Exercised about Exercise

You may (we were not) be delighted to know that yoga can “help” with weight loss.

We are so fucking sick of the insane universe we live in insisting that the only thing healthy exercise is about is weight loss.

Laurie says: “As someone who has been doing yoga for a long time, this makes me really angry. Yoga is about flexibility; it’s about strength; it can be about spirituality. It is not supposed to burn calories; it’s designed not to stress your body. Doing yoga is an important part of my life. Making it about weight truly profanes the discipline.”

Sri Swami Satchidananda says, “there are gazelle people and there are elephant people and yoga will not change this.”

Debbie says: “As someone who does tai chi and loves it, what’s important to me is that “exercise” doesn’t have to be an obligation. It can be fun, and interesting, and involving, and satisfying. The point of tai chi for me is that I like the way it makes me feel. If I saw an article saying that tai chi would affect my weight, by now it wouldn’t matter; at the beginning, it would probably have had a negative effect on my wanting to do tai chi.”

Here’s the problem: A friend of Laurie’s was having back problems. She found an affordable gym. The gym’s entire philosophy was about weight loss; in effect, her personal trainer told her that if her back got better and her weight stayed stable, she’d still have failed. Since when has living pain-free counted as failure?

With this obsession, our society has managed to lose track of the fact that exercise is fun, feels good, and is about living in your body. It has recently been conclusively proved that fat people who exercise become healthy fat people, are healthier than thin people who don’t exercise. Any message that makes exercising about weight undermines the real values, and real pleasures, of exercise.

Don’t listen.

3 thoughts on “Exercised about Exercise

  1. Speaking as someone who has loved yoga since high school, and now does just a little bit of Qi Gong (out of Qi Gong for Beginners, I do everything by the book!) I deeply feel that exercise for losing weight tends to disconnect rather than connect people from their bodies. I lived through the whole “feel the burn” aerobic craze, and like some of the extreme exercise crazes now being marketed, the goal was to push the body and control it. The body was presumed, from the get-go, to be “wrong” and to need to be corrected.

    Just as the aim is to control weight, the aim was to control (and to some degree to punish) the body. It really is so sad that our bodies are always sending us messages, and we undertake exercise programs that teach us not to listen!


  2. It seems to me that the issue of control goes even further. We live in a world that we can’t control and that’s often scary.

    But we are told that we can control our bodies. Focussing on the (impossible) control of our bodies and the frustration that results from our failure can narrow our vision so much that we lose sight of the things that really matter.

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