This is a common question I have been asked amongst my patients. As yoga has been around for centuries and pilates seems to picking up more and more. People are often open to trying new exercise classes and routines including yoga and pilates. I hope to give you some clearer outlook to the differences between them. Now while everyone is different with their level of fitness and flexibility, there is always level for improvement and trying new things.

Yoga is considered a physical, mental and spiritual practice that originated in ancient India. Most yoga classes involve flowing through a series of poses that utilize your body weight as resistance. Breathing and meditation is also commonly used throughout the practice. Well known poses include; downward dog, tree pose, warrior pose and cobra. The focus of these poses are to improve balance and flexibility. Small pieces of equipment such as blocks or straps may also be used to help you achieve positions that are move difficult or your flexibility isn’t quite where you want it to be yet. Benefits of yoga, build muscle, improve flexibility, supports weight loss, improves mental health. 

Pilates is a low-impact fitness system developed by a German trainer Joseph Pilates and was originally based on six principles: concentration, control, centering, flow, precision, and breath. Pilates is a method of exercise that consists of low-impact flexibility, muscular strength, endurance movements, emphasizes proper postural alignment, core strength and muscle balance. Pilates classes tend to have a slightly quickened pace to the practice. Pilates involves moving through slow, precise, strength exercise with breath control with heavy emphasis on core strength and stability. Equipment used can entail a mat or a machine called a reformer. Common moves include, teaser, one hundred, scissors and pendulum. Benefits of Pilates are core control focusing on the trunk, improving muscle strength, and full body conditioning.

Give these two exercises a try for yourself!

Warrior 1 Pose


Bring your feet wide apart. Point your left foot toward the left, and keep your right foot at an angle. Turn to the left. Bend your left leg, with your knee in alignment with your ankle. Keep your right leg straight. Bring your arms straight above your head.

Now try the pose from the other side. Point your right foot, and keep your left foot at an angle. Turn to the right. Bend your right leg and keep your left leg straight. Bring your arms straight above your head.

If you have injuries or if you’re concerned about exercising, consult with your health care provider before starting a yoga program. 

Pelvic Curl

Lie on your mat with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Make sure your feet are hip-distance apart. 

  • Inhale – prepare
  • Exhale – articulate your spine up into a bridge position one vertebra at a time
  • Inhale – pause at the top and reach your knees over your toes to open up your hip flexors
  • Exhale – soften your chest and articulate your spine down to the ground one vertebra at a time
  • Repeat 8-10x. 

Author- Emily Swanson, PTA


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