Yoga beyond Fitness: Getting more than Exercise from an Ancient Spiritual Practice

Yoga beyond Fitness: Getting more than Exercise from an Ancient Spiritual Practice


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An estimated seventeen million people currently practice yoga and spend roughly three billion dollars annually on classes, products, and services in the United States. On the one hand, yoga’s widespread popularity means that more people are being exposed to the potential benefits yoga has to offer. And yet, yoga has expanded over the decades to become a full-fledged industry of the contemporary marketplace, filled with so many producers, sellers, and consumers that they seem to outnumber the spiritual teachers, healers, devoted adepts, and practitioners. Yoga has become an unusual blend of ancient spiritual path from India and American commercialism, begging the question, “Is yoga merely a fitness industry masquerading as spirituality?” This issue is hotly debated right now at Yoga magazines and studios and centers across the country. Yoga Beyond Fitness captures the story of American yoga practice today, with special attention given to those who treat it with reverence and wish to explore it as a receptacle of transformative power, for which it was originally intended. Yoga instructor Tom Pilarzyk helps us restore the transformative center at the heart of yoga by showing how to bring greater intention, open-heartedness, and peace into our practice both on and off the mat. With personal stories and testimonials from students, teachers, and other professionals, Pilarzyk delivers a meaningful guide for staying true to the heart of yoga. A valuable resource for further practice, the book also includes an extensive listing of national yoga centers and a study guide with discussion questions at the back of the book. For those just discovering yoga or for those who have practiced for a while and feel that there is a deeper meaning readily accessible but not directly evident, this book is both a sober wake-up call about how yoga is being transformed and a hopeful, heartfelt tribute to its highest aspirations.


Thomas Pilarzyk is a true yogi who encourages students to move beyond the purely physical practice of Yoga to the spirit of Yoga. His book is an inspiration and guide to all who recognize Yoga as a holistic lifestyle, spiritual discipline and means toward transformation.
Sharon Steffensen
Editor, YOGA Chicago magazine

One of yoga's core principles is self-reflection. Yoga Beyond Fitness gives the yoga community an opportunity to reflect on where we came from, who we are, and how to return to the essence of a yoga as a spiritual practice. It is a must read for anyone who wants to understand Yoga in the U.S., and anyone who cares about the future of Yoga in the West.
Kelly McGonigal, PhD
Editor in Chief, International Journal of Yoga Therapy

Today's yoga enthusiasts face a stunning array of choices in what to practice during their time on the mat. Another choice, one not so apparent, is how deeply we as practitioners embrace the techniques of yoga as tools for personal and societal transformation. While helping you take your practice beyond the limits of physical fitness, this book will sensitize you to the responsibility we share to not just keep the yoga tradition vital, but evolve it in positive and powerful ways. If you want yoga to be more than a fad, if you see it as part of the solution to the problems we face as a species and planet, if you want to go deeper, you'll enjoy this book.
Richard Faulds
Kripalu Center author, senior teacher, and Chair of the Board of Trustees