Confused about the differences between yoga and Pilates? Us too!

So we sat down with Yoga Dublin’s Naomi Sturdy to find out what the differences are

I teach both yoga and Pilates and while there are similar principles and aspects between the two ultimately choosing one over the other comes down to what makes you feel better, what works better for your body and what do you enjoy more. Both classes consist of movements completed with awareness on your breathing, movements focused with alignment and technique in mind and observing how your body is moving and adapting.

But to get to the nitty gritty, here’s some background on both as well as some common questions that might help you choose.


  • Pilates was developed by Joseph Pilates from Germany who wanted to develop a system of movements to help strengthen, stabilize and build balance in the core and body.
  • Pilates is a great way of building core strength, stability, preventing injuries or rehabilitating following injuries. There are a number of movements that can be performed on your mat and there is also Reformer Pilates which uses apparatus to complete movements.
  • Pilates classes usually focus on the movements, they can sometimes include music, use of equipment and are suitable for all ages, men and women, and all levels of abilities



  • Yoga was first practiced in India and has a much longer history than Pilates. It is rooted in years of practice and philosophy based on reaching a sense of unity and bliss, connecting to our soul.
  • Yoga classes in contrast to Pilates, may include grounding and centering techniques such as pranayama (breathing practices), meditation and relaxation in Savasana (lying down at the end of class) to develop an overall sense of well being, allowing you to calm your body and mind.
  • The physical practices in yoga are similar in its benefits to Pilates, developing strength, co-ordination, balance and awareness of movements with your breath. Postures and sequences can also be much more flowing and focus on also developing flexibility in the body.

What if I am not flexible enough or strong enough?

Often people fear what the levels will be like, if the class will be too ‘advanced’ or if you will be able to keep up. If this is your concern, make sure to speak to the teacher before you attend and express that you are a beginner. Look up classes that are specifically labelled as beginners classes and a great option is to begin with a course so you can learn all the fundamentals consistently for a number of weeks before availing of drop in classes. It also means you’ll have been shown the basics properly and will be less inclined to hurt yourself.


What are the other people involved like?

You might also be unsure of trying something new and different and wonder what the other people in the groups will be like, will it be all chanting and candlelight or will it be full on competitive exercising. Don’t worry, as I mentioned classes are available for all types and styles, so if you are looking for yoga/Pilates for your age group, for sports, for strengthening, for women or men only or for relaxation you will find details in the class descriptions and make sure again to speak to the teacher before you attend. If you sign up for or attend classes with your particular need in mind, you will more likely meet like minded people and feel more at home.


Do I need to buy anything or how do I prepare for classes?

Yoga and Pilates are great forms of exercise and keeping active from an economical point of view. Your only expense will for the most part will be your class or course fees. For most classes all you will need is a mat, a water bottle and a towel. If there is any other specific equipment needed usually the studio or teacher will provide it and if you don’t have a mat to begin with, most studios will rent you one for a nominal fee.

Yoga and Pilates are super ways to keep your bodies in balance and to take time out and ease the mind, they are similar but not the same so make sure to experience both and see what is best for you. Happy moving and breathing!

Naomi Sturdy in Yoga Dublin Ranelagh and Dundrum. She will be teaching a new Yoga for Beginners course in Dundrum starting in March 2017.