Is there a difference between yoga and flexibility?
They’re so similar, but really not the same.
People often mistake me for being a yoga teacher. When I make a post on Instagram or Tiktok, many people assume I must do a ton of yoga. But in actuality, I practice only yoga a few times a month; it is stretching and flexibility training I do on a regular basis.
Yoga is rooted in Hinduism and is a spiritual discipline that focuses on combining the mind and body as one. Flexibility training is purposefully stretching and strengthening muscles so the surrounding joints can efficiently move through a full ROM (range of motion).
Yoga doesn’t ask you to create goals of flexibility progress, it is asking you to cultivate discernment, awareness, and self-regulation through the harmony of body and mind. As a way to promote yoga to the Western audience, you often see people on Instagram promoting their yoga classes with a photo of them in some super flexible pose, which can be misleading for many, especially since genetics does play a factor in our flexibility! While you get the benefits of stretching and flexibility in yoga, it’s not the sole purpose of doing yoga.
There’s actually been an ongoing conversation about the cultural appropriation in yoga (and the wellness industry as a whole), specifically when yoga instructors put only focus on asana (the physical poses in yoga) and not any of the “spiritual stuff”, leaving behind the roots of this South Asian practice but still using the now hollow title.
For me personally, these are just a few of the reasons why I don’t claim to teach yoga. Many stretches I teach do have roots in yoga, and you’ll often hear me use the names of what the poses are called in yoga. With my flexibility classes, there is a goal to find a smooth and full ROM within our joints. We focus on strengthening and lengthening our muscles and fascia, finding body awareness within ourselves, and lowering our risk of injury.
I think both are great, depending on what you want out of it. So whether you just want to do one, or both, remember both are equally beneficial, just in different ways.