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Yoga vs. Stretching

December 28, 2021
Yoga vs Stretching

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Yoga vs. Stretching: How to Decide Which One Best Meets Your Body’s Needs

You know you need to get your body moving—but you're not sure if yoga or stretching is best.

What is the difference between stretching and yoga? Which one should you do to stay healthy and fit?

Although there are many benefits to both yoga and stretching, it can be difficult to know which is right for you and your goals.

Once you learn the differences and benefits of each, you'll be ready to get your body moving in no time.

In this article, we compare yoga vs. stretching to help you decide which one is right for your needs.

Table of Contents

Is Stretching or Yoga Better?
What Is Yoga?
Benefits of Yoga
What Is Stretching?
Benefits of Stretching
Yoga vs. Stretching? 5 Key Differences
4 Factors to Consider When Deciding if Yoga or Stretching Is Right for You
Contact a Body & Brain Yoga Tai Chi Location Near You and Learn How to Care for Your Physical, Emotional, and Spiritual Well-being

Is Stretching or Yoga Better?

Yoga and stretching workouts are both beneficial for your body. But it's impossible to say which one is better for everyone.

Whichever workout you choose depends on the purpose you have in mind when doing these exercises—toning up or just relaxing after a long day.

You can also combine yoga and stretching by doing yoga 2 to 3 times per week and performing some light static stretches after a more strenuous strength training or cardio session.

The Purpose of Stretching

Stretching can aid in:

• The rehabilitation of an injury
• Increased flexibility
• Better athletic performance
• The treatment of problem areas (i.e. lower back)

The Purpose of Yoga

Yoga, on the other hand, can help you to do all that stretching encompasses, while also teaching you how to:

• Breathe correctly
• Enhance emotional wellness
• Gain mental clarity
• Activate and strengthen your inner self

What Is Yoga?

Yoga is an ancient practice that entails not only focused breathing, stretching, and balance but also a high degree of focus and calmness of mind.

There are various styles of yoga that have developed from fundamental yoga principles within the past century.

At Body & Brain Yoga Tai Chi, we practice yoga that is:

• A Korean style of yoga
• Great for any skill level or age
• Not considered a workout (unlike other well-known yoga styles)

All yoga styles have more than just a physical component. They also include diverse breathing methods and even meditation.

Benefits of Yoga

Because of the mindfulness of yoga, its practice not only benefits your physical health but your emotional and mental well-being too.

Known as mind-body medicine, yoga is much more than a typical fitness routine because its benefits can help you feel:

• More rested due to better sleep
• Stronger and more energized
Inner peace, harmony, and relief from stress
• Healthier by supporting your immune system
• Better at flexibility, balance, and range of motion

Yoga can help you to achieve better health and fitness goals.

What Is Stretching?

Stretching is a form of physical exercise where you use...

• Static holds,
• Dynamic movements; and
• Sometimes the assistance of equipment

...to stretch your muscles for increased flexibility, range of motion, and muscle strength.

Stretching can increase blood flow throughout the body. This can help improve both mental and physical performance as well as reduce pain in tight or stiff joints.

The stretching exercises that you perform will depend on what area of the body needs attention most at that time.

Benefits of Stretching

Depending on the type of stretches you’re doing, they can include various improvements to your health, including:

• Management of muscle pain
• Loosening stiff joints
• Improved blood circulation
• Increased energy levels throughout your body

Stretching is often used to begin or end traditional strength training or cardio aerobic workouts.

Yoga vs. Stretching? 5 Key Differences

The main difference between yoga and stretching is:

• Yoga often requires you to perform a series of postures or poses at various levels of difficulty.
Whereas
• Stretching only entails moving your muscles through their full range of motion.

Both yoga and stretching have the goals of...

• Flexibility
• Strength; and
• Range of motion

… but yoga also has goals that relate to a peaceful state of mind.

There is often confusion between yoga vs. stretching because both can have multiple benefits for the human body. Let’s take a look at how each compares in five different areas.

#1 Mental Engagement

Yoga is a physical and mental practice that brings the mind and body together—while simultaneously focusing on your breathing and bringing awareness to your body to stay present, centered, and focused.

Stretching is a physical exercise that is less about mindfulness and more about the physical benefits it can provide.

Without engaging the mind, one could view the body with a mechanical mindset.

But the body is not a machine as it responds to energy levels.

Consider how "mindlessness" can do a disservice to the body—while “mindfulness” can bring about not only physical benefit but greater awareness of self.

#2: Ability Level

Yoga and stretching can benefit most anyone. But because yoga has a more complex component, it is dependent on varying degrees of mobility.

For example...

Traditional yoga lessons can range from beginner to advanced, with certain positions requiring years to master.

On the other hand, Body & Brain Yoga can be tailored to the body's needs and ability. And like stretching, it does not have any prerequisites.

No matter your ability level, you can participate in a yoga class with Body & Brain Yoga Tai Chi.

#3: Breathing

The postures in some types of yoga have breathing exercises, which are done while performing the activities. You must use a complete, deep diaphragmatic breath except when instructed otherwise throughout the session.

Yoga instructors will frequently tell you when to breathe in and out. This advice will be linked to the yoga motions. In some cases, the breath is held for a certain amount of time.

When performing stretches, you simply breathe normally and there are no special breathing instructions provided.

#4: Poses

Stretching uses muscles (while holding a posture) to create flow. You stretch the muscle until it reaches its limit. You push your body to the point of discomfort before it becomes unpleasant, releasing tension in the process.

Yoga, on the other hand, uses the wisdom of meridian channels (energy channels) to bend and twist the body in a more holistic, energy-based way. It is often a collection of different postures. Some of these may be similar to stretches (or even identical) in terms of intensity, but the majority are distinct. The poses may change frequently, or you might hold a posture for several breaths.

#5: Equipment

You don't need any special equipment to stretch. You are welcome to stretch on a yoga mat or towel, but it's not necessary.

But you may need some equipment to participate in some yoga studios, such as:

• A yoga mat
• Yoga blocks
• Blankets
• A strap or belt

The equipment you will need will depend on the type of yoga you choose.

4 Factors to Consider When Deciding if Yoga or Stretching Is Right for You

Are you trying to decide between yoga and stretching?

Both can help to improve muscle tone and range of motion. But they have different benefits.

If you're not quite sure which will work best for you, here are some factors to consider when deciding if yoga or stretching is right for you.

#1: What Are Your Reasons for Seeking One of These Outlets?

Yoga has been helpful for many people to:

• Take part in personal reflection or self-realization
• Ease symptoms of pain from injury recovery
• Improve physical performance
• Alleviate symptoms of stress, anxiety, or depressive moods

Some people may use yoga as a means to have regular social activity with others at a yoga studio.

Stretching on the other hand is usually performed before the start of the exercise program or after a short warm-up to help:

• Your body to cool down after working out
• Prevent muscle stiffness
• Improve your posture, flexibility, and circulation

Stretching is often not considered a workout in and of itself.

#2: What Are Your Goals?

If your goals include to...

• Perform a physical activity that helps you ease symptoms of pain from injury
• Focus on breathing and meditation to connect your mind and body
• Help manage stress levels and anxiousness
• Improve flexibility and range of motion; and
• Have better posture, flexibility, and circulation

...then yoga may be what you're searching for.

However, if your goals are only to...

• Increase flexibility and range of motion
• Develop your posture; and
• Have better circulation

...then stretching may be your best bet.

After looking over these goals, are you wondering, “Is yoga stretching?” or “Is yoga a stretching exercise?”

In short, yes because yoga is a more encompassing activity that includes stretching and its benefits.

#3: How Much Time Do You Want to Commit?

A yoga session can range from a few minutes–to an hour–or longer.

Stretching usually lasts about ten minutes at most per session.

Is your schedule already packed with work and family responsibilities, but you still want to squeeze in some exercise?

Try a combination of both stretches and yoga throughout your week depending on your schedule.

#4: What Is Your Budget?

The decision between yoga vs. stretching may come down to what you need, want, and can afford.

If it's free that you need, then you can perform both yoga and stretching at home. But if you're committed to all the benefits yoga can give you, consider trying a yoga studio.

You might find that a little taken from your budget each week reaps great rewards.

Contact a Body & Brain Yoga Tai Chi Location Near You and Learn How to Care for Your Physical, Emotional, and Spiritual Well-being

Yoga is a great way to improve your physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.

Our instructors are trained in how to provide you with the best yoga session possible.

They know what poses and moves work for different issues.

They also have training in movement, posture, and alignment that informs their instruction on how to avoid injury when stretching.

Find a Body & Brain Yoga Tai Chi studio near you.

We'll show you everything from breathing techniques to meditation tips so you can live healthier by practicing at home after class ends.