The Olive Tree Pilates Blog

What's the difference between Pilates & Yoga?

benefits of pilates pilates workout Mar 16, 2024
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In all of my years of teaching Pilates - one of the most common questions I get is "what's the difference between Pilates and yoga?". Although I joke all the time that I hate this question - it really is a good question, isn't it?

So many people think these two forms of mind/body work are the same - or at least similar.

I know plenty of fitness instructors, specifically Pilates instructors, that also teach yoga or take yoga classes. So surely, they have to be in the same camp, right?

I would argue that Pilates and yoga are not that similar at all...

And these differences make a HUGE difference for your body!

Here are 3 reasons I personally do not recommend yoga...


The "Mobility" Issue

A lot of people say that they want to do yoga because they want to work on flexibility and mobility. BUT hyper-mobility is the #1 physical issue that I have with yoga. I have had SO many clients come to me with injuries or hyper-mobility issues as a result of the over-stretching (specifically in the joints - mainly hips, back and shoulders) done in yoga classes.

Holding static positions is the exact OPPOSITE dynamic of what your ligaments and tendons respond to for mobility and flexibility purposes. Holding a static position causes the ligaments and tendons to respond with tension and even gripping because its their job to try and hold the muscle onto the bone. This can lead to microtears in the tissue when a position is sustained and then pressure is added (bodyweight in this case).

If you want more mobility or flexibility, RELAXING the muscles is what turns on the relaxation mechanism of the fascia, allowing for proper release in the ligaments and tendons. OR even slow MOVEMENT through elongated muscle contraction (think eccentric contractions) can even encourage flexibility (think tensegrity) in the fascia.

But HOLDING a position, especially a challenging one, can lead to dysfunction.

static position → gripping → excess tension → imbalances



The "Resistance" Issue

You need resistance training in order to take care of your body in the best way possible. To keep your muscles, bones, joints, fascia, etc. strong you MUST use resistance. Especially as you age, you need to make sure you are LOADING the muscles, bones, joints, and fascia for the structure of your body to be STRONG.

Yoga is NOT a resistance workout.

You might think that bodyweight in yoga can be used as resistance but you cannot JUST use your bodyweight as sufficient resistance/load or else you will plateau. You need to consistently and carefully PROGRESS the weight/load/resistance for your muscles, bones, joints and fascia to strengthen.

You might say, “Well, I don’t only do yoga. I do yoga alongside my resistance training.”

And to that I would say - see point #1.



The Spiritual Issue

I know not everyone wants to hear this part. I do not expect everyone to believe the same way that I do.

BUT if you are a Christian...this is for you...

When my husband was in seminary, one of his professors who had been a missionary in India for years, said that people in the East believe the spiritual aspect can never be separated from yoga. Yoga is a spiritual practice in purpose & essence. Each position in yoga was created to “become one” with a specific god. There is a story for each position that directly ties to why and what you’re doing. Trying to make yoga “Christian” is like someone coming into a church, taking communion, raising their hands, singing, and praying while saying that they are worshipping THEIR god and not the God of the Bible.

While some things can be redeemed, it’s my strong conviction that yoga opens us to spiritual practices that do not align with what the God of the Bible calls us to.



It’s not what most people want to hear - but I have never been one to shy away from the truth and stand firm in my convictions.

💚 Gentle Reminder: I have people in my life that I love dearly that practice yoga. So I say this with love but stand firm in what I recommend in order for you to take care of your heart and body in the best possible way.

If this resonates with you - please know that you can find what you are looking for in gentle, restorative yet highly-effective workouts with me.



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