Not being an expert in Yoga and pilates these two classes can often be put into the same category. Yoga and pilates can be seen as very similar and come under the 'mind body umbrella' but actually there are some big differences between these two practises. Not to mention that if you thought 'Yoga' was one type of exercises to make this even more confusing there are many different forms of yoga and pilates too!
Ashtanga, Bikram and Vineyasa are a few yoga practises you may have heard of and many people across the world have been doing these exercises for thousands of years. Plates is much newer than Yoga. Those in the know may have heard of Joseph pilates. Joseph founded this type of exercise and was used mainly for rehabiliation and strengthening. Pilates is extremely popular in the dance world and has helped establish this form of exercise as a main stream class or method of training.
When looking at a group workout time table or class description as mentioned earlier these two classes fall into the mind and body category. This is correct as both of these classes connect these two areas. Yoga also uses more of a spiritual aspect to the practise and uses meditation to explore this area. You will not get this spiritual connection in a pilates class.
Yoga will also come down to the instructor taking the class. There are many postures, holds and sequences that can be varied into thousands of routines. Depending on the style of yoga and the teacher will really decide what the class will entail. If you prefer a more set class we advise you to look out for Bikram and Ashtanga Yoga as these classes have more of a set plan. Pilates classes after doing a few will also be more structured.
With both Pilates and Yoga you will defiantly improve your flexibility. Predominately using your core muscles, Pilates will also offer a total body workout with the main focus being correct spinal alignment. In the pilates world, small equipment can be used but also equipment such as a reformer or a tower can add another dimension. With Yoga there is a huge emphasis in balance. What ever you work you will then do a movement to balance the area that has not been worked.
The final difference between Yoga and pilates is the breathing aspect. In Yoga there is a massive emphasis in the breath. Commonly this is done by breathing in and out of the nose to help with the flow of movements. Classes will also allow time to get you using your breath correctly. In pilates you simply breath in through the nose and out through the mouth which is very common in other exercises.
Hopefully this would have helped you understand the differences between Pilates and Yoga. In helping you to decide which you are more suited to maybe consider what you hope to get from the class. If you would like to decease your stress and become more spiritual then Yoga would be better. If your would prefer more postural work concentrating on your core Pilates would be in more favour.