2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner

Yoga: Exercise, spiritual practice or both?

Published: July 10, 2014, 4:54 pm, by Jen Mulson

This is something I’ve considered and struggled with over the past few years. It was recently brought to my attention again.

Why do we do yoga? Why do I do yoga? Do I do it just for the physical exercise it provides? Or do I do it for more? And what are my students there for?

There is no denying yoga is a great way to exercise your body, but sometimes I wonder if that’s the only reason students come to class. And I guess that’s fine. I’m not complaining. I like having students in class. And I also believe that practicing yoga postures works this magic on people, sometimes sooner, sometimes later.

Like I did, way back in the day, they want to know more about what this yoga stuff is, and why it feels so good. That often leads to the discovery of the other seven limbs of yoga, which include breathwork, yamas, niyamas, meditation and more.

I admit it – sometimes I get frustrated when students only seem to care how hard the posture sequence or the core work is. I want them to care about the other stuff, too. I want them to learn about ahimsa (non-violence), aparigraha (non-hoarding) and santosha (contentment). I want them to appreciate the journey toward pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses) and dhyana (meditation).

But I also feel like I should be grateful for people coming to class no matter what reason they’re there for.

We could spend quite some time talking about this. But what do you think? Why do you go to yoga? jen.mulson@gazette.com