Wednesday, March 23, 2011

New Blog Name and Thoughts About Practice vs. Exercise


"If names are not correct, language will not be in accordance with the truth of things." ~Confucius 

One of the many things I love about yoga is that it is not just exercise, it is a ‘practice’.  You might hear people refer to their ‘yoga practice this morning’ or after a class a teacher might say ‘beautiful practice today everyone’.  It sounds so much nicer than having ‘exercised this morning’ or ‘good workout everyone’ doesn’t it?  

Lately I have been thinking about the difference between the words ‘exercise’ and ‘practice’.  To look at the definitions of the words there does not seem to be much of difference.  You can do a math exercise or you can do a math practice, same thing almost.   The difference is really very subtle, but there is a difference. 

‘Exercise’ has developed a bit of a negative connotation for most people, but to refer to a ‘practice’ seems just lovely, almost spiritual.

Here are some of the differences between ‘exercise’ and ‘practice’ as I see it:

  • Ownership- You don’t really own an exercise,  a doctor or lawyer does not have an ‘exercise’ they have a ‘practice’. Once you start referring to your exercise as a ‘practice’ well now it’s yours and you start to take some responsibility and pride in it.
  • Regularity- You can do an exercise just once and it’s still and exercise, you can’t do a practice only once. Referring to your exercise as a ‘practice’ indicates it is something you are committed to, it’s a regular part of your life.
  • Overlap- An exercise is only that specific activity, but a practice might be the activity and the philosophy behind that activity, how the lessons from the activity are applied to daily life etc…
Exercise is really an awful word.  Exercise indicates some force, exertion, strain or difficulty.  But practice, well that whispers of comfort (even when uncomfortable), familiarity and wholeness.


When I started thinking about starting a running blog I originally thought I would like to call it ‘Practice, Practice, Practice’ but thought I should try to be descriptive and be sure to include the word ‘running’ in the title.  But as I go along ‘Running and Other Things’ just doesn’t sit well with me.  I don’t think it really speaks to what I would like to write about around here.  This blog is about my philosophy about living an active and healthy life.  And I think ‘Practice’ is just the perfect word to describe that.

1 comment:

  1. Oh thank you very much
    your explanation of the difference between exercise and practice really helped me

    ReplyDelete