When we do any kind of exercise and keep progressing in it, we get better and better at doing that particular exercise, and of course some associated skills. For example, playing basketball improves fitness and coordination, as well as concentration and team skills.
In the same way, one could say that yoga also gives similar benefits: some asanas facilitate balance, others develop isometric strength, and so on.
However, when we look at yoga in its full scope, not only its physical component or even the whole system of hatha yoga, we will find that it provides us with a complete way of life, taking care of and streamlining every facet of it. In this way, it becomes a kind of basis, a foundation, that will support any effort we may be doing – including exercise – and goals we may be striving to achieve, whether personal, social, professional, or spiritual.
When we look at even the most physical part of yoga, asana, in its classical form, it defies all definitions of exercise: a devoted hatha yogi will aspire, as an example, to hold a headstand for one to three hours or more as an energy modifying and meditative practice – hardly a balanced “set” that works on this or that muscle group.
Yoga is one of the six major branches of Indian philosophy existing since the ancient times, and the only one of them that is practical rather than theoretical and esoteric.
However, the physical practices that we most identify it with today were added to it relatively recently, always as a temporary support to achieve the ultimate goal of yoga, namely, the complete transcendence of mundane awareness and its merger with its source and origin, universal or cosmic consciousness.
This goal may be quite high, impractical for most people, and hard to attain – but on the path toward it lies a wonderful journey of self-discovery and realisation, a journey where inner strength and creativity are continually rediscovered and nurtured, so that we become the best possible version of ourselves, through our own efforts and therefore genuinely.
This makes yoga far more than just exercise, or even a spiritual path: as Sri Krishna explains in the Bhagavad Gita, a life in the spirit of yoga leads to the ultimate fulfilment of our existence here on Earth, whatever path we may be walking on.
For yoga to have such a broad scope of action and be really applicable to everyone, it needs to be seen in its proper light, full scope, and context. A suitable combination of its main components, dealing with all the different layers of our being, needs to be considered and included in our daily practice routines.
This may sound a little complicated, but it can be done very easily and gradually. To see how, why not try join our network for a couple of days? It will allow you to explore this and more subjects in more depth, and most importantly, practically through classes and courses you can try for free.