Has the thought ever crossed your mind to do yoga only to be quickly swept away with the thought of you throwing your back out trying to stand on your head or twisting yourself into a pretzel?
I was among one of those intimidated skeptics feeling like yoga was meant for those who were flexible, in shape, and had some crazy degree of patience that I would never have.
Over the past few months my wife and I have added yoga into our workout routine. We initially used it as a tool to help improve balance and flexibility to support her knee recovery (she had surgery not too long ago). As our yoga practice has become more consistent, I have grown to enjoy my love hate relationship with it.
Here are a few reasons why…
- It’s a physical challenge
No matter how fast I can run or how much weight I can lift, yoga continues to offer a different kind of physical challenge.
- It’s a mental challenge
Yoga is not easy. Typically I look at the 30 minute count down at the start and think “there is no way I can finish this”, but 9 times out of 10 I do. The more I focus on my breath and body movements, the more the time seems to melt away.
- The stretches hurt so good
No matter how many time I do it, the first time I touch my toes during a practice my brain screams “Why?!” but then quickly shifts to “Ahhh so nice”. This back and forth talk happens frequently throughout the movements. In the end, the purpose is to push you just passed your comfort level. Yoga isn’t meant to strain your body, but rather stretch and lengthen it.
- It’s become a stress reliever
At first, it was a bit tough to relax during our yoga practice. The movements felt awkward. Every time the instructor said exhale seemed to be when I needed to inhale. But, eventually, I allowed myself to just go with it. I let myself stop worrying about if I was doing it wrong. I stopped thinking about what I had to do when we were finished. I stopped getting frustrated when I toppled over, and I just enjoyed the quiet time.
In the end, yoga really still may not be for you, but I do encourage you to give it a try.
My two best pieces of advice are: 1. Listen to your body. If the instructor says touch your toes and your hands only make it to your knees, that’s fine! And 2. Be consistent. The best part about being consistent is that it means whatever you’d like it to mean. Commit to practicing once a week in the morning, or join a class and go every day. It doesn’t matter! Just work it into your life in a way that works for you.