How is yoga different from stretching or other kinds of fitness?

Yoga focuses more on process than goal. Gym activities or other more goal-driven exercises are quite different. You are not competing with anyone when you do yoga. Toning is the way in which yoga achieves muscular strength, in contrast to, for example, weightlifting, which breaks down muscle to build it. Unlike stretching or fitness, yoga is more than just physical postures. Patanjali's eight-fold path illustrates how the physical practice is just one aspect of yoga. Even within the physical practice, yoga is unique because we connect the movement of the body and the fluctuations of the mind to the rhythm of our breath. Connecting the mind, body, and breath helps us to direct our attention inward. Through this process of inward attention, we learn to recognize our habitual thought patterns without labeling them, judging them, or trying to change them. We become more aware of our experiences from moment to moment. The awareness that we cultivate is what makes yoga a practice, rather than a task or a goal to be completed. Your body will most likely become much more flexible by doing yoga, and so will your mind.
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