If yoga weren’t a good workout, would you still do it?

When I started yoga, it was a substitute for running and biking, which at the time, didn’t feel good to me anymore (probably because I was 15-20 pounds heavier than I had ever been, due to chemo and inactivity). The type of yoga I came for was Bikram. When that got boring, being the same thing day in day out, I went to a class at Jivamukti and was shocked that there was singing (chanting) and lecturing (dharma) about things like “do no harm” (ahimsa) and “eat no meat” (whatever).

I admit it: I got caught up. I sang the Hare Krishna song. And I worshipped Hanuman, sort of. Well, I wouldn’t say “worshipped” exactly. But I dug the story. I bought all the must-listen-to music – the Krishna Das, the Donna Delory, the Dum Dum Project, the Drala.

And as I tend to do with anything about which I become passionate for any length of time, I grew disenchanted and began to find flaws, nitpick, get annoyed.

But one thing that I can never say about yoga is that it isn’t awesomely good for the body. The stretching mixed with isometric strengthening cannot be beat. If all yoga were were sitting and thinking, or not thinking, as it were, I would be done with it in a heartbeat. But yoga is what got me back in shape and what has kept me in shape ever since.

So, I know the answer to my question. Wondering how others feel.



18 Responses to If yoga weren’t a good workout, would you still do it?

  1. Susan says:

    It is a good workout, and i still don't do it anymore.
    How about we call it something else. Like Jazzercise?

  2. Yoga Chickie says:

    Maybe you will do some of it again someday…maybe if you call it something else…like Jazzercise, but not Jazzercise.

  3. Sharper says:

    Since I'm still early in the yoga adventure, I would say I wouldn't do it if it wasn't a good workout.

    But that's because I haven't done it long enough to really know the other goods it can bring. I haven't got into much meditation or anything like that. And other than an inch off of my hips, I haven't noticed much weight loss either. But I'm both optimistic and curious that it has other purposes for me. I just haven't found them yet. Right now it's new, so I can't get enough of it because it's so exciting. But I'm like you, once I get used to new things, I most likely get bored and move on to something new.

    Oh and whoa!! I'd love to loose 15-20 lbs!

  4. SC Karen says:

    I'm a jazzerciser AND yogi. I need both. But I got into yoga because it was getting too hard on my body to do as much jazz as I wanted. And I love the way it has continued to shape my body in ways that extend what jazz does for me.
    If it weren't such a good workout would I still do it? Yes, I think so. Because now I'm really starting to reap the mental and spiritual benefits of it too. Even though I don't ascribe to much of the buddhist or hindu philosophy.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Knowing the physical aspect of yoga is good for me, even if it did not feel like a workout I would still do it.

    So yes, I can take a slow class and maybe be propped up with yoga furniture but I can appreciate its efficacy and would grudgingly endure…………..

    However, I would prefer the sweaty variety of yoga, i.e. Bikram and Astanga to keep me inanely happy!


  6. Grimmly says:

    Probably wouldn't have stuck with it past the first year if i hadn't felt it was doing me good physically and the weight wasn't dropping off. Now I'd probably stick with it because I like the discipline. Does filter through to everything else. Coming back to the breath at work and staying centered when things get tricky, one asana at a time, one key at a time (saxophone repair) One customer at a time. And then the Practice and all is coming thing. Things I might think are just too big a deal to start on, you begin thinking, just a little every day………

  7. Anonymous says:

    I've gained almost 10 pounds since I split and only do intermediate Sunday-Thursday. I've found intermediate to be much less cardiovascular, and in certain ways require less effort, than primary. I think I'm burning less calories for sure. Primary once a week doesn't make up for that.

    Thus, knowing that I'd probably lose weight if I started running again, I stick with the yoga. I enjoy the meditative aspects of the mysore style practice, and the strengthening, the way it makes my body look and feel as a whole, even if I don't get into the whole chanting Hare Krishna Hare Hare thing.

    If you can lift your body up on your arms, why go to a gym and do bicep curls?

  8. SC Karen says:

    I have a feeling yoga won't get boring for me. It seems like I learn new stuff about it very often. I've been doing it for 3 years…the first 2 on my own. Now it's as much a part of my routine as brushing my teeth or drinking coffee. Except that every once in a while there's a new flavor to explore!

  9. hyla says:

    yoga is so good for my body, that i'm way more fit now than i've ever been in my life

    but not just physically

    mentally, emotionaly, dare i say spiritually?

    it's stressbusting ability for me is beyond description

    for a (type a?) multitasker, what could be better?

    but the physical part is the gateway to the rest, so can't say the physical aspect is dispensible…

  10. Yoga Chickie says:

    Now that I think about it, perhaps I wasn't practicing "full disclosure" in my post. I think that in order to be a good workout, an activity must be enjoyable enough that one wants to continue engaging in the activity. Yoga, like all of the other activities to which I am drawn (hiking, gardening, running) has the quality of taking me out of my thoughts and into a "zone". That zone is something to which I like to return day in day out. Also, yoga has the UNIQUE quality of requiring the stomach to be, if not empty, then at least light on food. Thus, yoga makes me think about what I eat.

    So, all of the mind/spirit benefits of yoga contribute to it being a good workout. Still, if I found that it were making me fat, or fatter, like one of the commentators indicated was happening once the Second Series split was made, I would be inclined to drop it.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I find that when I'm practicing a lot of yoga, and/or working out a lot with other things, I gain weight. No idea why. But I would never, ever, ever trade those few extra pounds for my endorphin-fix. I'm a much better person all around when I'm working out, couple extra pounds or no.

  12. Susan says:

    If yoga was bacon, I would eat it.

  13. dagny_finds_faith says:

    I only do yoga as a workout. I'm a Christian and find some of the Eastern spirituality uncomfortable, so I just..don't pay attention to that part, I guess (no offense to anyone intended, of course). BUT I love how much stronger and more flexible I am. I like being able to get up a flight of stairs without being winded. I'm down with the splits. I like that I can twist into funny positions to get something I've dropped behind the sofa (only sort of kidding there). SOOO to answer your question…if it weren't a good workout, I would never do it.

  14. Sara says:

    Given how often I practice restorative yoga and meditation in the evening, yes, I would still practice. Vinyasa yoga, though? Hmm.

  15. vinyasa yoga dvd says:

    I still go yoga untill now, yoga is good to me, to my body.
    Yoga help me to find how to have a healthy life, help my body weight too.:-)

  16. Jackie says:

    Part of doing yoga is to keep the body in good shape. When the body is happy, the mind is content. This was part of creating good health in the body so less distractions would come from the body during meditation and other parts of life. The suffering of leaving the body to wilt and whither was finally seen as irresponsible. Study the tantra period of yoga, when the body was seen as holy, not as a vehicle only to be discarded upon death. It is a workout because it was designed to be a workout.

  17. Mary says:

    I practice primary twice a week and hope to be able to do it for the rest of my life. Over the course of the ten years I've practiced, my practice has changed me in subtle ways, mostly about how I think about things. I am not ambitious to move to second series and strenuously avoid injury. It's a great workout – I certainly practice for that reason – but it's the discipline and the avenue to approach life from a different perspective that also keep me coming back.

  18. Yoga Spy says:

    I admit that I, too, like asana's benefits not only for the mind but for the body, too. I still work out at the gym, but if my yoga comprised only pranayama (and not asana), I'd feel even more compelled to work out.

    I do find it interesting that age and body type, while relevant, do not predict excellence in asanas. A teacher might be older and less model-taut and -toned than her students, but nevertheless be the most advanced practitioner, demonstrating the best form and poses that no one else in class can do. Impressive!

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