I love sweating and having to control my breath to deal with the heat, it makes me feel so much more present because I am forced to focus all of my energy on the here and now or risk falling down or passing out. It leads me directly into a meditative state without struggling to shut my inner-chatter up (which I always struggle with otherwise). I love nothing more than zeroing in on a challenging pose and working through the heat, exhaustion, and my own hang-ups to succeed at it.
What I’m saying is that I’m not opposed to getting a workout in yoga, in fact I’m usually disappointed if I’m not tired and sore at the end of it. But there is an almost ineffable difference between just working out and working hard at yoga.
A lot of people think yoga is easy. They think it’s just “stretching”. They think it’s a “girly” exercise. While the truth is, it can be as gentle or as challenging as you make it.
But then… there are those people who think you can only make it difficult by tacking on situps, pushups, weights, Pilates, and other western exercises to the traditional asanas–which drives me insane.
I know that many people enjoy westernized classes that cut out the hippie bullshit. But I, for one, LOVE the hippie bullshit. It’s that yoga-high that keeps me coming back to my mat every single day. So when the instructor starts counting out situps or having us do Pilates kicks while standing in Tree Pose, I almost always immediately fall out of that meditative yoga high, because now I’m just working out. I’m counting down to the end of the reps, looking ahead for time to pass instead of staying in the present moment. I stop feeling my body and actively take my mind elsewhere so that I can work through the burn of a mindless, repetitive exercise.
And the thing is, it’s completely unnecessary.
You can work out your abs in boat pose or Bikram’s half moon. You can do sun salutations instead of push-ups. You can work on getting up into crow or flying pigeon and be utterly exhausted from head to foot. There are limitless poses and challenging variations in yoga that are inspiring to reach for and exhilarating to accomplish–so why on earth would you tack on boring pushups to make a yoga class challenging?
Does anyone else feel the same? =/