#78: Why Yoga is More Than Just Exercise

May 11, 2023 | Podcast, Yoga

Yoga is not just what happens on the mat in a gym, but yoga is meant to be a life journey.

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Yoga is a practice that has gained popularity over the years, with many people turning to it for its physical benefits such as flexibility and strength-building.


And it’s often one of the first elements that draws people in to beginning to understand and transform themselves. They come to yoga seeking to touch their toes or because attending a group class is the only way they intentionally make space to slow down a little in life, even if it’s just for an hour once a week, but in the process of showing up consistently on their mat, they end up changing their lives.


In this episode, learn:

  1. What yoga is
  2. Three themes as to why yoga is more than just exercise
  3. How to use the practice to begin to flow with life even when life doesn’t go as you expect it to


What {Hatha} Yoga Really is

At its core, yoga is movement to modify consciousness. This can take many forms, but the most common type of yoga is movement yoga, also known as Hatha yoga. It incorporates movement, breath, focus or concentration, and meditation to not only change consciousness but also one’s energetic state. The word yoga means “union,” which signifies the interconnectedness of all things, including the body, mind, and spirit.


3 Themes that Make Yoga Different from Exercise

1. Holistic


While physical benefits such as flexibility and strength-building may be byproducts of practicing yoga, yoga impacts you on a deeper level than just the physical–it’s also changing you mentally, emotionally and physically.


Yoga says that your mind and body are one and not separate, as we are often led to believe. So what happens in one is a direct reflection of the other. The mind-body connection is great in all forms of exercise, but in yoga, you are intentionally focusing on changing the fascia within your body which houses the small hurts and traumas that we’ve experienced over our lives. It also houses the receptors that make us adaptable and emotional. The focus in yoga is more than just building muscular strength or endurance.


On an emotional level, yoga can aid in healing past hurts, balancing your nervous system, and providing stress reduction & relaxation through mindfulness practices & breathwork.


Yoga also helps you connect with your higher purpose and voice of your inner guidance, making personal growth and transformation more likely.


2. Life Journey

Just like exercise, you may begin to shape your life around the practice, but more in a spiritual context or as a spritual practice. You may begin to make life decisions based on how it will impact the outcome you’ll get when you step on your yoga mat.  And when you do this, it ultimately impacts all those other elements that yoga affects…your body, mind, spirit and energy.  Not just your physical.

Yoga is a practice, it’s not performance – no one is handing out gold stars or trophies for the best yoga session because you can’t judge personal growth and transformation.

It challenges you to set expectations aside – your body will respond differently day-to-day, so you can’t expect it to be able to do the same thing each day in the exact same way.

And finally, it is non-competitive. 

There is no end date or goal (unless you count your death as the end date).  You can seek to become a truly enlightened individual, but then you likely aren’t truly living and fulling enjoying the fullness of life here on this planet.

The growth that happens on your mat can’t necessarily be measured like it can in the gym. You can indeed become stronger or more flexible or improve your balance, but at the same time you’re also cultivating those qualities in your personality. And there’s just no end to much you can refine yourself. I believe we are always changing and evolving, as long as we are open to it, and that could be up until the day you die.

You can’t set a deadline on self development like you can on being prepared for a race or competition. Or even for how many push-ups you can do.


3. Adaptable

Anyone can practice yoga and anywhere. Can be modified throughout the years to adapt to your own unique needs.  And yoga encompasses many different forms and techniques – meditation, breathwork, and different styles of yoga – which can be changed and adapted over the course of a lifetime depending on your needs.


How to Use the Practice to Flow

To FLOW means going with life rather than against it; accepting and surrendering when necessary balanced with preparation and taking appropriate action. It’s when there is a balanced energy of effortless action and trust or acceptance when moving through something.

Consistency in practicing yoga is key to experiencing the deeper benefits of the practice, which include spiritual upleveling and transformation. This can happen gradually over time, as one becomes more intentional in their practice and begins to realize the interconnectedness of all things.

Yoga is the connection of mind, body and spirit through movement that alters consciousness. It’s a holistic approach to a life journey that can adapt to whatever season of life you are in. Yoga has a rhythm that translates to flow both on and off the mat; you just have to start practicing it as a way of living and commit to bringing some sort of consistency to practicing it.


Ultimately, the practice of yoga is about much more than just exercise. It offers a pathway to deeper connection and understanding of yourself and the world around you. By embracing the interconnectedness of all things, you can learn to flow with life, even when it doesn’t go as expected.


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