I get a lot of flak for being into yoga and weightlifting.
Yogis tell me that weightlifting hinders one’s practice because it is aggressive and decreases flexibility. Other teachers scoff at me for not being a “purist.” Students assume that I teach power yoga because I wear athletic clothing, work as a personal trainer and own a gym.
On the other hand, weightlifters tell me that yoga is for women. Men decline to train with me because they say that a yogi could not push them as hard. Other trainers agree that I attract mainly female clients because I am also a yoga teacher.
I used to believe them. Not only did I separate yoga and weightlifting, but I also ranked them. I stopped lifting weights for several years because I deemed it less sacred than my yoga practice. I even argued with my father that yoga was better than weightlifting.
Get over yourself and your attachments to exercise
Then, my teacher challenged me to demolish the division and hierarchy that I had created. She pronounced the line that I had drawn between yoga and training to be nonexistent and urged me to knock yoga off of the pedestal that I had put it on.
I laughed at her response. Here was a sage, telling me that yoga was not as special as I had thought that it was!
Really, I was laughing at myself because the answer was simple: In both modalities, we work with the body to remove pain and the mind to remove limitations. We use whatever system works to achieve the results that we desire.
Yoga and Weightlifting as compliments
Now, I see yoga and weightlifting as complements rather than competitors. I encourage you to approach exercise more fluidly too.
Drop all of the dogma. It is another form of attachment. Abandon any pride and pretension glorifying your exercise preferences and just move.
Move in a way that makes you feel better and more confident in your body. Move in a way that increases your energy and decreases your pain. If you do that, you cannot get it wrong. Any type of movement will be the right type of movement.
What I have realized from years of combining yoga and other exercises into a routine and lifestyle is that it can be done. The way to do so is to remove the lines between each modality. Stop seeing them as separate. Stop seeing them as greater than or less than.
When you drop your attachments to each modality, you can begin to see them for what they truly are: the same.
Whether you are holding warrior II, squatting under a barbell, or going on a long jog, it is all exercise. All three work in the physical body with the movement, the energetic body with the breath, and the mental body with the mind.
When I am feeling tight or stressed, I practice yoga. When I am feeling weak or unconfident, I lift weights. When I have too much energy, I go for a run.
Being able to decide which option to choose in each moment is a potent tool. To me, it is the ultimate sign of being an advanced exerciser. And that is pure enough for me.
A Maur Unity collaboration, edited by Maura Bogue