Yoga and Pilates are often thrown into the same category. True, they are similar practices, but they have some major differences that many people don't recognize.
Note: Keep in mind that there are many different forms of yoga and Pilates, making it difficult to determine distinctions between the two.
Difference No. 1: Origin
The practice of yoga originated in India more than 5,000 years ago. It has evolved over the centuries and cultures into many different types of yoga: Ashtanga, Kripalu, Bikram and Vineyasa, to name just a few.
Pilates is a much younger practice, beginning in the mid-20th century by an athlete named Joseph Pilates. He created the exercises as a form of rehabilitation and strengthening.
Despite what some may think, dance is actually what made Pilates really popular. Dancers around the world began modifying and utilizing the practice to help them become stronger in their training and performance.
Difference No. 2: Mind, Body and Spirit
Both yoga and Pilates bring an understanding that the mind and body are connected. However, yoga adds an additional element to the mix—the spirit. Exploring spirituality is a huge part of yoga practice, especially through meditation.
While Pilates focuses on creating an understanding that the mind and body are connected and how this can help in everyday life, yoga focuses on the mind/body/spirit connection.
Difference No. 3: The Class
Each class you walk into will be different, so it's tough to pinpoint specific distinctions, but this is one of the most frequently asked questions.
Many yoga classes are flexible in routine. Postures, sequences and variations can be combined into tens of thousands of routines to create a class. So it will be up to the style of yoga you practice and the teacher guiding you to decide what's on the agenda. There are some styles of yoga that have more of a set plan, such as Ashtanga and Bikram.
Pilates classes are a little more structured. Because of this, you will more likely know what to expect when you walk into the door of a Pilates class than in a yoga class.
Another element that is often (but not always) brought into a yoga class is meditation. Many yoga classes use a chant or meditation to bring in the focus and dedication at the beginning, and to seal in and appreciate the benefits of the practice at the end.