Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Yoga - What classes do I go to?

Yoga - What classes do I go to?

I started going to yoga about 3 ½ months in mid-February. I didn’t know what to expect. I obviously had heard of yoga, and new the basic idea, but I was under the impression that it was mostly meditation and occasionally sitting in strange, twisted poses. As I said before, I was completely wrong.

It turns out yoga is a real workout and is much more than breathing loudly and sitting Indian style for hours. It’s actually more like playing twister. I just thought of that as I was writing this, but it’s very accurate. There is no dotted mat of course or spinning a wheel. Instead the teacher just tells you what to do as you flow through the poses.

I am in no way a pro at yoga, but after just a few months I can see huge results. My abs are more tone, weight loss, and more definition in my arms, back, shoulder, and legs. I also have a clearer mind. I’m sure much of this is due to low stress in my life and the fact that I work out everyday lifting weights, swimming, running, or cycling, playing soccer - not all of those in the same day of course. But I have no doubt that yoga has played a huge part in achieving this.

So what forms of yoga do I do?

Slow Flow

I started out only doing Slow Flow. It’s usually set to 75 degrees in the room and consists of holding poses for an extended period of time. It is great for people who aren’t familiar with yoga and just want a chance to see what it is about. Because you are holding the postures for a longer period of time you are required to stay focused throughout, both in body and mind. It will improve your balance and slowly improve your flexibility. I usually go on Saturday morning.

Yoga Basics

Yoga Basics is basically the same as Slow Flow, but is slightly modified with the help of blocks, props, and straps. Although you can modify any form of yoga. It may have other names as well. The poses are essentially the same as other forms of yoga, but not as intense or fast paced. It is also 75 degrees. It doesn’t mean the class is easy. I still sweat a lot and feel like I got a great workout afterwards. I try to go two times a week, usually on Monday and Wednesday. Although I have recently changed my routine and have started going to a different class on Monday.

Yin Restorative

After I felt a little more comfortable I began going to Yin Restorative. This form of yoga requires the student to hold 12-15 poses for about 3-5 minutes each. It is a very deep stretch. The majority of the poses deal with the lower body. The Yin represents the lower half of the body, while the Yang represents the upper half.

The first time I took the class I had to leave early to go to a soccer game. I could barely run and didn’t know why. I later found out that because the stretch is so deep that it takes time for your body to recover. If you are going to do this form of yoga it should be at the end of your work out, not before. Your body wont respond properly if you try to do any form of vigorous activity without recovery time. It is an important form of yoga and shouldn’t be ignored. I go twice a week if possible, Sunday and Tuesday. I used to go on Tuesday only, but the teacher is very good and it helps me recover from my workouts to stretch in a more focused way.

Hot Yoga/Vinyasa Flow

I recently started going to Hot Yoga, also known as Vinyasa Flow. This class is 95+ degrees. I was nervous about going to the class just based on the heat alone, I also thought it was more for people with experience. After 3 months of practice I decided I would give it a try. It is very strenuous and I am soaked in sweat when I leave. Basically to the point where I feel like I just ran through pouring rain or took a shower in my clothes. I love the class. After just a few times I can see a difference, especially in my legs and abs. A number of the poses require you to keep your abs and legs active, resulting in muscle building and definition. You hold the poses for a shorter period of time, but still long enough that you can feel the burn. As of right now I go on Monday or Tuesday. It’s the type of work out that you probably don’t want to do too often in one week, especially considering all the other classes I take and exercise I do. I have gone back to back days before and it was tough.

If you have been considering doing yoga, hopefully the information above will help you understand which form is best for you and what to expect. There are many versions of yoga with many different names. The main thing is just trying it and seeing which is best for you.

So that sums up the forms of yoga I currently practice. Below is a recap by day of my yoga workouts. It has changed over time, but this is what I will be doing for the foreseeable future.

Sunday Afternoon - Yin Restorative (1 Hour)
Monday Evening - Hot Yoga (1 Hour)
Tuesday Evening - Yin Restorative (1 Hour)
Wednesday Morning - Yoga Basics (1 Hour)
Thursday - None
Friday - None
Saturday Morning - Slow Flow

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