How Yoga Is Different From Stretching

Yoga Vs. Stretching
Not All Stretching Is Yoga. knape/Vetta/Getty Images

Frequently Asked Question: How is yoga different from stretching?

Answer: Although yoga involves stretching your muscles, it also includes a whole lot more than the basics stretches you might do at the gym. Let's look at a few of the ways yoga is different:

  • The flexibility you get from stretching is a big part of yoga, but building strength is equally important. With strength comes control over your physical body and better balance. A well-rounded yoga practice includes working on both flexibility and strength, often right in the same pose.
     
  • Yoga stretches are taught with an emphasis on alignment, meaning that how you are attempting to touch your toes is more important than whether you can actually touch them or not. This helps keep your body safe and free from injury as it opens.
     
  • Attention to the breath and tuning in to the subtle sensations of the body introduce a degree of mindfulness to even simple yoga poses that is often missing from stretching.
     
  • Many of today’s most popular yoga classes are vinyasa/flow style. This means there is movement from pose to pose with an awareness of the breath, which focuses attention not only on the poses but on the transitions between them. 
     
  • Asana, or the physical practice of postures, in only one aspect of a yoga practice, albeit the most widely practiced one these days. Even if you only engage in yoga through asana practice (an excellent place to start), there are actually eight limbs of yoga, most of which have nothing to do with stretching.

    In Other Words...

    Stretching is something that you do with your body. Yoga is concerned with the body, breath, mind, and spirit. Yoga includes stretching, but it doesn't stop there. 

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