These days people have a lot of confusion between Yoga asanas practice and sports/ Physical exercises. But if we are talking about the difference between yoga asanas and physical exercises than it’s AWARENESS – when performing asana one must be aware of the breath, physical and mental state.
We can also say that Yoga and exercise are not the same. These days when we join any fitness programs and most of them teach exercises, Yoga asanas, pranayama, Tai Chi, aerobics, martial arts, etc or a combination of these. The main aim of all these are to maintaining and improving health.
A lot of us are not sure about the difference between an Asana and Physical exercise and often wonder whether one is better than the other. If you too are not sure, read on to find out. Here are some of the differences in a general sense:
- Asana can be performed anywhere, with no need for additional equipment whereas physical exercise needs equipment to perform
- All people regardless of age, sex and health condition can perform Asana whereas some physical exercise depends on the physical condition
- Asanas stretch the body muscles and lengthen them, unlike exercise which generally shortens the muscles
- Asana is only one of 8 limbs given by Patanjali as the means for attending self- realization and so health is only a by-product and not the actual goal
- Asana is performed slowly whereas physical exercise needs fast workout
- Asanas require no companion and no competition is involved
- When performing asana blood goes to the center of the body, while during exercise the blood goes to a periphery
- Asana develops strength, stability, flexibility as well as the mind, while exercises develop muscles
- Asanas contribute to emotional stability
- Asana use less energy and one feels refreshed after performing them, yet exercise use more energy and one feel tired after practice
- When performing Asana a great importance is given to the breath, while during exercise very little attention given to the breath
- In the practice of Asana, the oxygen consumption is reduced whereas in physical exercise the oxygen consumption is increased
- In Asana the respiration rate falls, whereas in exercise it increases. This is because physical exercises are generally done very quickly and with a lot of heavy breathing, therefore the respiratory system is forced to work much harder.
- In Yoga, the body temperature drops whereas while exercising it tend to rise.
- In asana, the body’s metabolic rate drops whereas with exercise it is seen to increase.
- In asana, the muscles receive minimum nutrition/ oxygen and the organs receive more, whereas, in Physical exercise, it is the muscles that receive the most nutrition/ oxygen.
- In asana, the blood pressure and heart rate decrease, whereas in exercise they increase as your heart is working harder.
- It is also seen that a regular yoga practitioner’s body requires lesser food than a person who indulges in more physical exercise.
- Asana help to harmonize the endocrinal secretions, thereby balancing the emotions and giving a positive attitude to life.
- Asana stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, while exercise stimulates the sympathetic nervous system.
- Physical exercise tends to overwork the joints and can often lead to rheumatism and stiffness later on in life. The opposite in the case with asana.
- Asana encourages flexibility and capacity to adapt to the environment and to change if done correctly. They also help develop stamina.
- Asana develops inner awareness, but the same is not necessarily the case with exercise.
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