Although stretching and yoga have a few overlaps, they are two very different practices. For this reason, they have separate roles to play in your fitness routine. To determine when is the appropriate time for one or the other, we need to make a comparison between stretching vs yoga.
Similarities Between the Two
To understand the reason for the belief that stretching and yoga are virtually the same, let’s look at how they are similar. Both relieve tightness in muscles. Both can engage the entire body. They can have some of the same goals.
Here the similarities end.
With that out of the way, we can begin to examine the many differences.
Poses vs Stretching Exercises
Stretching involves holding a position. You work on lengthening the muscle until you are stretching to the maximum. You push your body to the point just before it becomes uncomfortable, often leading to a release in tension.
A yoga workout, on the other hand, is made up of many poses. Some of these are similar (or even the same) as stretches, but a large number are quite distinct.
Furthermore, a yoga workout can be in the form of a flow, moving from one pose to another. Sometimes you hold a pose for several breaths, sometimes you change from one to another quite rapidly. This means that, although yoga can be relaxing, in other cases it can cause your heart rate to rise. Power yoga and strength-building workouts are good examples of this.
Central to yoga is breathing technique. You breathe as deep and as long as you can. Breathing in stretching, however, teaches you to improve how you breathe during exercise. It helps you practice to avoid holding your breath.
Aims of the Practice
Whereas a stretching and yoga routine may have the same aims, it is also possible that they have very different goals. For instance, stretching can help you recover from an injury, become more flexible, improve your athletic performance, or target a particular problem area like your lower back. In contrast, whereas yoga is often for flexibility and focus, it can also be for strength, posture, and balance.
Anyone can practice yoga just as anyone can (and should) stretch. However, yoga workouts are designed for different ability levels. Some poses take many years to achieve and are impossible before your body has developed the necessary strength and openness.
Stretching is accessible to everyone. Although you may find that you are unable to get deep into some stretches, you will receive the same benefits as someone who is extremely flexible in the same muscle.
When choosing between stretching vs yoga, you need to decide what you are looking to gain from the practice. If you want to add an extra workout to your training that focuses on breathing, strength, and balance, among other things, opt for yoga. However, If you want to improve performance with regular training, return after an injury, or improve your flexibility in a particular area of the body, stretching is the better option. At Stretch Station, we focus on creating a unique and tailored assisted stretching program in order to aid your overall health.