More Than Stretching

I’ve been following the debate on stretching that’s detailed in Gina Kolata’s latest piece for the New York Times. The science on this is contradictory and the studies are few and far between; what has been done has little real-world applicability. It’s a question that deserves a lot more attention: does stretching aid or detract from athletic performance?

My quibble with the article is that the sources quoted—and the article itself, implicitly—all equate yoga and stretching. But yoga is much, much more than just stretching, even in its most physically-oriented Western manifestations. If stretching is done without attention to the breath, to taking each pose to a personally appropriate level (and yes, going too far certainly can lead to hypermobility or injury), to keeping the attention focused in the present moment—that’s not yoga, it’s just stretching, and it may be of little value. But a real yoga practice can happen in the absence of any physical stretching. It can happen during your run, your ride, your swim. Kolata’s friend doesn’t need to see the two practices of yoga and training as mutually exclusive!
Now I’m fired up, and I wish I could comment on the article at the Times Web site, but comments are closed. Guess I’d better go do some yoga (no stretching required).