A question of intention — stretching or yoga

New York Times To Stretch or Not to Stretch? The Answer Is Elastic has an intriguing monologue about whether an athlete can get anything out of practicing yoga.

They’re (athletes) like one of my running partners, Claire Brown, a 35-year-old triathlete.

“I always feel like, well, athletes should do yoga,” Claire said. “It’s supposed to be really good for running, and when I do it regularly, it does loosen up my hips and make me feel better for running.”

Yet she puts off going to yoga.

“It shouldn’t feel like an obligation, but it always does,” Claire said. “The good classes are often an hour and a half long, and I’m thinking: ‘I could be running, I could be biking. But here I am, stretching and breathing.’

“Isn’t it funny, though, that something that should be calming can actually cause stress because you think you have to do it?”

The crux of the article is about the lack of scientific evidence about the value of stretching in preventing injury — and in many people’s minds, yoga is synonymous with stretching. Claire obviously attacks yoga with the same vigor as she applies to her sports conditioning. If she’s really after stretching, she would be better off just putting together a routine of exercises that address that need and cut out all the extraneous material that makes yoga more than an Eastern equivalent of calisthenics.