Are yoga and stretching the same? If not, what are the differences? What are the advantages of each? Are there situations where yoga might be the best option, and are there situations where stretching might be the best option?
There are branches of yoga with focus on different things. If we're going with the static, more relaxed yoga poses (see: yin yoga), then we're doing a lot of seated and laid down stretching.
But then yoga adds some key elements, that sets it apart from just stretching. One of those elements is breath work. By focusing on deep, paced breathing, a lot of people (and to my surprise, I myself) experience deeper stretch, and a relief from the pain that is normally involved with going a bit deeper into a stretch.
Static yoga poses
Another element is meditation. Under the right circumstance, easing into a relaxed stretch in a silent and dark environment, can be conducive to a mental state where you either let your mind wander, or you focus on trying to "push" thoughts away in order to enjoy a sort of mental silence.
Meditation: Letting the mind wander
Personally, I like the meditation aspect of letting my mind wander. After a whole day of almost constant stimulus from social niceties, work, computer/phone screens etc, it's nice to give your mind a moment to just sort the experiences into memory. I've found that it really helps me fall asleep in the evening, because one of the things that keep us awake in bed, is having your brain sort through a whole day of experiences while you're trying to sleep. It can be really "loud" in its own right.
Meditation: Silent mind
I don't have any personal experience here, but from what I've learned, focusing solely on your breath while meditating can have a more immediate relaxing effect, more along the lines of a nap. In this practice, you will inevitably feel your mind start to glaze over some thoughts, but you actively try to push said thoughts away, and focus back on your breath.
Dynamic yoga poses
Often referred to as "yang yoga". Here, I don't have much experience. But this involves more dynamic movements as well as standing poses. One of the benefits of this is an improvement in balance. Breath work is still an integral part here, and anecdotally, I've heard that people see an improvement in everyday movement, by learning to move in ways that are more balanced and less energy intensive.
Are there situations where yoga might be the best option, and are there situations where stretching might be the best option?
Stretching for its own benefits is something you can throw in anytime, anywhere. It doesn't require any particular focus, and can be initiated at the drop of a dime. And the physiological benefits of stretching speak for themselves.
Yoga will give you the same physiological benefits as stretching, with the addition of some other benefits as discussed above, but at the cost of requiring a bit of concentration, and perhaps a more quiet location than you may have at your disposal.
As is often the case, it's not really a case of one being better than the other. You have some tools at your disposal, and with a bit of reflection, you pick the tool you need there and then.
Similarities Between the Two To understand the reason for the belief that stretching and yoga are virtually the same, let’s look at how they are similar. Both relieve tightness in muscles. Both can engage the entire body. They can have some of the same goals.
Stretching involves holding a position. You work on lengthening the muscle until you are stretching to the maximum. You push your body to the point just before it becomes uncomfortable, often leading to a release in tension.
A yoga workout, on the other hand, is made up of many poses. Some of these are similar (or even the same) as stretches, but a large number are quite distinct.
Furthermore, a yoga workout can be in the form of a flow, moving from one pose to another. Sometimes you hold a pose for several breaths, sometimes you change from one to another quite rapidly. This means that, although yoga can be relaxing, in other cases it can cause your heart rate to rise. Power yoga and strength-building workouts are good examples of this.
Not able to say both are same, but we can able to come conclusion after reading below lines.
History of Yoga 🧘♀️ is taken from animal stretching _which is done by animals to recover energy and healing and refresh by its birth
our Yogis watch their activities and check and compare with human body activity then they filtered and then they give YOGA as an Extractions of 1000 years of Knowledge
So my friend when you are stretching your body it maybe reduces your energy or some other, but I am sure when you do yoga it must give you energy and mind control and full of a positive attitude.