Does yoga have to be spiritual? I'm a total fitness geek and would love to try yoga, but I feel like it's a very spiritual practice that requires that I "believe" in something transcendental. Is that really true? Jacline S.
Like I’ve explained in many articles before this one, one of my favorite things about practicing yoga is the yogi’s ability to make and take whatever he or she wants out of it. Some people land on their mats for a chance to lose weight, or to get more flexible, or even to find answers, but the most important thing is that they are landing there for no reason other than that they want to be there.
Yoga began as a mental and spiritual discipline, but its reception in the Western world takes more of a physical approach. Americans specifically have noted the tremendous physical health benefits that it provides, and since then, yoga popularity has risen quite a bit in the past ten years.
Of course, yoga’s spiritual aspects still stand strong, but many teachers, studios, and gyms across the country have noted and respected peoples’ desire to begin the practice solely on a fitness level- and that’s totally okay.
Whether or not your yoga practice begins as a search for a spiritual transformation or enlightenment, where it goes from there is completely up to you. Many people start their practice as a way to get in shape, and soon find themselves on a path for a deeper, more spiritual journey, and some have the opposite experience.
What you get out of your time on your mat is completely up to you. There’s no rule book, or referees. Find what calls to you and stick with it. After all, yoga is all about being true to yourself, your desires, and most importantly, your needs.
There are different types of yoga for different types of people looking for different things. Finding your style of yoga is important, and I recommend that if you try a specific type you aren’t too fond of, you begin the search for another. It may take a while to find your niche, but chances are there’s one for you.
To learn more about different styles of yoga, check out this blog post that describes and categorizes them.