Many (maybe most) new yoga students in our American culture decide to try a class because they have heard about the physical conditioning and/or stress relieving benefits it can provide. We certainly want to make yoga accessible to everyone, so if “exercise” is what brings a new student in, that is a perfectly valid reason. However, it has been my experience as a yoga teacher that many of these same “exercisers” begin to develop their own interest in understanding more about yoga as a system, as they begin to realize deeper benefits than they ever imagined. They learn to connect with their breath, calm their thoughts, become more aware of their bodies, and sometimes even connect more deeply with their own spirituality. It is our responsibility as yoga teachers to meet our students where they are, not to push them in a direction they don’t want to go, and to show them that yoga is a deeply personal practice that they, themselves can guide in a direction that aligns with their own values.