Saturday, May 18, 2013

Yoga: Why you should think about doing it

In my quest for health (which, if you have been a consistent follower, you will know from my commentary last summer I began taking my health and fitness seriously and *pat on the back* I've kept it up) I've recently stumbled upon yoga. My routine last summer was pretty consistent: running 5-6 days a week. Once the cold kicked in, however, I had to get more creative. I have reactive airways (my lungs act up like an asthmatic under certain conditions) and the cold is just not my friend. I kept up my running until the end of October after my second 5K and then it was time for a bit of recovery. I took approximately two months off from running busying my time with a few weight exercises and Kenpo X here and there.

{Kenpo X is a disc from the famed P90X series... up until recently it was the only disc I would indulge in - 45 minutes of cardio in the form of mixed martial arts, primarily boxing/kick-boxing like exercises}

Shortly after the massacre in Newtown, I learned of a 5K at the end of March to support the victims families and immediately signed up. This meant I had to jump back into running. I joined a gym in January and resumed my running with more vigorous weight training than I had previously been doing. I ran my 5K and then fell into a bit of a slump. With my new career it was very difficult for me to work out with the frequency I had previously been used to since I work an odd schedule, and now that I wasn't tied to an upcoming event I lost my motivation to run.

As if it was a sign from the heavens, my mom called me one day and said "I signed up for yoga!" My whole family was shocked since we had all been ragging on her for years that she needed to get involved in some kind of physical activity because her body wasn't going to get any younger or stronger without it. She told me about it and insisted that I would probably enjoy it too. I knew P90X had a yoga disc, but I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I decided to stray from my Kenpo X to attempt Yoga X.

The "X" I discovered really does in fact mean "intense". Of course I knew Kenpo would be intense since it is a full body cardio work-out, but I still felt the X was a silly name attached to all the discs for the sake of the series. However, Yoga X is freakin' hard, people!! The first time I tried it, I could barely make it through the first 20 minutes of the work-out... which is a whopping hour and 45 minutes long. However, I really felt like my inner core was strengthened by even that measly 20 minutes. So I continued to attempt, and re-attempt the Yoga X. While I still can't do the entire disc at once, I've significantly improved and I really feel like it has enhanced my strength and endurance. And while the P90X instructor really doesn't focus on the mental health aspect that yoga claims to also enhance, it really does help clear the mind if you focus on the breathing while timing the stretches with the breathing as instructed. It brings your mental awareness to yourself, your body, your breathing, and brings you to the present moment.

Basically, it all boils down to the following reasons why I advocate for this form of exercise: 1. It's challenging and gives you a real work-out, 2. It builds your core strength and flexibility - which will enhance your overall athletic ability, 3. It can serve as a fabulous form of "you time" to workout your body and mind. So if you are looking for an alternative work-out to add to your routine, seriously consider adding yoga! Ohmm.

As an extra tidbit, if you are curious about yoga, I recommend you purchase a $10 video on amazon before you decide whether or not its something you really want to commit to at a studio. Studio yoga classes are ridiculously expensive and you can get a well guided workout from a video.

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