Has fitness become synonymous with health in your mind?  In a culture of goal-oriented overachievers, Yoga can offer a welcome respite and a completely different set of questions.  Instead of asking: "How many pounds will it help me lose?" with Yoga the question is: "How can I live a healthier, happier life?"

Many people are drawn to Yoga because of its physical benefits - we are all inundated with pictures of lithe Yogis on the covers of magazines.  However, consider Yoga's ability to give you a life without pain, physical or emotional.  Everywhere around us "fitness" is advertised, praised, sold and paid for, it is a booming industry.  However, by becoming fit, do we necessarily become healthy? 

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If in your quest for fitness you hit the gym on a daily basis, but you still have insomnia, pain, indigestion, tension in the neck and low back, and injuries on top of it, then what is the ability to do 30 push-ups really give you?  Is running a marathon and then suffering busted knees for the rest of your life worth it?  Why do we tend to overdo everything?  Why do our goals tend to be so grandiose?  Do these lofty goals and achieving them allow us to have better relationships with people?  Make us feel connected to a greater purpose in life?  Do we, by mastering a headstand, also become better human beings?  Maybe, maybe not.

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Unless you really, really enjoy the activities that bring with them physical overexertion, unless you feel that your life would not be complete without a career in ballet, or a marathon, then sensible is the approach I'd recommend. Self-awareness is where it all starts.

Our Yoga practice offers us many tools for creating greater Self-awareness, compassion for ourselves and others, patience, joy, and surrender has a chance to make a real, lasting change in our lives.  Yoga can teach us to accept our limitations, and instead of fighting with your own body, you can learn to have a friendly, cooperative relationship with it.  Learning to be friends with the body, accepting it and loving it is the fist step towards accepting yourself, your own true nature, and becoming comfortable in your own skin.  And once we make peace with ourselves, we are more able to find peace with others.  All the arguments we ever have with our loved ones, all the conflicts at work and social groups can be solved by making peace with ourselves first.  By starting with ourselves, we become the change that we want to see.  And as we manifest our clearer vision of reality, everyone around us feels compelled to manifest it too.

So, next time when you catch yourself fearful whether things continue to be as before, or anxious about what comes next, drop into the present moment and project into the world what you want it to be.  Be confident that you can manifest in your life the positive things you desire.  Be the positive vibe in the world, and the world will reciprocate.

Read my next blog entries, Know Thyself and Love Thyself about the kinds of attitudes to cultivate in your Yoga practice in order to achieve a more positive state of being. The video below offers a view of health that I agree with wholeheartedly. Having worked at a gym for eight years (and having been subjected to their "fitness test" to be hired there as a Yoga instructor, which included timed sit-ups, push-ups, jogging on the treadmill, and touching my toes), I have seen first hand that fitness and health are not the same thing.