipment, such as traps and blocks to help adapt certain postures.

Pilates however, uses small equipment to intensify the movements and give vital feedback to the user on which of the core muscles are more contracted than others. There are also large pieces of equipment called, reformers, cadillacs, barrels and arcs which can further enhance your Pilates experience.

Mind and Body

Both practices work towards connecting the mind to the body. Pilates is more just mind and body awareness, whereas Yoga adds in the spiritual side also.

Strength and Flexibility

Yoga is well known for it’s ability to get your body into postures you didn’t think it could get into, and therefore gives you strength through length. Pilates also gives you strength, but more through movements from building core strength and aligning the limbs correctly in order to make your whole body stronger. Through these movements you will also gain flexibility.

Pilates has become increasingly popular, indeed GP’s and Physios are now recommending it to patients. Yoga is also being mentioned by doctors as a great way to lower your stress levels.

In summary, both practices have similar benefits, similar goals and outcomes. I personally believe you should have a go at both. Both give you a chance to go on a mini personal journey of your mind and body. Every session you will find out more about your joints, muscles, mindset, emotions, limiting beliefs and endurance levels. They are both fantastic ways to explore yourself,

with no judgement,

no comparison to others,

just you,

your body and mind for 60 minutes of bliss.

I highly recommend attending Stay Well Health for Yoga, and of course recommend ALIVE Pilates for the best small equipment group mat classes in Derby!