Kinstretch vs. Yoga: Which one should you be doing?

In our previous blog post, we announced the launch of our regeneration suite here at Halevy Life. Kinstretch is one of our three new offerings, with Vital Yoga and Nutrition rounding out the trifecta.

The goal of our regeneration suite is to help you achieve resiliency in the gym and outside of it, through the process of regeneration. Let’s face it, the stresses of daily life, intense workouts, and even the battering we often taken internally from dietary and lifestyle habits take their toll. Our new regeneration suite is meant to help keep these stressors in check, and also to enhance the quality of your life, both in the gym and outside of it.

We’re looking forward to our first Kinstretch class this Saturday the 29th, and at this point in time would also like to announce that we are launching Vital Yoga on Monday the 31st at 7:30am! As with Kinstretch, this first Vital Yoga class is 100% complimentary. Just make sure to sign up here now to get in:

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Now that we’re offering both Kinstretch and yoga here at Halevy Life, you might begin to wonder…which one should you be doing? and which one is better? Now’s as good a time as ever to answer those questions and discuss why they are different.

In our first blog about Kinstretch and the FRC system below, we emphasized that Kinstretch is not yoga.  Although they look very similar at first glance, they are two completely different systems. Despite this, they actually support each other very well.

Why You Should Flex #everydamnday for Mobility Gains

Perhaps the biggest difference between Kinstretch and yoga can be found internally: it is what is occurring on a neurological level.  But before we go too far down the proverbial rabbit hole, it would be wise to first go over the basics of the nervous system. Prepare for a quick lesson in neuroscience.

The Nervous System

The nervous system can be broadly divided into two parts. They include the central nervous system, which consists of the brain and the spinal cord, and the peripheral nervous system, which consists of the nerves and ganglia outside of the central nervous system.

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Courtesy of studyblue.com

The peripheral nervous system can be further broken down into two parts. They include the autonomic nervous system, which controls the involuntary actions of the body (such as breathing and heart rate), and the somatic nervous system, which controls voluntary actions of the body (such as muscle contraction during training).

The autonomic nervous system (ANS) is the focus of our discussion today. The ANS is made up of the two main branches, the sympathetic (SNS) and parasympathetic nervous systems (PNS).  The SNS is best thought of as the “fight or flight” system.  For instance, if a lion were to suddenly start chasing you down the streets of Manhattan, your SNS would be firing on all cylinders to make sure you get as far away from that lion as quickly as possible. That is, unless you have supreme confidence in yourself, and your hypothalamus decides the best way out of the situation is to actually fight the lion…

The PNS, on the other hand, is best thought of as the “rest and digest” system.  Think of those lazy fall Sundays relaxing on the couch watching football. (Unless you’re a Jets fan these days, then you’re most certainly in a sympathetic “fight or flight” state.)

In either case, keep in mind that in both sympathetic or parasympathetic scenarios, there is a certain degree of involuntary actions that take place in your body and effectively keep you living. It’s important to note that these two branches of the ANS do not always operate independently.  Often times they work on different levels simultaneously. With this background information now, it’s much easier to understand the main differences between Kinstretch and yoga.

What This All Means

If you’ve read the previous blog posts on FRC and Kinstretch, and have even started trying to implement these disciplines into your training, you already know that this stuff is NOT easy. It is hard, and it is hard because it needs to be. To increase USABLE ranges of motion, one of the key components to do so is effort. Let’s not soon forget how red I got during the Quadruped Hip Abduction Lift-off below.

A video posted by Halevy Life (@halevylife) on

The ability to irradiate or create tension is one of the pillars of proper FRC execution.  Without doing so, it is much much harder to properly isolate the joints we are trying to increase our range of motion through.

For starters, the process of creating tension already heightens sympathetic “fight or flight” activity. Add to that PAIL’s/ RAIL’s, Passive Range Holds, and everything else that falls under the FRC umbrella, and it’s not hard to see that Kinstretch is very fight or flight. We are often asking groups of muscles to produce maximal voluntary contractions repeatedly for up to 10 second holds. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to contract as much as we could, and therefore wouldn’t be gaining and strengthening our ranges of motion.  In turn, this puts an immense amount of fatigue on the central nervous system (CNS).

It’s important to note that this does not mean that Kinstretch is purely sympathetic. Isometric Ramping and Maximal Expansive Breathing are two techniques we use in Kinstretch too that fall more in the parasympathetic realm.  Overall though, Kinstretch is restorative from a long-term perspective. You are restoring motion and function to your joints to allow them to work the way they are meant to. While you are in class though, the short-term struggle is necessary.

36When most people think of yoga, they often think of the flexibility that those who have been practicing for years are able to display.  However, for most people, perhaps the most beneficial aspect of yoga is the emphasis on breathing.  In Kinstretch, there are times during which you may forget to breath or are focused on taking short, shallow breaths to maintain tension.  In yoga, this is quite the opposite. We are actually asked to breathe THROUGH movement.  The most important facet of this is the exhalation.

When you exhale, you are activating your PNS, and putting yourself in a more relaxed state. This promotes recovery.  When you inhale, you are doing the opposite. Broadly, this explains why so many people feel stressed.  They spend so much time on the go, that they never take a break and forget to exhale fully!  It’s why so many people feel a sense of relaxation after going through a yoga class.  They are breathing through movements instead of tensing up through them. Couple that with practices of meditation, and the result is a heightened state of relaxation and increased parasympathetic “rest and digest” tone.

Summing it All Up

So how these two disciplines tie together? The answer is pretty simple.  Kinstretch will help you become better at yoga because you will gain more awareness of your body and control over your ranges of motion.  Personally, my biggest gripe with yoga is that people performing it are only gaining passive flexibility, and being forced into positions using gravity, as opposed to really owning those positions with control.  But with continuous practice of Kinstretch, one can control themselves through the various yoga positions and essentially do them better.

Yoga on the other hand, supplements Kinstretch as well as it supplements any other type of intense training, by allowing you to get into a more parasympathetic state and focus on recovery.  So when someone asks which one is better, and which one should they be doing, the real answer is that both have a place in your training, because their stark differences actually complement each other very well.

Hopefully, today’s post provides you with some major insights into Kinstretch, yoga, how they differ, and why both are big rocks in our regeneration suite. Be sure to sign up for Vital Yoga on Halloween morning, and we hope to see you there!

by Dan Cerone

Dan Cerone

ceroneDan Cerone is the Director of Programming at Halevy Life.

Dan holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Clinical Exercise Science and a Master’s Degree in Human Performance, which were both completed at Ithaca College. In addition, Dan is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and Functional Movement Screen Specialist (FMS).

Prior to joining the team at Halevy Life, Dan completed a coaching internship at one of the country’s premiere strength and conditioning facilities where he worked with a wide variety of athletes, but mainly professional and collegiate hockey players. More recently, Dan worked as a Strength and Conditioning Coach at Ithaca College where he programmed and worked with numerous varsity teams.

Dan is a competitive powerlifter who has placed first in multiple competitions.