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The Big Difference Between a Workout and a Practice

How was your yoga workout today? It sounds strange, right? The words yoga and workout don’t really go together because yogis usually engage in a practice, not a workout.

Running, however, is often considered a workout. So is bootcamp, body sculpting and Spinning. What defines these activities as workouts is that they’re goal-oriented.

Runners, possibly the most goal-oriented of the bunch, may set time to their miles to make sure they’re hitting their marks. In bootcamp, body sculpting and Spinning, the goal could be to simply get through the class. But often there is an interval element to help keep everyone on track.

Goals motivate us to reach our finish lines.

The foundation for a practice is that it’s created with intention. At the beginning of a yoga class, you may have heard the instructor ask students to set an intention for the practice. She’s asking them to think about how they want to be in the class, not what they want to accomplish. Intentions are grounded in the present.

But just because someone is engaging in a practice doesn’t mean they have to give up their goals. Many yogis have #yogagoals like mastering handstand, or another challenging pose. The issue is when a goal gets in the way of intention and pulls people away from the practice. Goals encourage us to look ahead, to see what we want to achieve while intention is based in the now. So for yogis who want to achieve handstand, the key is to stay connected to the intention while working on the strength to balance on the hands.

Also, practice isn’t limited to just yoga! Anyone can turn anything into a practice as long as intention is brought to the activity. So for the runner, engaging in a running practice means she adds intention to the run. She still sets out to do her seven-minute mile, but now her intention could be to feel every muscle in her body so she’s aware of her alignment. She could also intend to notice her surroundings, all the natural beauty along the path.

Doing your workout is always a good idea. It’ll keep you motivated for stronger health. But consider placing intention behind your workout to also make it a practice. This commitment to the present moment will not only enhance your journey, it also makes arriving at the destination feel more complete.

Which of your workouts could be turned into a practice? —Elysha

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