From the first fragrant wafts of incense to the last chime of savasana, yoga stubbornly defends the experience of its practitioners. No sweaty gym is an ideal space to do yoga, no; the calmer and more beautiful the space, the better. Yoga is something to soak up through all the senses, not something to pump out and be done with until the next day. Doing yoga makes your body and mind healthier, sure, but doing of yoga is also the result of yoga. The doing is the result. The journey is the destination.
2. Yoga is a challenge.
Yoga ain’t easy folks. The kind of vigorous yoga I enjoy, where I sweat and come up the edge of my capabilities; that shit ain’t easy. I can’t read a “Life & Style” whilst doing yoga like I can on the comparatively easy elliptical machine. And yoga has so many levels and so many choices, that if you are looking to yoga as a fitness program, you can find a challenge, whatever you abilities.
3. Yoga is comprehensive.
Despite what science has yet officially proven, I know that yoga stretches AND strengthens my muscles, and that it works my cardiovascular system. It works almost every muscles in my body. It challenges me in balance, breath control, isometric holds, and stabilization. No other activity can come close to the comprehensive way yoga works your body.
4. Yoga is for life.
There are 8 Limbs of Yoga, and only one of them is pose (or asana, or exercise). There is so much spiritual and mental territory to explore in yoga, that it can be a practice that grows with you your entire life. Plus, chair yoga and gentle yoga can always be an option for those of decreased physical abilities. Unlike running, or sweating it out at the gym, yoga truly is something that can be with you forever.
5. You don’t have to pump yourself up to do yoga.
You don’t have to be at your highest physical and mental potential to walk into a yoga class. You can be beaten, broken, sad, and weak and still show up. I’ve spent at least one class of my life completely in savasana when I could not muster the mental strength to drag myself up. This eliminates the dread of exercise. If you truly can’t, you can’t, and that’s okay: maybe next time you can do a little, and next time a little more.
6. You don’t need any special equipment to do yoga.
7. Yoga involves the mind.
Unlike the absolute tedium of counting out sets, or running on treadmills to nowhere, yoga engages the mind. It asks you to stay present with what you need in the moment and to stay present with what is truly happening. Because yoga engages my mind, I can sweat through a 1.5 hour asana class with pleasure, whilst a 2o minute weight-lifting session drags on forever.