The answer to the question can be answered in a hundred, if not a thousand ways as it will not only depend on who you ask but also when you ask them; teacher or student. Of course no answer is wrong as everyone has their own reasons and motivations for their practice.
(Aside from this – who are we to judge anyway!?)
For some, yoga gives people time away from their day to day commitments to switch off. For others the act of moving their body can be to support recovery from injury, gaining greater flexibility through to an alternative type of exercise. Similar to the answers to the first question – none of them are wrong and indeed many are likely to change or even evolve over time
The most important thing for a student is to find a style of yoga, and teacher that can provide what they are looking for. I often describe yoga as similar to athletics – with track and field the different events require different skills and training. For all of the events an athlete will need dedicate time and effort to see improvement.
In a yogic context there is now such a wide variety of styles to choose from including Hatha, Hot, Vinyasa Flow, Restorative, Power, Partner, Acro, Aero to name a few….the list goes on. Some styles and teachers will suit some and not others. It’s up to the student to find what works for them.
As I started my training to become a teacher 3 years ago – I was speaking to someone who simply summed up why people do yoga. His comment has stuck with me ever since and remains important to me now.
“Whenever someone comes out of a class – they are always smiling”
In my mind – it doesn’t matter why they are smiling but that they are.
The person who made the comment has never done yoga but gets to see the increasingly broad range of people that do. As a taxi driver in London, he gets to see the cross section of our community.
If a class can help people smile then I can not think of a better way to spend an hour of my day sharing my practice.