We all head to the mat for different reasons. Often spurring the debate, is yoga exercise? Most certified teachers and serious practitioners will tell you that yoga is in fact a practice, not an exercise. Often referencing the spiritual and ritualistic, the embodiment of “self care” actualized.
It is the natural association that exercise is something we do for varied reasons. Whether it’s to lose weight, lower cholesterol, reduce stress or all of the above. No one can deny the benefits of “getting physical”.
Like exercise, yoga can offer all of the above. It is not only the aspect of spirituality and ritual that separates yoga from other exercises, but the theory and habitual (consistency) that sets it apart. Its theories guide students to understand one's body more thoroughly.
Rather than exercise vs practice by definition, “asana” yoga postures offer an aspect of exercise along with the other 7 limbs that teach a practice of discipline that increases balance, centering, understanding, endurance both physically as well as energetically.
Yoga is a practice that contains 8 limbs.
From the above you might see why teachers and longtime students would consider yoga as a practice. It is an effort/act that functions day to day, breath to breath - it’s more than physical movement.
It’s full body health.
Could the answer be that yoga is a practice that offers exercise(among other things), rather than the debate of practice vs. exercise? Much like we’ve learned through our individual movements, two things can be true. How does yoga resonate with you??