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Yoga vs Stretching

Yoga vs Stretching - Understanding the Differences

Are your necks and shoulder stiff? Do you feel pains around your lower back? Do you know what action you need to take?  Should you take up yoga classes or just stretch? This can cause confusions if care is taken. 

Just because you stretch often does not mean you should not do yoga. Also if you think because you are starting out Yoga, you would not need stretching you are very wrong. Stretching and yoga may feel like the same.

However, they should never be substituted for each other. They perform different functions in your entire work routine.

Stretching is simply putting your limbs into positions that make the muscles feel less tight. Oxford dictionary defines yoga as "A Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline, a part of which, including breath control, simple mediation and the adoption of specific bodily postures, is widely practiced for health and relaxation. 

Recommended: Cork Yoga Mat

Understand Stretching and Yoga

To understand stretching and yoga well, we need to do a comparison of stretching vs yoga. Even though stretching and yoga are distinct, they have some similarities. 

  1. They aid in the reduction of muscle tightness.
  2. When practiced, they engage the whole body.
  3. They help in the reduction of injury.
  4. They can support any form of workout session.

yoga vs stretching

Differences: Stretching Vs Yoga

  • Stretching purely focuses on the main muscles groups. However, yoga focuses less on these main muscle groups.
  • Only yoga focuses on flexibility and mobility.
  • Yoga can make the heart to rise faster but stretching does not.
  • Yoga can be in form of a flow. This means that you can move from one yoga pose to another. On the other hand, stretching can be done one spot alone.
  • They both have different roles.
  • Stretching requires fewer activities. In contrast, yoga involves several practices which take a longer period of time to master.
  • Yoga involves training the mind, body and soul. However, stretching is fitness training for the joints, muscles and spines.
  • While stretching can be done by the people of different fitness level, yoga techniques are different for each fitness level. A particular type of yoga pose can even take a while for someone to master properly.

Stretching vs Yoga: Which to do and when

Stretching can be done before or after a workout session. For example, before or after you go jogging stretching is helpful. Doing this will help prevent and reduce the stiffness of the muscles. Stretching usually last for about 10-15 minutes depending on the type of muscle you intend to stretch. The following steps should be followed when doing any type of stretches

  1. Stretch after a workout session. This is ideal as it helps one to warm-up and allow for blood to flow properly in the muscles.
  2. Always relax when stretching. There must not be any room for any form of tension. 
  3. Always breathe properly to allow the full flow of air in the nostrils. If you are not breathing properly you would not be able to relax.
  4. It is advisable to repeat each stretch for a particular muscle or part of the body at least twice. This helps to achieve desirable results.
  5. Once you feel any type of sharp pain you should stop and rest. If you do not rest for a while you might get injured.

Yoga Workout Session

Yoga can be done alone as a workout session. Yoga Journal in a study discovered that yoga being done alone as a workout session for fitness. It can also be done as part of a workout session. 

Yoga usually last for about an hour. The idea of incorporating yoga as a workout session can seem impossible or unrealistic for a beginner. However, it just as easy to start as another workout exercises. Just like any other activity, it takes time and constant practice to master. 

Stretching focuses on a particular muscle group. Kristin McGee an expert instructor in Peloton noted in an article that the particular stretching to be done depend on which part of the body that the stretching focused on. For instance, if you exercise your right body, the type of stretching to be done must focus on the upper body. 

To solve the problem of making a choice between yoga and stretching, you need to decide on what goal you are trying to achieve. If you want a training regimen for your mind, body and soul, you should do yoga. 

Yoga & Flexibility & Mobility

One of the things that come to our minds when we think of yoga is flexibility. When we watch people who do yoga we are amazed on how flexible they seem. When you take up yoga classes, two main goals to be achieved are flexibility and mobility. These goals are seen as the qualities that you are meant to improve on when engaging in Yoga. Flexibility and mobility are usually terms we exchange for each other. However they are not the same as they mean different things.

Flexibility mainly has to do with how long a muscle that crosses a joint can be extended. Mobility entails how the joint and all associated structures actually move. Simply put, flexibility deals with how far or close a joint moves while mobility is a range of motion and determines if a person can control their body within the range. David Hastie, a Physical Therapist at Twenty Two Training noted "You need the flexibility to get in certain positions like a deep squat but you wouldn't be able to maintain the correct form without sufficient mobility".

The preconceived notion and thought is flexibility improves the health of tissues and joints. This is wrong as mobility improves the health joints and tissues. To prevent injuries, one must close the gap between flexibility and mobility. You cannot decide to only work on one and leave the other. When engaging in Yoga, one must make sure that activities involved improve both the body's flexibility and mobility.


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