This might count as a bad yogi confession.
Or it might make me seem like a better yogi – more spiritual and less “of the physical world”, perhaps? (LOL how’s that for woo-woo-hippie bullshit?) I’m really not sure where this puts me on the spectrum running from Bad Yogi to Good, but it is what it is:
I kinda really hate fitness.
Wait, what? You might be quick to question, which I guess is understandable. A #yogaeverydamnday devotee, hating fitness? But aside from yoga, I am really not a “fit” person. It’s hardly an exaggeration to say I get winded running the length of myself. I’m uncoordinated and bad at sports. I would be absolutely clueless if you plunked me down in the middle of a gym. But still, I think I’m reasonably healthy and active enough. I’ve got nothing against the whole active lifestyle, exercise-based endorphin thing. It’s the term “fitness” and the mindset that seems to come with it that irks me.
I’ll backtrack a little, to try and explain. I recently went to my first pilates class. It was promoted as a Yoga/Pilates Fusion, so I just kind of assumed okay, yeah, yoga – I got this! I have no idea what I thought pilates entailed, but this wasn’t it.
Right from the get-go I was a little thrown off by how Not Yoga-y it was. Instead of the smooth flow from one pose to another I was used to in yoga, each pose was a new, separate task. It felt like running through a grocery list of movements: four reps of these, then three of these, then four more of those, etc, etc…
I couldn’t help but think of the neon-lycra clad, overly-peppy instructors in those ’80s workout videos as I forced myself to complete the however-many-reps of leg lifts. Partway through, I had the distinct thought: UGH – this feels like a fitness class.
In all the yoga classes I’ve been to, I’ve never had that kind of feeling. Even in more advanced classes that push me to my limits, I never feel like I’m exercising. It never feels like I’m doing something in the name of fitness, or in an effort to get fit. Yoga feels like a practice of gratitude, an escape for my brain, and a gift for my body, but quite simply – it’s something I enjoy doing.
That’s the difference, I think – the motivation behind the exercise. With yoga, I feel like there is no goal, no final destination. Your reward is the practice itself. In fitness, more often than not, the motivation is aesthetic: losing weight, gaining muscle, achieving a new personal best. Nobody does crunches for the warm glow of contentment they bring. They’re pushing through those crunches in an effort of self-improvement. And that’s where I have an issue.
Yoga accepts you as you are – what you can do, with the body you have, on any given day – it is enough. With fitness, different story. You can always do more, push harder, feel the burn!!! I don’t know about you, but the “you’re not good enough unless you change” feeling is not one of my favorites.
That being said, everybody’s different. While I genuinely enjoy my yoga practice, someone else might practice purely to try and “tone up”. Some people might start running in an effort to lose weight, while others, like my mom, do it for the famous “runner’s high”. You might be hitting the gym because you want to build muscle and look buff, or you might really love the feeling of strength and pride you get lifting heavy weights. Whatever motivates you to get that workout in – that’s what I think makes the biggest difference. You’ve got to ask yourself: am I doing this because I “should”, or because I genuinely want to? The fitness world wants you to choose the “should” option, the one that gives *results*; I think you should choose the option that you enjoy.
Find your yoga. Find a way of moving your body and getting a little bit active that makes you happy. Find the thing that makes you forget that you’re even working out, because you’re enjoying it so much. We could all benefit from a little exercise, but it doesn’t have to feel like exercise, yknow?
Have fun with it.