Pilates vs. Yoga: Niki Carr

A highly debated topic among fitness enthusiasts and a common question I get from my patients: Pilates or Yoga? Today, I am so excited to have one of my own Pilates instructors give us her take on the debate! Niki is a professional dancer and certified Pilates instructor (don't worry, she isn't biased!) but more than anything this girl is a mover! She is able to move in ways I didn't even think were possible (and makes me try them too!). 

So here we go- pilates vs. yoga! Take it away Niki!

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How did you get into Pilates?

I was introduced to Pilates at a fairly young age as a way to support my dance training. I was lucky enough to have teachers who recognized the importance of mindfully and safely training the body, prioritising technique over tricks. So Pilates was a regular part of how we developed our bodies and prevented injuries. Pilates quickly became how I learned to understand my body and strengthen it properly to help it function and perform (literally) at its best and I believe it can do the same for anyone! The benefits of my regular Pilates practice is something that I couldn't imagine living without. The ability to move your body with freedom and confidence is worth more than anything to me.


Describe some of the main principles of Pilates.

Pilates was developed as a system to challenge both the mind and body, and their ability to work together. In this way, it helps to create effective, efficient movement patterns and trains the muscles to have the agility to move and stabilize on command. This is important for protecting the spine and joints from wear and tear- keeping you injury free and doing what you love best!

Pilates quickly became how I learned to understand my body and strengthen it properly to help it function and perform (literally) at its best and I believe it can do the same for anyone!
— Niki Carr

How do you think Yoga is different?

Yoga, while also being great for the mind and body, adds the element of spirituality. In class, you may take a little more time to focus on stillness, explore breathing, and meditative techniques.

Describe what someone might expect if going to a Pilates class.

When you walk in everyone will be gathered around chatting, the instructor will be there to greet you and help you with any setup. A lot of people become regulars and rely on their routine so these will likely become familiar faces.


The workout will be a structured series designed from the Pilates repertoire focusing on the basic principles of the method to challenge the body in a fully balanced way. Instructors will provide options and modifications for different needs in the class to make it accessible yet challenging for all bodies to sweat!

The average class is 55 minutes of low impact strength training with lots of long dynamic movements to keep you stretched out and feeling great.

How might a yoga class differ?

When you walk into a yoga class, everyone will be silent. You quietly find your space on your mat. Often people will start from savasana (laying face up on your back), but you can sit or stretch if you prefer while waiting for class to start.

There are many different types of yoga, and the workout you get from each can vary greatly from a super intense sweaty workout to a still meditation. Be sure to do your homework on what may be best for you before you sign up for your first class!

How would you recommend someone go about figuring out what discipline is best for them?


I love yoga for the freedom of movement and creative expression it provides. I love Pilates for the anatomical precision and rely on it for keeping my body trained safely so that I can challenge myself in movement with little hesitation.

If you're trying to figure out what is best for you or if you want to start using them together in your practice, I recommend going to a class and trying it. Most studios offer a first free trial class, but I think it's important to go at least a few times if you can (my recommendation is five) before you can have a good grasp of each offers your body. Also try to go to different instructors, maybe different styles if offered. Give yourself a buffet of what is offered to see what you like. It will be worth it :)


Thanks so much Niki! Let us know your pick in the comments below and check Niki out on her website atthemat.com  or see some of her amazing moves on Instagram @at_the_mat !

Emma JackComment