I was talking to someone yesterday who is trying to find a good exercise program that fits her life so that she will practice it consistently. Knowing that I am a yoga teacher, she was asking me about yoga. As we talking, she asked me whether yoga could be used to build strength. The answer, of course, is yes. There are plenty of poses that require a lot of strength (headstands, arm balances, the warrior poses) and practicing these postures will build strength in practitioners over time.
The thing that really struck me in the conversation, however, is how often people come to yoga with a preconceived notion of what yoga can do for them. One of the most common ones I hear is that yoga is only for flexible people, and it only helps improve people’s flexibility. The truth is that while it does improve flexibility, it also builds strength, and improves posture, and stills the mind, and improves breathing, and deepens meditation, and can bring physical and emotional healing.
With as many different styles of yoga available today, it is possible for everyone to find one that emphasizes whatever particular benefit that they are looking for—from strength to endurance to flexibility to spirituality.
It’s the only “fitness” activity I’ve ever tried that continues to deepen my understanding of myself and of how it can benefit me the longer I try it. I won’t claim that it can do everything—there are still many reasons to incorporate other activities into our fitness and wellness routines—but it is definitely one of those practices that is more on the inside as one begins to practice it than it appears to be on the outside.