What is the difference between yoga and stretching?

Oct 29, 2008

The benefits of yoga for athletes

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When you think of stretching, most of the time, it’s jerky and forced movement, right? But when you think of yoga, it’s slow and controlled. I’m sure you have all seen runners grab their ankles and jerk their leg back and bounce it up and down.  When I see that, I want to tackle the person and say “Please stop, you are going to hurt yourself!” but I guess that probably wouldn’t go over very well?

In old-school stretching you are trying to force your body to do something it’s not ready to do. In yoga there is a lot more body awareness and attention to alignment—you NEVER want to force yourself into a pose. Athletes are competitive, wanting to touch their toes “NOW!” That’s one reason they get injured: they are trying to make their body do something it’s not ready to do.





Yoga also has a body-mind connection that you don’t find in stretching. The constant focus on the breath and the development of breath awareness will eventually give you greater body control, which is necessary in the participation of all sports. The breathing work in yoga will enhance your ability to carry oxygen to your muscles when you participate in sports. This translates into quicker reactions to unexpected situations encountered in running, like being chased by a pit bull or accidentally stepping into a pot hole. Unfortunately I’ve experienced both.





So instead of just stretching, try a little yoga.

For more, see my previous entry, The 5 Best Yoga Poses for Athletes.





Benefits of Yoga



:
1. Injury Prevention

2. Better Performance
3. Flexibility (Range of Motion)


4. Lung Capacity (Easier to Breathe)


5. Mental Focus


6. Longevity


7. Endurance
8. Strength









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