Every year, more people grow out of touch with their bodies. The computer culture is facing an obesity crisis that will have dire health consequences for millions of people. Fad diets and exercise routines come and go every month, but can’t fix the problem. Fitness yoga can.
Why Fads Don’t Work
The health and fitness industry is making big money. Companies make billions of dollars selling special exercise DVDs, foods, and equipment to consumers desperate to lose weight. When a device doesn’t give results, something new is waiting to take its place. Despite this dance, the number of obese people is growing. Diet and exercise fads offer extreme, short-term changes that can’t last.
Yoga Does Work
On the other hand, yoga offers gentle changes that slowly improve the body and mind. Every practice brings students a new understanding of their physical form and a deeper appreciation of their mental abilities. Fitness-oriented yoga classes don’t leave students feeling ashamed about their appearance, unlike diet ads. Yoga students love their bodies for what they can do, instead of hating them for how they look.
Using yoga to build fitness is ideal for new exercisers. Good teachers will show students how to listen to their body, never pushing too far or risking injury. Exercise programs that claim “no pain, no gain,” and demand hours of daily exercise from beginners, can be dangerous and easily lead to burnout. Gentle yoga poses keep students safe and offer a way to ease into exercise. Plus, yoga is easy on the joints, unlike running and other high-impact exercises.
Yoga For Fitness
Of course, yoga programs can offer an intense workout. Ashtanga yoga works the entire body, including the cardiovascular system. Yoga/Pilates combo classes offer a heavy core workout, and creative instructors are offering more fusion classes every day. Most successful yoga studios offer sessions, which range in difficulty, to ensure beginners have something to work towards, and more advanced students still feel challenged.
Yoga has been practiced for thousands of years. The need for fitness yoga classes is not going to fade away. After years of working desk jobs, and relaxing in front of televisions, new yoga students need yoga to reconnect with their body’s unique physical potential. Yoga will always be a positive, successful way to realign the human mind and body.
The Drawbacks of Fitness-Based Classes
“Fitness yoga” has become extremely popular, worldwide, as more people realize how much yoga has to offer as a form of exercise. In fitness-based sessions, it involves focusing primarily on yoga as an intense bodyweight workout. Most classes borrow various asanas, flows, and sequences, from several different types of yoga, in order to produce an exercise routine that is physically rewarding for the students. Fans of physical yoga workouts report that they have increased flexibility, better posture and balance, and improved muscle tone. However, are there any drawbacks to the rise of fitness-based yoga classes? Does its popularity affect the idea of yoga as a meditative practice? What can yoga instructors do in order to keep a healthy balance between fitness-based classes and more traditional yogic methods?
One of the drawbacks of fitness style classes is that a student’s meditative and mental development is often sacrificed for advancing physical skill. With the pace of physically challenging classes being a bit faster paced than that of the traditional meditative yoga session, there is less time for instructors to inspire their students to reflect on the meaning and rationale for their movements. In many classes, explanations for the movements are abandoned entirely, and traditional terminology is not used. While this helps fitness yoga appeal to a wider range of people, it does mean that the participants are not immersing themselves in a traditional experience.
The Critics Are Piling On
Are teachers selling out by giving students what they want? Another criticism, regarding fitness yoga, is that it “waters down” the traditional practice in order to make it easier for people to relate to it. Yoga has a rich spiritual history and wonderful methods that many people have a difficult time understanding. Let’s face it, Yogic methodology is an evolving science. Yogic fitness tends to omit these deeper aspects, because they are less related to physical exercise. Most people want to workout, shower, and go home. They tend not to think about the mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of their exercise routine. This is why fitness yoga is popular; but it can be a drawback for some.
While there are some drawbacks to fitness-based classes, they can be extremely beneficial, if they are designed and run by a qualified and understanding yoga instructor. He or she must be able to give the students the exercise experience they want, without sacrificing what yoga means to them. Whether or not the talent and wisdom of the instructor is enough to overcome these perceived drawbacks are up to the students themselves. Ultimately, if they derive pleasure from the practice of physically challenging yoga, and are happy with the benefits it provides to their lifestyle, then they may want to delve deeper into their study of yogic philosophy and methodology. Having a yoga instructor, who can guide them down that path, can take them from just a workout to a whole new way of life.
© Copyright 2013 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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