As we all know that ‘In a healthy body lives a healthy mind, emotions & energy’. And to keep yourself healthy & pleasant, yoga & exercise plays a vital role. These two are closely interrelated to each other. Till now we have looked at the various aspects of Yoga and Its impact on our lives. It’s now time to know the relationship between yoga and exercise. We will understand how these two things are reasonably different but still inseparable from each other.
What is an Exercise?: Let us look at the most simplistic definition of an exercise. An exercise is a series of rapid bodily/physical movements in a particular way which is intended to bring about the physical fitness and wellness for ourselves. Exercise can be defined in many different ways. There are different kinds of exercises which a person can do depending on the kind of outcomes s/he is looking for. For e.g If you want a good looking muscular body, then there would be a certain series of exercises, If you just need general fitness or a weight loss then there would be a different set of exercises. There are many health benefits of exercise. It strengthens your physical body, It helps you tone your muscles, It also impacts positively on your different body systems like respiratory system, cardiovascular system, digestive system, circulatory system & endocrine system. Exercise helps a person fighting against diseases like heart disease, obesity, asthma, depression, cancer etc. Exercise also improves our immune system so that our body and its various systems are better equipped to fight against any external viral attacks.
Yoga & Asanas: We have already looked upon the yoga asanas deep enough in our previous articles. Asana is any posture which is comfortable for a person to hold. These are the tools using which we can consciously manipulate our life energies to create health, blissfulness & joy. Yoga Asanas play a significant role in bringing about a transformation at the level of body, mind, emotions & energies.
Difference between Yoga & Exercise: For most of the people who are not aware of yoga, the exercise and yoga are synonymous. But there is a significant difference between these two. When we say exercise, we are generally talking about the rapid bodily movements and the way we breathe at that point of time is not taken into consideration. Contrary to yoga, which always happens consciously. When we say consciously, It means that there is a coordination between the way you move your body and the way you breathe. Hence yoga asana is a perfectly coordinated exercise between the body movement and your breathing process. Also, the yoga asanas are always done in a rhythmic way with a proper flow. While you are doing any asana, you are completely aware of your breathing process. Being aware of breathing means, you know when to inhale and when to exhale & paying full attention to it. For e.g let’s say you are standing on a ground. Now if you are bending your body in the forward direction and finally touching your toes, there is a natural tendency that you exhale. Hence if you start inhaling while bending yourself in the forward direction, that means you are doing it wrong. Now if this same thing you are doing from the perspective of an exercise then you don’t really pay any attention to the way you breathe. You simply bend forward and come back to the original position. So this is what sets the yoga asanas apart from an exercise.
In today’s world, it has been scientifically proven that any activity which you perform consciously has a far greater impact than an activity which is performed unconsciously. Hence there is a very thin fine line between a yoga asana and exercise. Any form of exercise if done consciously and in a rhythmic way becomes an asana. And if you are able to hold the asana for longer periods of time lets say 2-3 hours, then the same asana becomes a ‘Yoga Mudra’. So when you master a particular posture consciously, you reach a stage where you are able to hold it as much as you want. When you reach such levels, your very life energies start to become highly intense and exuberant because you start to activate the energy nodes present in your body which we call as ‘Chakras’. All this has a great impact on you at the physical, emotional, psychological & energy levels.
Interrelatedness of Yoga Asanas with Exercise: Before any person wants to dive deep into yoga; exercise is a preparatory step for him. Only when you have a certain mastery over your physical body, you can take a step ahead towards the yoga & its various aspects. Hence there are many preparatory exercises which prepares a person for the yoga asanas and its higher levels. Only when your body is flexible enough up to a reasonable level you can do asanas. Any person who must have done some kind of yoga, he must have seen that whenever we start doing yoga, the very first steps is the preparatory exercises. Because that’s very important. It’s like your body is being tuned to a particular frequency so that you can receive the benefits of what is being offered.
So before we do any yogic asana, 15 to 20 minutes warm-up session is very very essential. Once this is done, then we can start practicing the asanas. The kind of asanas you do is subjected to various aspects of the results you are expecting, the kind of flexibility your body has, the level of mastery you have over your physical body etc. Once you become the master of your body and mind, holding an asana is not a challenge for you. Further down if you keep on practicing asanas, you can reach a stage where you are capable of doing ‘Meditative poses’.
What is a Meditative Pose?: This is a wonderful gift which yoga offers to us as a piece of life. When you are consciously able to make your awareness travel to the specific part of your body, the simple asana becomes a meditative asana. Hence if you observe physically, there is no difference between an asana and a meditative pose. But there is a deep inward dimension which plays a significant role in meditative asana. It’s a wonderful technique wherein you are capable of making your awareness travel to different parts of your body. Now to which part you need to take your awareness depends upon the kind of asana you are doing. In general, the attention is paid to that part wherein you feel more tension & stress within your physical body. For e.g if you are twisting your body, then the tension comes to your waistline, Hence if you are consciously able to focus & pay attention to the pain & stress which is happening around your waist, then the pose at that particular moment becomes a meditative pose. This is the best way to harness the various benefits which yoga asanas can offer to us.
So I would stop this article here. I hope after reading this article you would have the clear understanding of yoga & exercise & also their differences and interrelatedness to each other. If you have more doubts, then you may reach out in the comments section below.
Happy Reading 🙂