The other day a friend and I were chatting about our workouts. She recently lost a lot of weight… said pilates and running were her go-tos. Yoga, she said, doesn’t do anything for me. She made it clear that she wasn’t into the low-to-no-impact-stretchy-feely thing.
I then explained I don’t do yoga for what it does to my body–that’s secondary. I do yoga for what it does to my mind.
And with that, the conversation ended.
But not really because I’m still thinking about it.
I posted on why I go to yoga here. After a quick re-read I see that all my points still hold true, but as with all relationships or practices…things evolve.
Last year I decided to up my yoga practice to 2 or 3 times a week. And since I’ve made this commitment, something has definitely shifted within me.
I used to only seek out hearty vinyasa classes, the ones that flow fast, work all the muscle groups and let you break a sweat. While I still love a sweaty flow, it’s not the only kind of yoga I do. Like today, the class was actually quite slow. It was level 2 (not basics)– but the instructor stopped to explain the postures…a lot. She took her time in setting up the props, and getting us situated. In the past I would have been so pissed that she kept stopping. Wait, we’re supposed to just sit here and watch you?
But now I realize that the yoga doesn’t stop just because I’m not moving. It’s all part of my practice– flowing, sitting, watching, and just being there — like really being there with my mind and awareness.
I don’t go to yoga to put my foot behind my head, or hang out in handstand for days. I go to yoga to practice my ability to just be there.
So back to my friend who’s just not that into it…I totally get that. I understand the feeling of having limited time to exercise, and needing maximum physical results. (Spinning is great for this!) I have a regular fitness routine in addition to yoga so I don’t rely on the physical practice of yoga to get my body in shape. It’s more to get my mind in shape.
Yoga is a slow process. It takes a serious dedication to stay with it because the results are not obvious immediately.
But I can attest that it absolutely will do something…you just have to let it.
And if you’re still not convinced…check out my piece for Do You Yoga 6 Things Yogis Do To Look + Feel Awesome.
Yogi friends– please share why you go to yoga in the comments below.
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I’ve only ever been to one flow class, and I didn’t like it at all! I thought to myself, as we were racing through the postures, “I could do this at home!” You see, the reason why I go to a class is to be taught yoga. I can DO yoga at home, every day, but only in a class can I really deepen my understanding of a posture, push my limits of what I think I can do, and use the wisdom of the teacher to adjust, observe and advise. This can’t be done in a fast class. It’s interesting – the people who resist yoga are often the ones that need it the most – I had a similar conversation with a woman who is a marathon runner and sports woman. She is seriously fit. But she says she doesn’t like yoga because she’s so stiff and has so many injuries, that she finds it difficult and painful. Imagine how much a daily yoga practice would help her body!
Sara, thank you for clarifying the difference between doing yoga and going to yoga. And as far as resistance..I avoided the slower classes for a long time + that’s because it was what I needed most!
Elysha, I wanted to tell you that when I got up the other day, I had decided that I wouldn’t go to dance class–too long a drive, too many other things I “had to” do. Then I received the email notification of this wise post and realized after reading this that THE most important thing to do was to head to class. To really be “…there with my mind and awareness.” Dancing provides a very similar experience to yoga for me: awareness, presence, union. Thanks for the (gentle) kick in the pants! xoxo
Thank you for letting me know this, ST. I’m so happy my post gave you a (gentle) kick in the pants to get back to dance class. It is so important to show up…isn’t that more than half the battle? Thanks again, my dear friend. Your comments always make my day. xxoo
Off course we can shed kilos with yoga regime but I think this form of exercise is also wonderful for mental strength and fitness. Yoga can help you in understanding the actual connotation of the word ‘peace’. There is so much goodness concealed in yoga, I couldn’t agree more. Thanks for sharing wisdom 🙂
Peace, clarity and connection..yoga helps me get a much better understanding of these words. Thanks for sharing here, Samara!
Hi Elysha, it took me a minute but I read your insightful post; thank you for directing me here! The conversation with your friend that you mentioned is so familiar…I have had many similar conversations. My favorite line is, “I don’t do yoga; I’m too inflexible.” I am a beginner teacher primarily, and sometimes I have students show up because it’s the right time for them–and then I watch them squirm around when I start everyone off with relaxation, or when I lead students through breath work, or even gentle warm-ups to ease everyone into the practice while maintaining a safe space for the practice of self-awareness. I go to yoga because I want to awaken to who I am beyond my body. Knowing that my body will age and one day disappear, I practice non-attachment to my body, which means that I try to not get too attached to a certain pose or a certain way of feeling in the pose. When I’m on my mat breathing, I sometimes feel a rush of emotions–everything that I had been holding back because it wasn’t appropriate to yell or cry–I go to yoga so that I can tune back into the myriad forms of awareness that are always swirling within me, and to find some coherence between all those different forms. Finding stillness in body can lead to stillness in mind. Deep breathing can lead to deep release and deep peace. I also go to yoga for the community, the shared experience of moving and breathing together, walking this path of awakening together; I have experienced over and over again how my own practice is enhanced by the energy of the people around me. I go to yoga to come back home to my inherent wholeness, the realization that I don’t have to fix or change anything to be truly happy in this moment. I go to yoga because it’s fun to move my body into so many different forms. Because each practice is always different (even if the sequence of postures is the same, as in astanga yoga), there is an element of unpredictability, and this appeals to my creative side. I know it is good for my body, mind and spirit. This is why I go to yoga.
Lorien, Your comment resonates with me in so many ways. Like going to yoga because it is fun & creative to move the body in such different shapes. And to tune into the awareness swirling around inside…our body knows best and sometimes yoga is the only way I can access this. But I think when you say it’s coming back home to your inherent wholeness, I totally get that.. it’s the path to the true self. I really appreciate you coming by and sharing your insights. With such thoughtful articulation, you’ve shed light on some of the amazing reasons to go to yoga. Thank you.