How Is Yoga Different from Stretching?

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How Is Yoga Different from Stretching?

You may think of yoga as a stretching exercise. After all, that's what the yoga poses seem designed to do. But then you hear people who take yoga classes talk about it as something much more than just stretching, something that can bring peace, balance, and change to your life. If you wonder how poses that stretch your muscles can do all of this, read on to learn what makes yoga so special. It is a deceptively simple practice, one that is much more than just a matter of stretching.

Awareness of the Breath Brings Clarity

The poses are only the external part of yoga. Being aware of your breath is also a major component. When you do the poses, you are supposed to breathe in a certain way, and to keep your awareness fixed on your breath and the way the air moves in and out of your body. This is the basis of many forms of meditation. As you do yoga, focusing your mind on your body this way, your mind clears and you start to move toward spiritual balance.

Yogic Motivation Leads to Growth

Yoga also encourages personal growth by teaching you to act from the right motivations. It can be tempting to obsess over how your yoga poses look, especially if you are doing them in a yoga class with other people. Doing yoga properly requires you to pay no attention to the way you look, and to think instead of the spirit in which you perform each pose. This approach helps free you from your ego, which will do wonders for your growth as a person and your ability to handle stress in your day to day life.

Regular Practice Develops Focus

Most people are constantly distracted by their fears, doubts, worries, and hopes. This distraction saps your mental energy and leaves you without focus. In yoga, your mind is clear and focused on your breath and your pose, so it can clear away the mental detritus. Over time, this helps you build up the mental habit of clearing and focusing your mind. This clarity and focus will be a benefit to you in all of the parts of your life.

Yoga Requires More

Yoga requires a higher level of skill to practice than stretching does. When you start a yoga practice you are starting on a course of physical, mental, and spiritual development. Additionally, yoga requires more in the way of equipment than stretching does. To practice yoga you will need at least a yoga mat, if not also yoga blocks, straps, and blankets.

The Takeaway

Yoga is more than mere stretching. It develops and balances your mind, body, and spirit. If you are looking to get the most out of your time and effort, yoga is the way to go.

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