With yoga gaining popularity in recent years, you might have heard people say different things. A famous debate is that yoga is just a fancy word for stretching. But is it? Are there stretches that are not yoga?
Despite their similarities, stretching and yoga are different practices and serve different purposes. Although they share poses and moves, many stretching exercises don’t count as yoga. They’re often easier to do and take less time.
Read on to find out how stretching and yoga differ. We’ll also introduce some non-yoga stretches you can add to your daily routine. Also, see yoga strap stretches for your shoulders for more information.
See the table below if you are in a hurry to see the top products to help you with yoga and regular stretches.
How Is Yoga Different From Stretching? 🤔
If you’ve ever signed up for a yoga class, you’ve probably noticed that some poses are similar to regular stretches.
It incorporates different breathing techniques and even meditation.
As a result, it benefits both your physical and mental health.
On the other hand, stretching focuses on improving muscle flexibility and range of motion. It has no mental component.
Some yoga poses might be similar to plain stretching, but yoga and stretching poses are different and serve different purposes.
You begin to feel much better after doing either. In addition, both types of workouts can target all major muscle groups.
With that brief explanation, let’s delve into how the two practices differ.
But before we do that, check out our top three recommended exercise mats you can use for stretching and yoga.
The main difference between yoga and other stretching practices is the breathing techniques.
People have been teaching yoga breathing methods throughout the ages.
The correct techniques to inhale and exhale are essential for yoga practice as they usually align with the movements.
You should breathe deeply and fully through your diaphragm during practice, and with some moves, you need to hold your breath.
Mindfulness and Completeness
Yoga is a spiritual practice. It establishes a connection between your body and mind to relieve mental and physical distress.
Presence, attention, and openness are necessary when practicing yoga.
It also contributes to a deeper spiritual connection.
That’s why it’s considered a complete workout and not just a preparation step before a performance.
A yoga session usually lasts from 60 to 90 minutes.
Unlike yoga, stretching isn’t a full workout.
That’s why it’s usually performed before or after a training session to warm up or cool down.
Stretching exercises help you gain flexibility and recover from injury.
These exercises can take between 5 and 10 minutes based on your physical ability and the muscles you want to engage.
You can improve your posture, flexibility, and circulation with stretching exercises.
Although the two terms evoke similar ideas, they have a huge difference.
Flexibility is passive. It refers to your muscle’s ability to stretch. A simple example is when you reach down to touch your toes.
You need to stretch your hamstrings to do this, and if they’re not flexible enough, you’ll have a hard time bending.
Mobility is active. It means having an extended range of motion, like moving one arm to an extended position without help from the other arm.
The emphasis of yoga is on the transition between poses, enhancing your balance, and building strength.
An example of this is the transition from a Warrior II position to a Chaturanga pose after a few breaths.
In contrast, stretching exercises don’t build your strength. They hold a position to stretch a group of target muscles.
Even dynamic stretches aren’t primarily strength-building activities.
Is Yoga Better Than Stretching? 🤷♂️
The answer depends on what you want from an exercise. The benefits of stretching and yoga sometimes overlap, extending to the mind and body.
If you’re looking for an extra workout, choose yoga because it gives you strength, breathing, focus, and awareness.
For example, Hatha yoga offers static, dynamic, and balancing postures that cultivate strength and flexibility to increase the range of motion.
So, it’s perfect if you’re already engaging in exercises such as weight lifting, athletics, or Crossfit.
You can improve your performance and prevent injuries with warm-up and cool-down stretching routines.
Stretch Exercises That Aren’t Yoga. 😃
Although yoga and stretching have common moves, many stretches don’t fall under the purview of yoga.
You can use a yoga strap to help you go deeper into stretches. Here are some great yoga straps if you don’t own one already.
Check out some simple non-yoga stretching exercises you can add to your daily routine:
Sit down on the floor and cross your legs in a comfortable position. You can put a pillow or mat under your hips for more comfort.
Then, slowly tilt your head to the left side and pause to feel the stretch in your neck.
You can place your right hand on the floor and your left hand on your right ear to intensify the stretch.
Repeat the same steps for the right side.
Sit on the floor with an upright posture. Put your right hand on the left knee as you take and expand your left hand behind you.
Slowly turn your upper body to the left and look behind you. Keep the position for 15-20 seconds.
Come back to the center. Breathe, and put your left hand on the right knee as you expand your right hand behind you.
Turn your body to the right and look back to deepen the stretch. Hold for 15-20 seconds.
Grab and hold your knees with your hands. Start by drawing your knees up toward your chest.
Simultaneously, round out your back, lower your chin towards your chest, and bring your forehead to your knees.
To deepen the stretch in your shoulder blades, you can add gentle movements.
Once you’re back in a sitting position, extend your gaze upward as you widen your chest and arch your back.
Repeat five times.
Sit on the floor with your legs crossed. Extend your left leg slightly forward, but don’t straighten it.
Then, place your left palm on the extended leg, and shift forward. You should feel the stretch in your left hip.
To take the stretch further, you can put your right hand on the left foot and bend your torso forward.
You can add a little pressure on the left (extended) knee and push it to the ground if you’re comfortable.
Take deep breaths as you hold the position for 15-30 seconds. Then switch sides.
Inner Thigh Stretch
Sit cross-legged on the floor, extend your left leg completely, and draw your right leg towards you.
Keep your left toes upwards. Keep your back straight and in good posture.
Begin by taking your left hand and placing it over your right (folded) knee as you draw the opposite arm up and over that left leg.
Pause where you feel the stretch on the right side of your body and in your inner thigh.
Keep the position for 15-30 seconds, then switch sides.
Here’s a 15-minute full-body stretching routine from German instructor Mady Morrison.
You can follow her moves and get all the stretches your body needs for a fulfilling day.
Bottom Line 😎
To decide between stretching and yoga, you must decide what you hope to achieve from the practice.
Stretching is a simple and accessible exercise.
It’s a wonderful way to start your day, doesn’t need any equipment, and takes hardly any time.
If you think you’re too stiff to do yoga or don’t have that much time around the day, you can start with quick five-minute stretches and work your way up.
Non-yoga stretching will help you improve your flexibility in a particular area or improve your overall performance throughout the day.
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Last update on 2022-05-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API