Yoga – Exercise or Not Enough?

Photo by "Mike" Michael L. Baird, &

Since I’ve been in yoga teacher training, I have spent a lot more time thinking about my practice.  Mostly, the thinking involves how to get closer to the union that yoga is based upon – how to “reach” (in quotes because we are all already there – we just have to be there) that place where I can more fully experience the divine. Once in a while, however, I start thinking about what brought me to yoga in the first place – exercise.

When I first started yoga, I did it as a way to seek out a form of exercise that felt good to my non-athletic self, rather than feeling like punishment.  I had only ever worked out to lose weight or maintain weight, and I wanted to find something I could do that would make my body healthier and that I would enjoy enough to keep doing.  Yoga fit the bill.  But, there are times when I wonder if it is “enough” exercise (note that the image to the left is NOT me).

In some instances, I know exactly where this comes from.  I get on the scale and see a number that I don’t like (this happened today – really? how can that number be there? did I not do10 days of juice fasting this month?  WTF?).  Sometimes it comes from reading blogs or articles about amazing athletes (like my friend Maria at   Sometimes, I think it’s because I’m angry with my body for being uncooperative and maybe I want to punish it a little more.  And then there are times when I don’t know where it comes from, but there it is.

My response to these musings can be anything from dismissal (Uh huh! Yoga is exercise – how many people can do that many vinyasas in 90 minutes?), to promises that I’ll do something else (Hey, Maria, I think after I finish teacher training I might start running too), to channeling it into self-castigation over what I’ve eaten or how I look.  But, sometimes, I can pull myself back to remembering what yoga brings to me besides/beyond the physical conditioning and how much I love it and how I would have to give some of it up to do something else and I just don’t want to do that.

Of course, the irony of some of this is that, before I started doing yoga, I wasn’t really exercising at all – beyond just being a mom.  I probably weighed about what I weigh now, or a little more, but  had not a muscle on me.  And at that time, I didn’t really fret about how much exercise was enough much at all.  Had I not had a doctor who pestered me about starting something more formal every time I saw him, I don’t know when I would have gotten it going.  Now I’m doing much more (vinyasa yoga 5-6 days a week and yin 2 days) and still fretting.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this rambling. I suppose I should have thought that out before I started the post.  Do you exercise for the love of it or because you feel you should?  What is your chosen form?  Why?  How do you decide how much is enough?



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