Calm Within the Storm

How many of you are yoga lovers? Vinyasa, hashtanga, power, Bikram? When I first started my journey to become a healthier person, yoga was definitely not regularly part of my exercise routine. Something about bending myself into pretzel-like poses, repeating mantras and oms, focusing so intensely on expelling air in a rhythmic fashion… it just wasn’t for me. Or, so I thought.

I didn’t like the idea of having to sit with myself, being forced to listen to my thoughts and find a way to let them go. I also didn’t like bringing so much attention to my lack of flexibility (but more on that later).

Being in the right state of mind for yoga takes a ton of focus. It’s far too easy to let my mind wander off to other “more important” things: “Wish I hadn’t eaten such a big lunch before this session. It feel like there’s a BRICK in my stomach…” Refocus. “I  wonder if the weather will be nice enough tomorrow for an outdoor run. The weather man called for some morning and afternoon showers.” Stretch deeper. Breathe. “I wish the time would hurry up. I have ______ that I still have to get done today!”

It’s like I suffer from ADD just when it comes to calm, stationary forms of exercise; as if I’m afraid of having to be trapped within my own head, afraid of the silence.

When I started my first 90-day round of P90X last June, this was the case. And add-on to the fact that Yoga X lasts for 98 minutes!

I trudged through my first workout with it, trying my best not to stare at the time elapsed and time remaining, trying to relish a type of exercise that wasn’t so intense. Yoga X moves through a set of Sun Salutations, Mountain Pose, and then begins about an hour of quick-flow Vinyasas. The last 45 minutes is filled with balance poses and a few minutes of hard-core ab moves (lovingly called Yoga Belly 7. Wow.).

For someone who claims to have the “tightest” hamstrings in the world from too much sitting and not enough post-workout stretching, Yoga has turned into something I embrace now, instead of dreading it. Something about finishing an hour and a half of moving poses, warming your body up, and finding a calm moment in such a rushed life, is very peaceful.

I’ve found that when I make Yoga a priority during the week along with my strength training and HIIT cardio, I perform so much better. Because my muscles are more pliable and lengthened, I’m able to jump higher/run faster without injury/have a much fuller range of motion. My push ups and pullups are better. I think it’s even helped me steady my breathing during aerobic activity, like my runs.

If you’re just beginning a workout program, know that flexibility training is a very important and irreplaceable facet of your training. You don’t have to jump in headfirst with a Bikram class, posing in 105 degree heat. You don’t have to muddle through all 98 minutes of Yoga X. But start somewhere. Find 10 minutes each day to be quiet and stretch out your body. You’re going to find it helps you out much more than just your athleticism.

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2 thoughts on “Calm Within the Storm

  1. I gave up a career most people would die for, partly because I could no longer fit yoga in. After a decade it has become an integral part of my life and it has so many benefits if done at the right level for the person doing it. I think that’s the most important message about yoga: you don’t have to do a handstand or even touch your toes until your mind needs it. It is all about 60 minutes + of silent mind and while for some it is enough to do downward dog, for others downward dog becomes a rest pose and they want to do side crow. Glad you tried yoga glad you wrote this post.

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