If exercise is so good for us, why haven’t we evolved to want it?
Study after study confirms the benefits of all types of exercise. Until a couple hundred years ago, humans walked, hunted and gathered. These tasks, while essential to survival, have also kept our bodies healthy.
However, evolution has favored the efficient use of energy. Those who have the energy to endure pass on their genes and take care of their offspring. We have evolved to prefer resting whenever possible, in case the next meal is hard to find.
In short, our physical body wants one thing and our mind wants another. It’s why we put off exercising, even though we are well aware of its perks. The voice in our head encourages us to stay in bed and conserve energy. That voice doesn’t understand there’s food in the refrigerator.
Whenever I’m about to make the choice to exercise, I hear my evolutionary history saying “Dude, chill.” But then I hear my heart, lymph system and sinews. Everything I’m made of quietly requests that I get some movement in.
Many people describe yoga as “mind over matter,” but they’ve got it backwards. My yoga practice is always geared toward listening to my own matter, what I’m made of, while quieting the chatter in my mind. Although exercise studies have inspired me and helped craft my workout and yoga routines, listening to my body has resulted in me doing more jump squats and bench presses than any exercise study.
This is why developing an internal awareness through yoga is more important to our health than ever. In the case of maintaining a physical practice, it’s matter over mind.