Can yoga be "just" exercise or must it be more?
Do you think it's ok to advocate yoga-as-exercise to participants who may feel intimidated or turned off by the idea of meditation, the eight limbs, etc.? Is it ok to teach yoga as movement only, especially in a gym (i.e. non-dedicated studio) setting?
I think it's okay to teach yoga as exercise in the beginning (to an intimidated client). I did that in the small, conservative town where I live. I called my first class "stretch and relax". Once I gained the trust of my students, I began to spoon feed them yoga philosophy and concepts. Just like Charla said, "meet students where they are" so they can relate the teachings to their own lives. Now I have a group of dedicated "yogis" and they are mostly people who ..... you guessed it....thought "yoga isn't for me".
It's great to offer traditional and non-traditional Yoga so that the participants have more exercise options keep them active through their entire lifespan.
Absolutely! Yoga is just that..."An Exercise". How intense you make it depends on the advanced class you take.
Wishing You Great Success!
For me, yoga is not about exercise in the traditional sense. It is about pain management. I have very tight hamstrings (both) and a tight piriformis on one side. If those muscles are not stretched regularly, then I experience constant pain in the knee & buttocks. Consistent participation in a yoga class with poses that target those areas relieves the pain. I focus on my exhales to help deepen the poses.
If I do not focus on the meditative/spiritual aspect, is it still yoga? To me, yes.
An exercise is just what you make it to be. It can simply be contorting the body, or you can contort the mind and body. Depends mostly on the teacher and client.
Yoga means union. The only way to realize Union with the Divine or with the eternal all pervading Being or the very Self (dwelling within yourself and within every other being) is to let the mind go BEYOND all sensual impressions, thoughts and feelings, beyond all mental activities.
Yoga Asanas have a good cleaning and supporting influence on the body and nervous system in order to realize higher states of consciousness, but... most of the time, the practice of asanas does not lead to this "going beyond" or transcending of everything. The easiest way to realize the Self or Being is to minimize mental activity until pure awareness is all that remains. Complete stillness of the mind, but wide awake in it-Self!
"Be still and realize: I am GOD"
I am practicing a very simple transcending method of meditation for almost 43 years and I enjoy it every single day - morning and evening. In almost every meditation, after I have finished my yoga asanas and pranayama (breething excercizes), my mind comes 2-3 or even more times to this status of Non-activity and of "loosing the world", but gaining THAT.
I am That, you are That and all this is That.
But to tell you the truth, already since I was a preschool kid, I realized this experience once in a while, which is as - I believe - very natural to everyone. Later on I forgot about it until I found it again and was trained systematically when I was a student.
The combination of asanas, pranayama and a transcending meditation (without concentration!) technique is perfect and very soothing for the mind, body and nervous system.
please excuse my linguistic errors :-)