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.
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.
Yoga and stretching are pretty different and serve different goals despite their similarities and overlapping movements.
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.
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.
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.
You will also need yoga straps to help you go deeper into stretches. See our top three recommended yoga straps below:
Unlike yoga, stretching doesn’t stand as an independent workout and, to some extent, is a complementary practice for your daily exercise.
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.
While both of these routines demand proper breathing, it plays a more crucial role in performing yoga poses.
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.
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.
Even when you’re injured or strained, proper amounts of stretching that target your injured area can prove helpful.
As mentioned, stretching and yoga serve different 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.
As mentioned, stretches are either for warming up or cooling down muscles.
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.
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.
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.
However, sometimes yoga can’t fully replace stretching.
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.
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