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pilates vs yoga mat. What is the difference

Pilates vs Yoga Mat – Is There Really a Difference Between the Two?

Pilates and yoga mats offer efficient support for pilates and yoga exercises, however many question what the difference is between the two. There are four main differences between yoga and pilates mats: thickness, size, material, and texture. In this article we will discuss the following to compare a pilates vs yoga mat.

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What is a Yoga Mat?

A yoga mat is a mat made from high grip material. Designed to avoid slipping and provide cushioning for the feet and hands whilst doing yoga. The sticky surface of the mat equips a good grip for its users making it versatile for different types of yoga exercises. Can be used for sit-ups, planking, stretching, and more.

Standard yoga mats yoga instructors will use in a class to help perform various yoga poses.

In the early days people commonly used cotton, rubber mats, or towels as a mat during yoga. In 1982, Angela Farmer pioneered the use of carpet while doing yoga exercise. Her father, Richard Farmer, helped her to create a sticky mat. Over time, the yoga mat was enhanced by several manufacturers and is now recognized as an essential workout mat yoga enthusiasts use around the world!

What is a Pilates Mat?

A pilates mat is designed specifically for performing pilates exercise. It provides support and cushioning for the knees, spine, and wrists. The exercise mat is designed to support body weight to accentuate core strength whilst performing pilates. A pilates mat is highly recommended for individuals planning to do pilates regularly due to its higher inch thick density and custom design.

pilates vs yoga mat, is there a difference? Lady rolling up a pilates mat
Pilates vs Yoga Mat – What’s the difference?

Pilates vs Yoga Mat: 4 Key Differences?

Newbies to yoga and pilates exercise may find it difficult to determine the differences between their respective mats. Yoga emphasizes more on postures, meditation, and breathing techniques. Meanwhile, pilates is more about body endurance, muscle activation, flexibility, posture, and balance. One of the major benefits of yoga and pilates is the ability to perform these fitness and strengthening exercises within the comfort of home.

Weight loss is not a common reason for performing pilates and yoga, but it can sometimes be a result from regular activity. For more intentional weight loss activity I suggest looking at cardio activities.


The most obvious difference for pilates vs yoga mats is the thickness. Pilates mats are a lot thicker than yoga mats.
The way it is used in the various exercises and the support required for the body, is the major reason for this difference. Pilates mats are designed to be thicker due to the exercise incorporating more work on the knees and hips/side body. This requires more cushioning and support.

How thick should a pilates mat be? Pilates mats rang from a minimum 6mm (0.236 inches) to 15mm (0.591 inches) while yoga mats have a range of 2.5 mm (0.098 inches) to 5 mm (0.197 inches) thickness.


Generally speaking, yoga and pilates mats are similar in length. Pilates and yoga mat range from 68 inches (173 mm) in length, to a maximum of 72 – 74 inches (183-188 mm). Additionally, the two differ slightly in width, measuring 24 inches (609.6mm) for yoga mats and 26 inches (660 mm) for pilates mats.

If you’re tall, you can be sure that both yoga and pilates mats will be long enough. Most likely, these mats will be an adequate size for full body depending on the type of exercise performed.


Another major difference for pilates vs yoga mats is the texture. Yoga mats possess a more compact feel since they’re commonly made of rubber or PVC. The structure provides good grip and enough friction that doesn’t allow the body to sink, but supports the exercises performed.

Pilates mats on the other hand are thick and are usually manufactured from foam. The texture has a smooth feel to support and maintain balance. The mat delivers sufficient depth to cushion knees and hips during a pilates workout.


The materials used to make yoga and pilates mats have similarities and differences. Pilates mats are often designed from synthetic foam, however, in some cases it uses a combination of PVC and environmentally friendly materials such as natural rubber. Since it’s created with such materials, the mat can greatly support various pilates exercises without the risk of wear and tear.

Meanwhile, yoga mats are predominantly made from PVC, but some types are made from foam as well. Manufacturers sometimes use recycled rubber, cork or jute which are more environmentally friendly materials.

yoga mat vs pilates mat. four key differences

Benefits of a Yoga Mat

Using a yoga mat is essential when performing yoga exercises due to the general health and core benefits it provides. The features of this mat are not only limited to the support and non-slip surface. A yoga mat also provides insulation for the body and protection from the ground surface.

Take a look at my article on the best yoga mats for your home gym and which is right for you.

Benefits of a Pilates Mat

Pilates mats work reliably to cushion the body from hard ground surfaces. Without the padding it provides, muscles may sustain pain from regular workouts, so it’s definitely advisable to have the right mat for pilates. The structure is purposely made thicker to provide substantial support and relaxation for the body.

Pilates exercise can greatly improve posture, flexibility, and more, as I have discovered personally from doing pilates over the past 3 years through Lindywell. I love how strong I feel through pilates and the difference it has made for my posture.

Conclusion: Pilates vs Yoga Mat

Pilates and yoga mats are made respectively to serve their different functions. The main difference between pilates and yoga mats are the thickness, size, material, and texture. Although similar in look, you would start to notice the lack of cushioning and support if you used a yoga mat for pilates or vice versa.

pilates exercise class using yoga mats and pilates mats
Yoga mats are often found in gyms for group exercise classes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a yoga mat be used for pilates?

Generally, no, you can’t use a yoga mat for pilates because it lacks the required thickness for cushioning and support. Pilates exercises are different from yoga in that it requires more support for the knees, wrist, and spine.

What type of mat is best for pilates?

One of the best pilates mats is the STOTT Pilates Mat. This is a 15mm pilates mat (0.591 inches), 183 cm in length and 61 cm wide. It is one of the most highly recommended pilates mats in the market due to its thickness and high quality.

Is there a difference between a yoga mat and a pilates mat?

Yes, the biggest differences between a yoga mat and pilates mat is the thickness, texture and material. Pilates mats are thicker than yoga mats to provide enough support and stability for the exercises performed.

Does a good yoga mat make a difference?

Yes, a yoga mat is used to support the body and provide comfort while performing various exercises. A good yoga mat offers adequate protection from the ground as as well as a dependable non-slip surface.

Gaiam yoga mats have a fantastic range of yoga mats in various thicknesses and designs.

Can you do yoga on a pilates mat and can you use a pilates mat for yoga?

Generally, no, you can’t interchange the use of pilates and yoga mat with each other. This equipment is made specifically for their respective exercises.

In the short term it may be fine to use one mat for both types of exercise, but long term or when exercising multiple times a week, the right mat is important.

What is the best thickness for a yoga mat?

The best thickness for a yoga mat is about 1/8 inch (3.175 mm) thick. It is a standard thickness that helps provide balance for yoga exercises.

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About the Author: Jane Hart

Working crazy hours in a high-stress work environment resulted in my body one day telling me, “Enough is enough!”

Navigating this serious health journey was both mentally and physically exhausting. But through some serious mindset work and instilling healthy habits, I was able to rebuild my life one day at a time and come out stronger on the other side!

Now my mission is to empower women like me to prioritize their fitness and well-being in a healthy, sustainable way and build a community of strong, happy and healthy women!

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