Yoga Journal


Yoga creates fitness, there’s no doubt about it—even if yogis themselves sometimes quibble over the semantics. One yogi argues that a fitness-oriented approach undermines yoga’s spiritual foundations. Another counters that physical practice is a must for excavating yoga’s deeper treasures. So who’s right?

They both are, says Sage Rountree, a yoga teacher and endurance-sports coach in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and the author of The Athlete’s Guide to Yoga. “In truth, yoga practitioners need to forge the middle path between spiritual practice and exercise,” she says. “Otherwise you’ll miss out on getting everything yoga has to offer.”

Cyndi Lee, founder of the now-closed OM Yoga Center in New York, and a fit yogi herself, agrees. “A purist might say that you shouldn’t put too much emphasis on the body, but ignoring it doesn’t make sense, either,” she says. “You can’t get enlightened outside of your body.”

To embrace fitness as the first step toward finding the middle path, consider expanding your definition of fitness, Rountree suggests. The American College of Sports Medicine will tell you that fitness consists of four elements: muscular fitness, flexibility, cardiovascular fitness, and respiratory ability. But

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