Skip to content

What Should You Do First, Yoga or Stretching?

    One of the most favored workout routines that improve the practitioners’ mental and physical health is yoga. It contains a lot of stretching and seems like stretching, but it can be a complete workout on its own. Therefore, you may wonder what should you do first, yoga or stretching?

    If your body feels stiff or has strained or injured muscles and joints, stretching before yoga can improve the condition and prime your body for a workout. Otherwise, you can stretch after the yoga to relax the muscles, especially after a vigorous yoga session. 

    What Should You Do First, Yoga or Stretching

    If you’re curious to learn more about stretching and yoga, read the rest of this article.

    We’ll delve deep into the subject to see which one should go first, yoga or stretching.

    We’ll also look at their differences and similarities and see whether you can replace one for the other. 

    See the table below if you are in a hurry to see our top recommended yoga products that are safe, durable, easy to use, and carry.

     

    Are Yoga and Stretching the Same? 🤔

    Since yoga includes a lot of stretching, people think it’s the same as stretching and somehow can be an excellent alternative to it. But are yoga and stretching the same thing?  

    Yoga and stretching aren’t the same; however, they’re closely similar and share some movements. Stretching is a set of activities for loosening up muscles and increasing flexibility, preparing the body for exercise. On the other hand, yoga can be a complete workout routine and includes stretching.    

    Are Yoga and Stretching the Same

    Yoga and stretching are pretty different and serve different goals despite their similarities and overlapping movements.

    While stretching (static or dynamic) reduces injuries and increases muscle flexibility, yoga helps flexibility, muscle strength, breathing, and mental health and awareness.

     

    Yoga 

    Yoga is an ancient exercise that demands physical strength, balance, flexibility, proper breathing, calmness, and concentration of mind.

    Yoga uses body weight and incorporates various postures with different difficulty and complexity levels. 

    Yoga explanation

    It also requires you to focus on breathing techniques and includes meditation.

    So many yoga experts argue that it’s more than a simple workout routine and consider it a mind and body medicine. 

    Yoga has many different styles for various goals.

    For example, styles like Kundalini focus on meditation and releasing pent-up energy, while styles like Hatha are more physical and include more demanding poses.

    A regular yoga class can last 60 minutes or up to 90 minutes and, depending on its style and difficulty, can burn between 180 and 460 calories. 

    That’s why it’s considered a complete workout session. 

    Performing yoga requires some basic equipment, such as a yoga mat.

    See our top three recommended yoga mats below. 

    Manduka, our overall best product, is a high-quality yoga mat built to last a lifetime.

    Preview
    Overall Best
    Manduka PRO Yoga Mat – Premium 6mm Thick Mat, High Performance Grip, Support and Stability in Yoga, Pilates, Gym, Fitness, Extra Long, 85 Inches, Black Color
    Best Alternative
    IUGA Pro Non Slip Yoga Mat, Unbeatable Non Slip Performance, Eco Friendly and SGS Certified Material for Hot Yoga, Odorless Lightweight and Extra Large Size, Free Carry Strap
    Best Budget
    UMINEUX Yoga Mat Extra Thick 1/3'' Non Slip Yoga Mats for Women with Alignment Marks Eco Friendly TPE Fitness Exercise Mat with Carrying Strap & Storage Bag
    Product Name
    Manduka PRO Yoga Mat
    IUGA Pro Non Slip Yoga Mat
    UMINEUX Yoga Mat Extra Thick
    Thickness
    6MM
    5MM
    8MM
    Material
    Polyvinyl Chloride
    Polyurethane, Rubber
    TPE
    Weight
    ‎0.78 Kilograms
    2.5 lbs
    2.4 Pounds
    Dimensions
    85 x 26 x 0.24 inches
    85 x 26 x 0.24 inches
    72 x 24 x 0.31 inches
    Eco Friendly
    Overall Best
    Preview
    Manduka PRO Yoga Mat – Premium 6mm Thick Mat, High Performance Grip, Support and Stability in Yoga, Pilates, Gym, Fitness, Extra Long, 85 Inches, Black Color
    Product Name
    Manduka PRO Yoga Mat
    Thickness
    6MM
    Material
    Polyvinyl Chloride
    Weight
    ‎0.78 Kilograms
    Dimensions
    85 x 26 x 0.24 inches
    Eco Friendly
    Interested?
    Best Alternative
    Preview
    IUGA Pro Non Slip Yoga Mat, Unbeatable Non Slip Performance, Eco Friendly and SGS Certified Material for Hot Yoga, Odorless Lightweight and Extra Large Size, Free Carry Strap
    Product Name
    IUGA Pro Non Slip Yoga Mat
    Thickness
    5MM
    Material
    Polyurethane, Rubber
    Weight
    2.5 lbs
    Dimensions
    85 x 26 x 0.24 inches
    Eco Friendly
    Interested?
    Best Budget
    Preview
    UMINEUX Yoga Mat Extra Thick 1/3'' Non Slip Yoga Mats for Women with Alignment Marks Eco Friendly TPE Fitness Exercise Mat with Carrying Strap & Storage Bag
    Product Name
    UMINEUX Yoga Mat Extra Thick
    Thickness
    8MM
    Material
    TPE
    Weight
    2.4 Pounds
    Dimensions
    72 x 24 x 0.31 inches
    Eco Friendly
    Interested?

     

    You will also need yoga straps to help you go deeper into stretches. See our top three recommended yoga straps below:

    Preview
    Overall Best
    Tumaz Yoga Strap/Stretch Bands [15+ Colors, 6/8/8 Feet Options] with Extra Safe Adjustable D-Ring Buckle, Durable and Comfy Delicate Texture - Best for Daily Stretching, Physical Therapy, Fitness
    Best For Beginners
    SANKUU Yoga Strap, Multi-Loop Strap, 12 Loops Yoga Stretch Strap, Nonelastic Stretch Strap for Physical Therapy, Pilates, Dance and Gymnastics with Carry Bag(Green)
    Best Budget
    Scotamalone Yoga Strap Stretching Strap Physical Therapy Equipment Stretch Band Rehab Multi-Loop Strap Nonelastic Exercise Strap with Exercise Book for Pilates, Dance and Gymnastics
    Product Name
    Tumaz Yoga Strap/Stretch Bands
    SANKUU Yoga Strap
    Scotamalone Yoga Strap
    Colors
    Seventeen
    Two
    Eight
    With Buckle
    Yes
    No
    No
    User
    Any
    Beginners
    Any
    Length
    6, 8, and 10 Feet.
    8 Feet
    6.25 Feet
    Adjustable
    Elastic
    Overall Best
    Preview
    Tumaz Yoga Strap/Stretch Bands [15+ Colors, 6/8/8 Feet Options] with Extra Safe Adjustable D-Ring Buckle, Durable and Comfy Delicate Texture - Best for Daily Stretching, Physical Therapy, Fitness
    Product Name
    Tumaz Yoga Strap/Stretch Bands
    Colors
    Seventeen
    With Buckle
    Yes
    User
    Any
    Length
    6, 8, and 10 Feet.
    Adjustable
    Elastic
    Interested?
    Best For Beginners
    Preview
    SANKUU Yoga Strap, Multi-Loop Strap, 12 Loops Yoga Stretch Strap, Nonelastic Stretch Strap for Physical Therapy, Pilates, Dance and Gymnastics with Carry Bag(Green)
    Product Name
    SANKUU Yoga Strap
    Colors
    Two
    With Buckle
    No
    User
    Beginners
    Length
    8 Feet
    Adjustable
    Elastic
    Interested?
    Best Budget
    Preview
    Scotamalone Yoga Strap Stretching Strap Physical Therapy Equipment Stretch Band Rehab Multi-Loop Strap Nonelastic Exercise Strap with Exercise Book for Pilates, Dance and Gymnastics
    Product Name
    Scotamalone Yoga Strap
    Colors
    Eight
    With Buckle
    No
    User
    Any
    Length
    6.25 Feet
    Adjustable
    Elastic
    Interested?

     

    Stretching 

    Unlike yoga, stretching doesn’t stand as an independent workout and, to some extent, is a complementary practice for your daily exercise.

    Stretching Explanation

    Stretching can be static and dynamic, each serving different purposes.  See more in our post 5 stretches That Aren’t Yoga.

    While dynamic stretches are ideal for warming up before a workout, static ones are best for cooling down after your workout session. 

    Stretching can help prevent strains by increasing blood flow and reducing muscles’ tightness.

    It also helps your tendons and ligaments become more flexible and prevents joints or muscle injuries.

    However, stretching should be performed daily to be effective.

    It also positively affects your mood due to the endorphins—happiness hormones—released while performing it.

    Here are some areas in which yoga and stretching differ.

     

    Breathing 

    While both of these routines demand proper breathing, it plays a more crucial role in performing yoga poses.

    Breathing Explanation

    In yoga sessions, you practice deep and focused breathing techniques as an essential part of yoga training, and in some cases, the breathing itself is the center of concentration.

    On the contrary, in stretching, proper breathing is a necessity that helps you provide enough oxygen for your muscles during the workout and improves its effect.

    Breathing techniques don’t aim at mental awareness and are merely for physical benefits. 

     

    Fitness 

    fit yoga pose

    Yoga may seem like stretching at first look, but its poses in yoga are for different fitness levels and range from easy to challenging.

    Some of its poses are so demanding to perform that they require years of body preparation to acquire flexibility, balance, and strength. 

    However, everybody can perform stretching, regardless of their body’s flexibility or fitness level; therefore, everyone can reap the same benefits. 

    Even when you’re injured or strained, proper amounts of stretching that target your injured area can prove helpful. 

     

    Goals 

    As mentioned, stretching and yoga serve different goals.

    Yoga Stretching Goals

    Yoga is an excellent workout routine for those who want to enhance their fitness level, strength, balance, and mental health at the same time. 

    It incorporates lots of stretching and strength training almost in every pose while the practitioner focuses on their breathing and clears the mind.

    As a result, not only do they train their muscles but also their mind and soul.

    Stretching is ideal for people that aim to improve their athletic performance while working out, recover from an injury, or help their muscles relax after a tough training session.

     

    Performance 

    As mentioned, stretches are either for warming up or cooling down muscles.

    Performance

    Thus, when you perform stretching, you “stretch” your muscles until you feel uncomfortable (not pain), but in yoga, you can perform different poses in various forms. 

    For example, a specific pose follows another during a yoga session slowly and gradually.

    Hence, the workout sequence forms a flow that leads to your body and mind relaxation plus improved concentration. 

    At other times, the yoga poses change more quickly, and you consume more energy which results in your increased heart rate.

    A complete yoga session can be a full-body workout.

    Yoga can burn many calories depending on the person’s body weight and the difficulty of their poses. 

     

    Is There a Specific Order for Yoga and Stretching? 🙄

    Is There a Specific Order for Yoga and Stretching

    You can easily see that yoga and stretches complement each other, and you can do them together.

    But the question that arises here is which one should come first? 

    There’s no specific order to perform stretching and yoga. Stretching is usually a complementary routine, while yoga can be a full workout for the whole body and burn as many calories as a strength training session – or even more. 

    Suppose yoga is your main workout routine. In that case, you should use dynamic stretches as they’ll improve blood flow to muscles and joints and prime them for your main workout. 

    Moreover, if you have a muscle or joint injury, stretching your body, especially the injured area, can be helpful.

    Remember to stretch the affected area cautiously and don’t go too far; otherwise, the injury will worsen. 

    If you don’t feel stiff at the beginning of your workout session (yoga) and don’t have any pre-existing injury or strain, then go ahead and complete your yoga session.

    In this case, you can use stretching (the static ones) to relax your muscles and cool them down. 

    Here is a great video to learn more about yoga warm-up stretches.

     

    Can Yoga Be an Alternative to Stretching? 🤸‍♀️

    Many people think stretching and yoga are the same, and even some argue that yoga can replace stretching.

    Yoga can replace stretching if you choose the right style. Yoga has different styles with varying difficulty and diverse target areas and fitness goals. Styles like Yin and Hatha target the deep connective tissues and fascia and are ideal for stretching and improving flexibility. 

    Can Yoga Be an Alternative to Stretching

    However, sometimes yoga can’t fully replace stretching.

    Stretching appears more helpful if you aim to work on specific areas of your body that feel stiff or are injured. 

    Besides, it’s a better option if you wish to perform better in other workouts or sports. 

    For example, runners may focus more on hamstring and leg stretches, or bikers focus on quad stretches as these are the main muscles involved during such sports. If you do back stretches you may also use yoga wheels for your back.

    Stretching allows them to focus on muscles that play a crucial role in their performance. 

    In the same way, if you have a prescribed stretching program by a physiotherapist or other medical experts, yoga can’t replace it.

    For example, people who undergo a knee replacement operation may usually receive special exercise programs that ensure their knee remains healthy and strong. 

     

    Conclusion 👌

    Think about fitness

    Yoga and stretching can seem similar but are different practices with different goals. 

    While yoga can be a complete workout, stretching serves as a complementary or preparatory routine. 

    Suppose you feel stiff or have an injury; stretching before yoga helps mobility and flexibility. 

    Otherwise, you can do it after the yoga session to relax your tired muscles or mind. 

    Last update on 2022-05-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

    nv-author-image

    James Wright

    James (36) has been working out since he was 15 years old. He has a home gym where he pumps iron, does bodyweight workouts and boxing. He likes sharing his experiences with others who want to build a better physique.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published.

    I accept the Privacy Policy