Sunday, May 13, 2012

Yoga - What is yoga and why I started

Yoga - What is yoga and why I started

I joined Lifetime Fitness in Mansfield in October of 2011. My reason for doing so was to get back in shape after I retired from coaching. I had hoped to do some cardio work on the stationary bikes, swim, run on the treadmill and elliptical machine, do some ab work, and occasionally lift weights.

When I first became a member at Lifetime I spent most of my time going to the cycling classes three times a week, an intense ab workout five times a week, and lifting weights four to five times a week. After my favorite cycling teacher moved in February I discontinued going to the class. The other teachers weren’t as good to me; therefore, I needed to find a new workout routine.

I had used the treadmill quite a lot, but it was becoming repetitive to me. Lifting weights is good for building muscle, but too much can lead to injury. So I started looking for alternatives. That’s when I decided I would try yoga.

I have always been agile, but never very flexible. I was hoping it would improve my flexibility. I also thought it would be good for stress relief, and it seemed like a lot of cute girls were going to the classes, and that never hurts.

Like most men, I thought yoga was for girls. It was easy. And didn’t really have any benefits. I really thought it was just standing in weird postures and meditating. I was clueless. I convinced a friend to go with me and see what it was like. It was nothing like I expected.

There are dozens of different forms of yoga. There is vinyasa flow, slow flow, yin restorative, ashtanga, and many more. The most popular forms at Lifetime are the vinyasa and ashtanga, but they do offer others as well.

The first class I went to was a slow flow class. I didn’t really know what that meant, but the other classes had the temperature set to 95 degrees, while this particular class was only 75. That alone made it sound better.

The slow flow class is a series of 12-15 postures that you hold for 3-5 minutes. The objective is to get a deep stretch. The teacher we had was very good and I continue going to her class twice a week even.

Not having any experience didn’t matter, you figure it out as you go. There are even props to assist you if you can’t do something fully, for example, blocks, blankets, and straps. The blocks are good for support, while the blankets are good for padding or elevation and the straps can help you stretch further.

I have been going to yoga now consistently for 3 ½ months and I have to say I love it! I try to go three times a week minimum, usually Monday, Tuesday and Saturday. I recently started going on Sunday as well and I have occasionally gone on Wednesday and Thursday if I missed another day of the week due to conflicts. I am planning to start going a lot more though.

In just a short amount of time I can already tell a huge difference. Not only with my flexibility, but also my upper body strength and my core. Even my legs have gained muscle. In addition to flexibility and strength, it is also great for your mental stability. The breathing technique is extremely helpful, especially if you feel any kind of stress or shortness of breathe. If you just slow down your breathing it can really clear your head. I guess that’s why they tell people that are upset to “breathe.” Next time you get upset slow your breathing down, it will help.

There are a lot of poses that I don’t know and can’t do, but I’m certain that if I continue going to yoga on a regular basis that within a year I will be very good. I am even considering getting a yoga teaching certification.

As a soccer coach I invented a thing called “Tai-Chi Tuesday” as a calming, stretching, meditation for my players, but had I realized the benefits of yoga we would have done it instead. I highly recommend that you get into yoga if you haven’t already. It will build muscle, since you are lifting 75% or your body weight, you will become more tone, and be mentally healthier.

1 comment:

  1. I agree. I have been practicing Yoga for almost a year and have experienced similar benefits: stronger core; increased muscle mass all over; increased flexability and improved balance. I wish I had discovered it sooner.