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A lot of people, especially nowadays, think that yoga is a form of exercise. And while yoga might involve stretches and even some movements that can give the impression of a light workout, the function that yoga serves is very different to that of exercise. 


According to the Ashtanga Hridaya, exercise is seen as something that is done to build the strength and capability required to do an action (or karma). Yoga is seen as something that is done to build excellence in doing that karma. The two are related but clearly serve very different purposes.


The two operate at different levels: one is to build the ability to do something, the other is to make you do it well. And just as there are different exercises to build different capabilities (be it physical or intellectual) there are different yogic practices that can help build excellence in those fields.


Think of it like using a tool. Exercise sharpens the tool to give it the capability to accomplish a task while yoga gives you the ability to use the tool such that the task can be accomplished. As you can see both are equally important, but serve different purposes. One is quite useless without the other.

Dr. Nambi's Insights