Yoga vs Stretching: What’s the Difference And Which to Do

Yoga vs. Stretching- Whats the Difference And Which to do

As someone who is new to yoga or perhaps not even a Yogi, it may be hard to understand the difference between a yoga pose and a simple good stretch.

In fact, it may even look like yoga is just a fancy form of stretching.

While yoga and stretching his emphasis on various body positions that lengthen and strengthen the body, yoga is so much more than simply stretching.

So what exactly is the difference between yoga and stretching?

Well, the fundamental differences are that yoga is more a strength practice while stretching is only focused on flexibility. Yoga requires you to breathe and focus while stretching is something you can do in the evening while watching TV. And ultimately, while yoga fills you with a feeling of calmness, stretching is something that you instinctively feel you need to hurry along and get done.

The differences between yoga and stretching go far deeper than that, and the following article will explore some of those differences.

Is yoga just glorified stretching?

Woman Stretching

While you may be tempted to think of yoga as nothing more than glorified stretching, the opposite is true.

Yoga has a lot of physical poses and postures such as getting on your mat, touching your toes, and sweating a little or a lot.

However, there’s also a lot of stretches that you do during your yoga workout or at least what may seem like a lot of stretching.

Lots of people struggle to understand the key differences between yoga and stretching however it is simple to understand.

Yoga involves so much more than simply stretching or lengthening your muscles.

There’s a strong emphasis placed on breathing, and it helps you to relax and meditate.

Breathing in helps you get deeper into your muscles, and there’s a constant focus on inhaling and exhaling, which ultimately allows you to pay more attention to your body and become more aware of it.

Yoga also combines alignment, balance, strength, and various other aspects that make you more aware and powerful.

So just like lifting weights and not stretching won’t be very effective for you, likewise stretching without combining balance and alignment will not have much benefit as well.

What is Yoga Really About?

Woman Exercising Yoga

One of the best ways to get a deep understanding of yoga and how it differs from stretching is to understand this art form truly.

Firstly, you need to expel the notion that yoga is only practiced by fit and attractive looking people that can bend into nearly impossible poses and postures.

Yoga is much more therapeutic in nature, and it’s a form of exercise that leads to the strengthening and lengthening of your body.

It does this by combining breathing, balance, and calmness of mind, along with the physical stretching and posing.

Yoga, in fact, originated more than 5000 years ago and is based on a holistic healing approach that combines the physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of moving your body to improve your overall health and well-being.

Yoga has its roots in ancient Indian philosophy and combines various physical postures with breathing techniques such as relaxation and meditation.

It’s also recognized by the National Institute of health.

Yogis have tried to define yoga in different ways; however, one of the most practical ways is found in the yoga sutras and defines yoga as the ability to focus the mind for extended periods of time.

Yoga is also referred to as dexterity in action in the Bhagavad-Gita, which is Hindu text.

So ultimately, yoga is more than just physically moving your body.

Although it does improve flexibility, strength, balance, and endurance, it also helps to facilitate mindfulness, kindness, and compassion.

Overall speaking, your perspective of life should be changed, and your awareness of yourself should be increased while improving your energy to live life.

Those who practice yoga will admit that they are filled with a sense of calmness and well-being, as well.

Main differences between yoga and stretching

Women Exercising

While a few stretches that you do in kickboxing or a fitness class ma his resemble yoga very closely, the fact is yoga and stretching are very different.

Yoga stretches your muscles; however, it also includes a lot of other things apart from basic stretching.

Body alignment

Yoga places lots of emphasis on the alignment of the body.

So fundamentally in yoga, how you touch your toes is perhaps the goal and not whether you can do it or not.

Your spine always needs to be erect, and you need to have balance and flexibility to execute certain poses quickly.


When you stretch, you don’t hold that position for very long, but in yoga, you need to hold it for approximately 20 -30 seconds.

In some types of yoga you need to hold your poses for minutes, thereby stretching the connective tissue around your joints.


Yoga helps you focus on your breathing; however, when stretching, you don’t have to hold your breath.


Some of the benefits of stretching are that it can prevent injury from a workout.

However, with yoga, you are stretching your muscles, opening up joints, and improving your core strength at the same time.

Yoga also offers you a feeling of deep relaxation.

5 Stretches that are also yoga poses

Woman Doing Dolphin Pose

Some yoga poses resemble stretches and vice versa.

Here are some of the poses that stretch the entire body but are actually yoga poses.

High lunge

The high lunge is one of those stretches that work out your muscles, the front of your hip, your arms and back muscles, as well as your hamstrings and hip flexors.

Dolphin pose

The dolphin pose as well works out your core while you are stretching your hamstrings and shoulders.

Plank pose

The plank pose is not just a stretching pose but also develops strength in your shoulders, core and quad muscles. Ultimately it involves you stretching your hamstrings.

Triangle pose

The triangle pose involves you stretching your spine, chest, hamstrings and ultimately this helps to send the thighs, back, and obliques.

Warrior III

The warrior III stretches your hip flexor and quads of your lifted leg. It also works by strengthening the glutes, legs, back, and shoulders as well.

Related Questions

Is Yoga actually stretching?

No, while stretching works out your body, your mind, spirit, and body must be present during your yoga sessions.

So stretching purely physical and yoga includes all aspects of your being.

Do you stretch in Yoga?

Yes, yoga poses involve a lot of stretching in various directions and using different muscle groups. However, yoga is much deeper than stretching.

Can you do yoga the same way you stretch?

No, while you can stretch when watching tv, you need a dedicated space, free from distractions when practicing yoga.

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