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Pilates or Yoga?

Are you thinking of taking up pilates or yoga and not sure which one to go for?  It is common to find that some women are devoted to their morning yoga while others are pilates advocates.  They are both low-impact workouts which appear to offer similar benefits around lengthening and strengthening the body.  So how do you choose?  Lets first look at the origins and basis of each discipline and then make some comparisons to help you decide.


Pilates was developed in the 1920’s by Joseph Pilates from Germany.  He was a sickly child and decided to devote his life to improving his overall strength.  He tried and mastered many skills including gymnastics, bodybuilding and martial arts and went on to create a series of exercises and training methods which became known as Pilates.

Pilates focuses on small movements, encouraging the use of the mind to control specific muscles, with a big focus on core muscles.  These techniques help to balance the body and provide stability to the spine.  Pilates also teaches awareness of breathing and the alignment of the spine to tone the deeper torso and abdominal muscles.

Pilates can be done on a mat or on specialised equipment such as ‘Reformers’.   This unique equipment uses only springs, levers and your own body weight to provide resistance, allowing you to focus on strengthening all muscle groups while controlling your core.  Pilates is often used by physiotherapists to help with recovery and prevention of joint injuries as you can strengthen the small stabilising muscles that hold the joints together.


The beginnings of Yoga are said to have been developed by the Indus-Sarasvati civilization in Northern Indian over 5000 years ago.  The word ‘Yoga’ was mentioned in Vedas sacred texts and today it is a term that covers a very large group of concepts and practices in many parts of the world.

Yoga is based around achieving balance between your body, mind and spirit.  There are many different types of Yoga which all encompass mindfulness and deep breathing with a series of poses (Asana).  Yoga poses initially allowed people to hold their bodies still while meditating, these Asana’s have developed over time and often rely on holding muscle tension during the pose, this helps to develop stronger muscles. Balance and twisting is also used, exploring your body’s maximum flexibility.

Yoga can be seen as a form of mind-body fitness and has been shown to have many physical and mental benefits.

Pilates or Yoga

What are the similarities?

Pilates and Yoga do have similarities and can create similar benefits if practiced regularly and intensively.

– Focus on breathing with an emphasis on breathing deep into the belly during exercise.

– Although props can be used, both disciplines can be done with little or no equipment.

– Requires mental focus and can help with mental well being.

– Mindful movement, totally focusing on what your whole body is doing.

– Tone and strengthen muscles.

– Increase circulation.

What are the differences?

The differences between Yoga and Pilates are mainly around the primary goals of each.


– Designed to strengthen the core stability muscles to improve overall body function in everyday life.

– Mainly consists of movements which are performed for a certain number of repetitions.

– One basic breathing technique used which helps to stabilize and protect your spine during the exercises.

– All exercises focus on building and maintaining core strength.

– Usually performed in a quiet environment, without music.


– Designed to facilitate serious contemplation.

– Static poses that are held and often require some flexibility

– Many styles of breathing techniques used for different elements such as focus, energy or relaxation.

– Yoga classes often use music and sometimes chanting or affirmations when including more of the meditation elements.

Which one is right for me?

Yoga and Pilates are both fantastic low impact workouts and great additions to your exercise regime.  The choice is definitely a personal one and if you are lucky enough to have classes nearby it is definitely worth trying both before deciding which one is better for you.  The experience and knowledge of the teacher can also make a big difference.

If you are looking to stretch, improve flexibility and de-stress; Yoga does have a greater emphasis on these elements. There are many different styles of yoga so finding what works best for your body is important.  Some yoga requires a high amount of flexibility and joint mobility which may initially be a challenge.

If you suffer with back problems or poor posture and would like to focus on improving your core strength and stability Pilates may be more beneficial. Pilates can also be great for anyone recovering from injury as the movements can be small and subtle, building up the range and number of repetitions as your body becomes stronger.

Both are Great

Over the long term our bodies could definitely benefit from doing both, in fact many gyms now offer ‘Yogilates’ classes that incorporate elements from both in a time saving fashion.  Strengthening your core in Pilates will improve your balance in Yoga.  Just as improved flexibility from Yoga classes will help deepen the range of your Pilates exercises.

Both disciplines are amazing for your body, we believe that the best one for you is the one you enjoy the most, as you will have the motivation to stick with it and achieve long term results.

Don’t forget that even during low impact workouts you need to feel comfortable and supported, so check out our range of low impact sports bras!

Yours in support.

Amy x

Please note: It is wise to consult with your doctor before taking up any new form of exercise, especially if you have an existing health condition or injury.

Amy Jaffers

Amy is the face behind Sports Bras Direct, Australia’s largest sports bra website. She's a mother of two, outdoors lover and sports bra expert. Her life mission is to help active women get the support they need as well as assisting women in need through her charitable donations.

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