The Difference Between Yoga And Stretch
Posted by terrepruitt on September 9, 2016
Currently I am lucky enough to teach yoga classes and a stretch class. And I say “lucky” because I was asked to do these classes but they can be cancelled at any time. Class attendance needs to stay up or the classes can get cancelled. This is the case with pretty much any type of exercise class at any type of place . . . a gym, a club, a parks and recs department, etc. Ok, but where I am actually going with this post is: people ask me all the time what the difference is between yoga and stretch. Well, my first thought is my post “More To Yoga Than Just Asana,” but that would only help to explain what yoga is and not what we do in a stretch class. Because I teach gentle yoga classes people are curious about the difference. It makes sense since they seem the same, but there are differences. In addition to breathing yoga is different from stretch by a few points.
—In yoga we work on more than just flexibility, we also work on balance and strength. In stretch we focus mainly on STRETCHING muscles and, to a lesser extent, connective tissue. We are not working either in a stabilizing or strengthening capacity.
—The poses in yoga have names, at least two, the English name and a Sanskrit name. In stretch my instruction is usually something like, “move your arm here or there” as I show them how to get into the stretch. Sometimes I do refer to an asana by name that is similar because many of the students do take yoga also, so they know what to do when I say the name of a pose.
—Some people “can’t do” yoga, but they CAN stretch. 🙂 Seriously, invite someone to a yoga class and they will say, “I can’t do yoga, I’m not flexible enough.” Invite them to a stretch class and they say, “Oh! I need to stretch.”
—With yoga, people seem to want to “get” somewhere. They want to be able to “do” a specific pose. With stretching, even though they might be able to bend deeper or more fully as time goes on, there doesn’t seem to be the urge or need to “get there”. With stretch the journey seems more important than the destination. Although it really is supposed to be the same way for yoga.
Another question I am always asked is, “Are you on the floor the whole hour?” No, but we don’t go up and down as much as in my gentle yoga classes. In both my gentle yoga classes and my stretch classes we do poses/stretches standing up and on the floor.
Stretching is so good for you. We all should be doing it, even if we don’t weight train or run marathons, it is really good to stretch the muscles. But many of us need a class, something we are committed to doing in order to actually take the time to stretch. I am happy to help in that area and teach a class.
Do you stretch?