Daily Yoga or a Daily Stretching Routine?

by Self-Care Tips

If you are reading this, I gather that you are wondering what the benefits of daily stretching can really be. I chose to title this blog Daily Yoga OR Daily Stretching because they are not really the same thing, though people like me often conflated the two.
Let’s start with definitions. Bear with me here. I want you to read these because they did change my mindset a bit.
Yoga: A group of physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines which originated in ancient India (Wikipedia). In my experience with yoga, it is a practice and a combination of the mental and physical. It sometimes does not even require deep stretching. Sometimes, it is movement based (aka “flow” in yoga terms) or it is balance/posture based (aka “Hatha” yoga). I have done classes where I meditated more than stretched! In summary, I call yoga the “mind-body connection” activity.
Some pretty nifty yoga tools:

Stretching: A form of physical exercise in which a specific muscle or tendon is deliberately flexed or stretched in order to improve the muscle’s felt elasticity and achieve comfortable muscle tone. The result is a feeling of increased muscle control, flexibility, and range of motion (Wikipedia). In my studies with the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), flexibility is its own pillar in the program! It is important to improve (1) dynamic range of motion (combination of flexibility and the nervous system’s ability to control this range of motion efficiently) and (2) improve neuromuscular efficiency (The ability of the neuromuscular system to allow agonists, antagonists, and stabilizers to work synergistically to produce, reduce, and dynamically stabilize the entire kinetic chain in all three planes of motion). (Citation: NASM ESSENTIALS OF PERSONAL FITNESS TRAINING)

There are different forms of stretching on a continuum with NASM, but the two I will hone in on are:

  • Self-Myofascial Release (SMR): Using a foam roller like the one linked HERE. For the purposes of this blog, I will not dive into SMR. The reason I wont dive into it is because there is contradictory information on its pros and cons. Some say it hurts more than helps, others say it helps more than hurts. I just wanted to name it because a lot of people do it. I do not foam roll!
  • Static Stretching: What you think about when you stretch in gym class… standing statically and stretching a muscle (take muscle to point of tension and hold). This is the type of stretching I do almost daily!


Additionally, another fun fact is that the recommended time to hold a stretch or hold the SMR roller is at least 30 seconds. This was a huge erroneous belief of mine. I thought I had to hold every stretch I wanted to do for 3 minutes each! This would lead me to be uncomfortable for really long periods of time AND to get bored. I was told so many times that to actually stretch you need to hold it for a long time to relax the muscles.  That is not a false statement. However, the choice on how long to hold a stretch comes down to my favorite thing to do which is to ask myself a question: What is the REASON or GOAL for this stretch? I will get to that soon. 


I tell you these definitions because daily stretching DOES NOT HAVE TO BE YOGA. Let me say that again. For anyone who is looking purely for stretching, you could just… stretch. However, if you are looking for a practice that combines stretching with flow, flexibility, posture, balance, and mindset, yoga would be your way to go.  

This realization is important if you are the impatient, hustle bustle type that does not like to waste time. I forced myself for months to try and do daily yoga when in reality all that I wanted was hamstring stretching. Now, I do daily SOMETHING and it is not always yoga and not always stretching. I choose one or the other each day.

With this knowledge in your back pocket, I am now going to talk through three lines of questioning to help steer your journey.

  1. Is your goal to become a dancer and be limber AF? For me this is a NO. 
  2. Is your goal to feel more comfortable each day, less creaky, and able to run longer distances on your knee? For me this is a YES.
  3. Do you want to add in more exercise focused on movement, core, and stability rather than lifting weight? For me this is a NO.


Conclusion: Should I do yoga or stretching or both? For starters, *if you answered yes to one, I cannot help you* If you answered yes to two, and no to three – then you are like me and would benefit from the SMR and Static Stretching elements more than yoga. If you answered yes to two and three, then you would benefit from a little bit of both yoga and stretching. If you answered yes to three, then yoga is your way to go. 

Now, I will describe both routines to help flesh this out more if you are in the decision-making process.

How to Daily Yoga and Not Hate It

    • Pick a person who meshes well with you and follow them on social media.
      • For example, do you enjoy quirky, dorky humor and puppies? Yoga with Adriene may be right up your alley.
      • Do you enjoy quick routines and affirmations? Yoga with Kassandra is your winning ticket.
        • Pros: She gets right to it. She will say three words and dive in. She also has a whole boat load of 10 minute morning meditations, and she kicks each one off reminding you to say an affirmation OR she gives you an affirmation to say. I love her 30-day morning yoga journey videos. I did all 30. All were awesome. 
        • Cons: She is slightly robotic – she can feel a little less personable than Adriene. 
        • Favorite Videos on YouTube:
    • Save videos you really like. This tip is key because you will not like all yoga videos. Some will really annoy you. Then, you will be angry all day that you had a bad start.
    • Do it first thing in the morning, BEFORE COFFEE. That’s right. Walk down the stairs and get to it. I meditate then do yoga. Then I drink coffee. Coffee is my reward for the yoga.
    • Note: You can do this at night, but I find that yoga at night is too difficult for me to keep up. I do not have a TV in my room that works with YouTube, and then I try to use my phone, and it is not relaxing. I also find yoga at night energizes me versus makes me sleepy.  
  • Benefits of Daily Yoga: There is a super cool blog you can checkout HERE. The summary of the blog is that yoga helps with increasing flexibility, feeling good, improving strength, boosting immune system, improving focus, giving you “me time,” helping you breathe, helping your posture, and improving mindset.

See how this combines elements of stretching WITH mindset?  

If you fall in the daily stretch, not yoga camp, then stretching does not have to be an exercise in hold it as long as you can. It can be a series of SMR, short, 30 second stretches, and you are on your way. This can be done on your own or with a partner. This can also be done with videos!

How to Stretch Every Day Like a Boss

    • Do this right before bed. This is different from yoga because it may not be affirmation based or movement based. This might just be some stretches lying on the floor. You will feel nice and relaxed, loosey goosey, and zen. 
    • Pair stretching with some music you love. This really makes it more of a relaxation thing and less of a “I have to do this thing.”
    • Follow the stretching up with a sleep meditation to really help you relax. 
    • Put a reminder on your end table that says “DON’T FORGET TO STRETCH.”
    • If you need a guide, I suggest: MadFit
    • I will also be posting a video blog soon of my doing my short stretching routine. Be on the lookout for that! 
  • Benefits of Daily Stretching: There is a great blog on this too found HERE. The summary is: improving posture, improving range of motion, preventing loss of range of motion, decreasing back pain, preventing injury, and decreasing muscle soreness.

Notice how this is very tactical – for example, this will help you stop having back pain is a benefit!

So in summary: Can yoga and stretching be one in the same? Absolutely. However, check-in with your goals. Do you want to do something every day that channels your mind and body connection? Do you want to begin a practice of balance? Do you want something to energize me or relax me? Do you just simply want to have less lower back pain?

No answer is wrong or right. The problem is when you try to get too stuck in HAVING TO DO something. The problem is also when you force yourself to do stuff you just do not like. Stick with what feels good and feels right FOR YOU AND ONLY YOU. I think daily stretching or yoga can have huge benefits for anyone, I just do not think one choice is the end all be all for everyone.

 Comment below with your stretching or yoga preference! 


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Burnout Coach Kat Kiseli

Hi, I’m Kat

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