Class handout by the Drummond Team

We are often asked if it is better to take Pilates training or Yoga training and what is the difference. I expect you are often asked the same by class members. We thought this handout may help clarify some of the differences and help you choose what classes to offer and or become trained in.

You can also use the descriptors to help your clients decide which class to attend.


The goal of Yoga is to learn to still and quieten the mind so we can reconnect with our true natures, live/make decisions from this place. Mindfulness is a hugely important part of a Yoga class. Connect the body and the spirit through structure and techniques that heal the body and help you find harmony. Yoga divides us into 5 … Physical, Energy, Mental, Intuitive, SELF (our natures). Any Yoga class should really speak to all 5 of these layers. Yoga at it’s heart is about controlling the mind.

Yoga physical practise gives your body strength and flexibility whilst promoting relaxation and meditation. Yoga offers balance, endurance, strength, spirituality and physical movement. Yoga classes include not only postures (Asana’s) but Pranayama (breath work), Sun Salutations (energy sequences), Mudra’s (spiritual hand gestures used during meditation), Bandhas (body locks), Savasana (relaxation) and Dhyana (meditation).

The asanas teach us how to ‘check out’ of the chatter of the mind, by giving it something else to concentrate on – and this is where the physical asana practice comes in. Working on the premise that if we can’t focus on our bodies, how are we ever going to be able to take control of our minds/thoughts to be able to live with a sense of calm or harmony.

Yoga classes structure and practice are very varied depending on the school of Yoga, such as Bikram, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Viniyoga, Hatha, Yin etc. Any yoga class which includes asanas’ is based on Hatha Yoga – so hatha yoga is an umbrella term of Ashtanga, Yin, Vinyasa, Iyengar, Bikram etc.  

During a class, asanas are sequenced and one asana follows another in a logical step moving from less challenging to more challenging. Yoga asanas include standing poses, forward bends, back bends, inversions, arm balances and twists. Postures and practice can have either a relaxing or stimulating effect. The teaching of a class will vary depending on the school of Yoga. Practice is often started with a simple asana allowing engagement of breath, followed by warming muscles and joints through 3- 5 sun salutation sequences, moving into dynamic stimulating asanas’ and relaxing asanas’ in the middle ending with relaxation and meditation.

A well-balanced yoga sequence includes all the various groups of asanas’ focusing on balance across strength, flexibility, balance and moving the spine in all directions.


It is important to distinguish between Pilates style classes, and classes taught using the ‘Pilates Classical Mat Method’ introduced by Joseph Pilates. Many class members are referred to Pilates as a beneficial form of exercise to help them correct posture, spinal alignment, joint or specific movement problems.

There are many classes that are taught in more of a fitness, dynamic movement way that use the title Pilates, but the exercises are not taught or executed using the 6 principles of the Pilates method. These classes are often fun and dynamic and improve general fitness and certainly have a place in our timetable choices, but they should be very clear that they are not taught using the Pilates Method.

Practiced fully, Pilates benefits include, “increased lung capacity and circulation through deep breathing, strength and flexibility, particularly of the abdomen and back muscles, coordination, muscular and mental strength, posture, balance, and core strength” (Joseph Pilates).

In Pilates, we are looking to create a strong, stable foundation for movement. We develop this “powerhouse” for movement by employing the muscles of the pelvic floor and all the abdominal muscles, teaching them to work efficiently and in harmony with the muscles of the back.

Pilates puts a special emphasis on training the deeper abdominal muscles, such as the transverse abdominis, and the muscles of the pelvic floor. These muscles are often underdeveloped and not working equally with the often-overworked surface muscles, such as the rectus abdominis.

Each exercise is taught using the six principles of the method, Centering (bringing the focus to the centre of the body through alignment and core stability), Concentration (concentrating of the centre of the body and the precision of the movement), Control, (using centering and breath to maintain control of a movement), Breath (using breath fully to control a movement, breathing deeply in four depths of the torso), Precision (using centering, breath, concentration and control of the movement to move precisely ensuring that precision markers are not lost and therefore loss of centering and control), and Flow (flow within a movement and between movements)

The Best of Both Worlds

Whilst Yoga and Pilates classes employ different methodology of teaching there is a commonality of purpose in that both exercise practices can be considered therapeutic in some elements. This has attracted may teachers to fuse some of each method into a unique style class. Fusion formats typically promise to deliver more strength training aerobic, developing core stability while burning calories, bringing more energy to the practice.

Fusion classes must reflect the depth of both systems. Instructors who are well-versed and qualified in both formats fully integrate this approach. It is important to be familiar and well-practiced in both so that you can fully explain the benefits and methodology of each exercise, asana or movement you include in the class before fusing it. You need to have more depth of knowledge if you are going to combine both styles in one class.

Pilates teachers who don’t teach stand-alone Yoga only fusion, or Yoga teachers who do not teach stand-alone Pilates may be able to teach the physical part but not the in-depth methodology of each school. Hence the need to have more in-depth knowledge of both disciplines if you want to teach fusion. If you want to teach fusion it is important to also teach each school individually to be fully confident and practised This will help you fully understand the purpose and benefits of the individual exercises and where the focus should be anatomically and methodologically, so that you can explain it fully to a class and to be very clear on which school that movement or posture is from.  If you are interested in qualifying in Yoga or Pilates then email us. If you already hold one of the disciplines then the cost of getting qualified may be reduced.