Many people who begin yoga or observe it from afar may not be familiar with anything other than the fact that it seems to be for stretchy and bendy people!
Sometimes there are questions about the differences between things like yoga and Pilates. Even yogasana-inspired, gym-based Body Balance is often purported to be yoga. Really though, this is like comparing apples with oranges since the true meaning of yoga has little to do with exercise and actually comes back to levels of consciousness and maintaining a healthy mind. How we actively observe our thoughts and ego during the practice of asana, plus our lifestyle and attitude generally – this is yoga.
So the real difference is a 5000 year old philosophy which, although not religious, essentially has more in common with the ideals of Buddhism.
“Asana” or posture therefore is only one, very tiny part of that whole philosophy. `
The first “Yama” (ethical disciplines) is “Ahimsa” which translates to mean “non violence”. Of course we all know what that means in the real world, but are we violent to ourselves when we exercise and/or diet? Do we find ourselves getting caught up with ego and attachment to unrealistic goals rather than opting for mindful change and transformation? Could we be patient, less aggressive and take a more loving approach? Imbibe a sense of self-care that will actually lead to a more positive outcome on every level? That’s yoga and it doesn’t have to involve any form of traditional asana.