My father once joked that I move in two speeds: fast and stop. While funny, it is also very true. Cognitively, conceptually, I can get on board with yoga because of the many benefits it offers. The lifestyle of yoga, because yoga truly is a lifestyle, creates the amazing opportunity to transform one's life. The reality of it... Let's just say it doesn't fall in my comfort zone.
What I like about yoga:
- Improved balance, flexibility, stability, strength and muscle tone in a short amount of time. Yoga exercises every muscle using body weight as a strengthening tool. Gym class exercises, like sit-ups, only get a few muscles with each exercise; yoga gets more muscles working with less movements. There are even poses that massage the internal organs. While I may not enjoy the doing of yoga, I'm liking the results. After each class, my muscles feel like I did something. After 8 yoga classes, my flabby triceps aren't flapping about and the muffin top is smoothing itself out.
- Modifications allow EVERY body in ANY condition to do yoga. I've got a list of injuries - I discuss the positive side of being a klutz in a different post - that I need to think about and modify the poses for. I've used massage, physical therapy, acupuncture and chiropractics to help manage my pain; I've relied on painkillers to sleep. While all of these are effective at managing pain, the progress gets lost if not maintained. Yoga relieves the cause of my pain by stabilizing and strengthening weak joints. I have the option of fitting a few poses into my day between clients or taking a full class at my favorite yoga studio (Power Yoga of Cape Cod).
- The benefits and principles of yoga and ayurveda apply to all aspects of life. For example, some principles focus on how we use our energy, especially in relationships with others and with ourselves. Other parts of life that yoga improves: quality of sleep, energy level, blood pressure, breathing, circulation, metabolism, immunity, sex, memory, blood sugar... The list goes on and I honestly don't know enough about yoga to expand on it yet.
What I don't like about yoga:
- Yoga moves at a slow pace. I've taken mostly gentle yoga classes because I'm a beginner. While some of the poses are more challenging than others, I still get bored. Although I will note that yoga is deceptive. While I move through the poses, I don't always feel like I am doing anything; after class, my muscles are well aware of the recent activity.
- Stillness. I know the benefits of meditation but the more still my body is, the more active my mind is. Active meditation, like a brisk walk through the woods, will allow my mind to quiet. I get stillness and quiet at work and my mind whirls back and forth from tasks required for managing the business to my current client's condition.
I definitely prefer martial arts to yoga because of the interaction during classes and the faster pace. I force myself to do yoga because I need the strength so I can go back to martial arts, because I recommend it to my clients, and because I know I need to practice self-care. By forcing myself outside of my comfort zone, I will grow as a person.
What is your yoga experience like? Do you have a love/hate relationship with another activity? Share your story below!