Summer is here, and everyone’s goal is to get to their desired body shape. However, few have the time and energy to follow a strict exercise program. For that reason, many find yoga workouts much more effective and time-efficient.
Yoga practice has been around for centuries. It involves focusing on your mind-body connections. It consists in using breathing techniques that relieve muscle tension and demands calmness of mind.
Although yoga workouts and stretching exercises seem similar, their routines are very different. Yoga includes much more than simple stretching. In this article, we will find out the difference between yoga vs stretching.
Stretching is a type of exercise that mostly involves placing a certain group of muscles into one position and holding it for some time. With stretching, you activate certain muscles to improve their flexibility and elasticity.
It works by creating tension in your muscles and ligaments and then releasing it.
As you might know, the muscles in our body are composed of many fibers that can elongate and contract. When stretching, the fibers push their length gradually to the maximum, thus pushing the connective tissue in our body to stretch as well. This is why initially, it hurts when stretching.
However, stretching requires a short period of holding the tension. This is because you don’t want the elongation tension to snap and cause your body an injury. A simple and gentle stretch is good enough to help you improve your flexibility and provide your body with the necessary relaxation.
There are several benefits you can gain from stretching:
- It helps you loosen stiff joints
- It can increase workout energy
- It can help decrease muscle pain from injury
- It warms up the body by improving circulation
Because stretching is the main component of yoga, many people confuse them with another. Traditional yoga involves static and dynamic stretches of the muscles.
You start with static stretches and then gradually or abruptly change the course of the flow by adding more dynamic to the movement. However, with yoga, the goal isn’t to stretch your body.
You might need a yoga mat, a strap, and a set of instructions that you have to follow in order to achieve the poses. Doing the poses correctly will give you even more benefits than simple stretching. Over time, you will acquire more strength, flexibility, improved blood flow, and better self-care as it lowers your anxiety.
A yoga workout consists of many poses that change when inhaling or exhaling. You slowly move between the yoga poses, gradually enhancing your range of motion. Some poses involve relaxation, while others involve rapid changes, increasing your heart rate.
The main goal of stretching is holding one pose to increase flexibility. By being bent, you lengthen your leg muscles. Stretching involves pushing your muscles to maximum length, so it’s uncomfortable. Then hold onto that position for several seconds and release tension.
The main goal of Yoga is to work on breathing techniques while engaging your entire body. By breathing in deeply, you can release the stiffness in your body, thus avoiding long-term injury. If you sign in to a yoga class, they will tell you that breathing deeply is the key to battling depression.
These methods help with understanding how to use your lungs better. Many people suffering from asthma and COPD have improved oxygen transportation in the bloodstream by doing yoga.
Breathing in yoga also helps us connect with ourselves. You take notice of what level of consciousness you’re at. These breathing exercises promote meditation. They reduce anxiety and keep your emotional wellness balanced.
This is the part where yoga and stretching differentiate the most. Stretching can do anyone. You don’t need any specialized instructors to tell you how to stretch.
And, you don’t even have to do deep exercises to activate a particular muscle group. No matter how little or how much you stretch, you still get approximately the same results.
Stretching is a great way to prevent and recover from injuries. It improves your flexibility at a particular place on your body and even helps you improve performance when training.
Yoga is a bit different. There are several components of yoga that require you to have different ability levels. There are many yoga workout poses that you can only achieve after years of practicing yoga.
This is because power yoga requires built-up strength and muscle openness. Yoga is an excellent addition to your regular workouts. It can help build additional strength in your quads, knees and other joints, and glutes.
When trying out yoga, you have to think of your personal goal. It is an individual and unique experience for everyone. Before deciding which type of yoga you will be doing, consider your ability levels.
This means that you have to choose the type according to how much strength and flexibility you have. Not only that, but you have to pay attention to whether you have any injuries or damage to your body. Because
Here are several types of yoga you can choose from according to your needs.
Hatha yoga is also known as the “Yoga of Force.” This type of yoga is done with simple and slow movements. You slowly do one pose, hold it for some time and relax. When doing these poses, it is essential to pay attention to breathing. This whole yoga type is dedicated to meditation and working on breathwork.
Hatha Yoga is ideal for beginners. Depending on your personal needs, you can learn how to d the poses without pushing your body too much. Although it lasts 45-90 minutes at most, this yoga offers numerous benefits, including:
- Lowering stress levels
- Improved core strength and body balance
- Improved sleep
- Better flexibility and posture
- It provides relaxation and reduces symptoms of depression
- It helps you practice meditation and mindfulness
- It can help relax painful areas
Although quite similar, Vinyasa Yoga focuses on breathwork even more. However, within this type of yoga, you change the poses seamlessly. This type is more fitting for fit people, people that have more considerable flexibility and can do exercises at a faster pace.
These yoga classes are often fast-paced if you’re a beginner. They require more stamina as they can increase your heart rate a bit faster. It is ideal for anyone who wants an experience similar to a workout or even CrossFit.
Here are some benefits it offers:
- Improves your core strength and stability
- It is suitable for the lungs as it increases the capacity of your lungs.
- It helps you burn calories and lose body fat
- It has been shown that not only does it improve mental clarity, but it can also help with memory and focus
- Boosts the immune system and enables you to be even more healthy
In Yoga Sutras, the collection of yoga practices, Ashtanga Yoga is known as the eight-limbed yoga. This means that eight paths are envisioned to achieve the ideal yoga discipline. You can understand the eight paths/steps under three categories or steps.
In the first step, you can find the yoga ethics. Here, you can learn about the behavior required to master the discipline of doing yoga.
The second section of yoga is made up of its external facets, which involve control over and separation from the body’s physiological requirements.
The last stage focuses on transitioning from the physical requirements to the metaphysical.
The Ashtanga Yoga has eight disciplines:
- Yoga Asana
We will focus on Yoga Asana. It is mainly known as the general practice of yoga poses but can also mean a specific pose. However, it is essential to understand that asana is mostly the typical pose you do with your body.
You can do Yoga Asana to improve balance, strengthen your body, improve posture, and relieve tightness in your hamstrings and thighs.
In conclusion, whether yoga is better than stretching is a question whose answer depends on the individual. Perhaps you’re more interested in improving your exercise and workouts with simple stretching. Or maybe you’re more drawn to the flow Yoga offers.
There isn’t really a factual answer of which one is better. If you’re unsure whether you’re more into improving your flexibility or strengthening your breathwork, you can combine yoga and stretch into an even more unique experience.
For example, if you’re an athlete who wants to improve balance, yoga can complement your balance and core strength. Not only that, but it can also help decrease the stress in your joints and mind.
You can also use stretching with yoga itself. For example, stretching is an excellent way to support your yoga poses when your body is overworked if you’ve had constant injuries.
Stretching before yoga mostly depends on the type of yoga you plan to do. For example, stretching isn’t necessary if you want to practice Hatha Yoga. That is because, in yoga itself, the exercises you will be doing are slow and gentle on your body.
On the other hand, if you’re going for a more upbeat version of these poses, such as in the Ashtanga and Vinyasa, you will need a bit of a warm-up. So, incorporating several minutes of stretching will help prepare your body to do longer and harder exercises.
There isn’t an answer to this question. All of these types of yoga are meant for people with different capabilities.
For example, if you’re fit and can handle fast-paced workouts, Vinyasa and Ashtanga are the better options. There are other Yoga styles you can look up to see whether they’re right for you.
And, if you don’t have the time or the energy to do these Crossfit level poses, then the Hatha Yoga style might be perfect for you.