1 January 2021

Yoga vs Stretching: Which is Best For You?

When you hear about healthy things that you can do at home, yoga and stretching are often two of the things that are given. Which is best for you? You may be surprised!

Yoga vs Stretching: The Differences

One of the biggest differences between these two is that stretching is often done before or after a workout to help stretch the muscles so that you are not feeling the effects of this later. However, yoga is often considered a workout on its own. So much so, that many people use stretches after they perform yoga.

Another major difference between these two is that yoga has a specific breathing exercise that goes with the poses. When taking a yoga class, instructors are often telling people when to inhale and exhale, or even hold their breath during a pose. Whereas with stretching, you breathe normally doing these poses.

Yoga is known for mental engagement. While you are doing yoga poses, you are focusing on breathing exercises, as well as focusing the mind which has been shown to help with reducing anxiety and stress. Stretching may help to relieve some anxiety but does not focus on the mental engagement like yoga does.

In terms of physical abilities, stretching is considered safe for anyone to do. However, yoga has different fitness levels to it. For those who are older, frail or obese, yoga is often modified to fit their needs when compared to someone who is young and healthy.

Is Yoga best for Stretching?

When it comes to stretching, certain yoga poses can be beneficial for the body. However, when it comes to getting all the benefits of stretching exercises, these often don’t use a lot of yoga poses. This is going to come down to a personal preference, as well as an idea of what you are hoping to achieve. Are you looking for strength training, then yoga stretches can be helpful. However, if you are looking to stretch muscles, then stretching exercises may be best.

The Best Non-Yoga Stretches

There are several non-yoga stretches out there that are great for your body and will help to stretch those muscles, which is important for those who may have had a hard workout or who have been holding themselves in a tense position for several hours, such as those who work at desks throughout the day.

  1. Chest stretch: The chest and shoulders are stretched in this exercise and can be done from a sitting or standing position. You are going to want to put your arms behind you, lace your fingers together. Then straighten the arms and gently lift your hands up a few inches until you feel the stretch in your chest. You can hold this for 10 to 30 seconds.
  2. Shoulder shrug: Lift the shoulders up towards your ears, squeezing them as hard as you can. Hold this for two seconds, then roll them back as you relax. Repeat this for 8 reps.
  3. Neck stretch: Sit in a chair and reach down with the right hand and pull on the seat as you tilt your head to left. Then repeat with the left hand looking towards the right. Hold each side for around 10 seconds.

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