Earlier this year, I said that I wanted to try new forms of exercise, and yoga just so happened to be my choice. Now, I never plan on giving up weight training (it is and always will be my favorite form of exercise), however I think it is good to try new things. I was not sure if I would like yoga, or even stick with it when I started it a month ago.
A family member recommended this program to me and it includes a variety of workout videos. Out of everything I saw, yoga was, for some reason, the one I chose to try. I think this is partially because my workouts are often a bit more fast paced and not really relaxing or slow, so I was looking for something different.
At first, I honestly thought that only flexible people could do yoga. I would not exactly use this word to describe myself. I don’t think that I am necessarily stiff though either. Somewhere in the middle… I guess? Anyway, I had my doubts when it came to yoga. I can honestly say that I do like it, but I’ll get to that later.
Some of the many benefits of yoga include: increased flexibility, weight reduction, improved respiration, and increased muscle strength. The benefits however, are not just physical. I feel that this could be said for many forms of exercise. When I work out, it gets me out of my head and it allows me to simply focus on me and my body, which I love. Some of the mental/emotional benefits include: an increase in body awareness, relieves stress, sharpens attention, and calms the nervous system.
A couple of my family members decided to join me for yoga every single day for the month. We would roll out our mats in the living room, and we would set up the program on the TV. The program we chose is a 3 week program; each week focusing on something a bit different. That first week, we focused on foundation. The point of this first week was simply to build a strong foundation for the weeks to come. I was introduced to a ton of yoga poses (most of which I was unfamiliar with). I found that I really liked downward dog, low crescent (and crescent twist), wide legged fold, and reverse tabletop. Some of my least favorites? Chair pose and chaturanga. I have a love/hate relationship with the warrior poses and goddess pose. I also really liked the relaxing poses such as child’s pose and shavasana.
I quickly realized that yoga is not 100% relaxing, at least not for a newbie. It really is a workout, and before I started doing it, I honestly didn’t feel that it was. I found myself out a breath at some points, and I did modify a couple poses at times. The timing of each practice varied, but most of them were around 30 minutes long. I really began to look forward to our evening yoga because it gave me some time to stretch and relax (both of which, I don’t think I do enough).
For week 2, we were focusing on expansion. Something that I learned from yoga is that expansion and length are incredibly important, not necessarily height. Obviously, slouching and hunching is not going to help you in yoga, or in the long run! In poses where we had to reach up or away from our bodies, I would lift my spine and stretch. I became much more aware of my posture and where I was holding tension in my body. I tend to clench my jaw without realizing, and it has led to soreness in my jaw and the use of a mouth guard every single night. I really tried to focus on where I was sending my energy.
It was in this week when we began incorporating some balancing poses. I found that balancing is challenging for me at times, and I’m not going to lie, I got frustrated when I would just topple over again and again. One thing that has always helped me is focusing on an inanimate object. I actually learned this when I used to take dance classes. If you are about to spin or balance, stare at something that is not moving. This tip was very helpful to me in yoga. I did realize that one leg was always easier to balance on than the other (my stronger leg seems to be my right, which makes sense since this is my dominant side).
In week 3, we focused on progression. As the weeks went on, the poses definitely got more challenging. We would hold the poses for a bit longer as well. Throughout the weeks, we would focus on something specific each day. For example, some days we would focus on core, other days we would focus on stretch, and then other days we would do a flow. I really enjoyed flow days because it was pretty much constant movement, which I prefer over sitting still for too long. It was also a bit more challenging.
Once the 3 week program was over, we decided to do it again to see if it would get any easier for us. As I am posting this on my blog, we are currently in week 2 again! I wanted to do this daily for a month before writing about the experience and sharing it with you.
One thing I noticed is that I really struggled to relax. I just recently finished up my junior year of college, so it’s not like I have a ton of work to do. Plus, we’re all quarantining at home. Normal stressors in my everyday life are not exactly present right now, so I don’t know why I found it so hard to just be. I guess what may have hindered my relaxation was the fact that the instructors would talk pretty much the whole time. I was also learning all of the poses as we went, so I had to look up at the screen multiple times. I think that once I know what I am doing, I won’t necessarily need an instructor and I won’t have the distraction.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with yoga. I didn’t really think that I would enjoy it and I even thought that the practice was silly at times. I’ve learned that it isn’t just about stretching or contorting your body in strange ways. It is about letting go of stress, relaxing, and simply focusing on your body. While I do feel a bit more flexible and more aware of my body, I think I still need more time to practice.
I plan on continuing to learn yoga, though I may not do it every single day. I am hoping to learn to relax a bit more, and gain more flexibility. I am glad that I decided to get out of my comfort zone and try something new because it has introduced me to a new form of exercise that I actually enjoy. I wouldn’t say I like it more than weight training though 😉
I always recommend trying new things, especially when it comes to exercise. Sometimes, doing the same thing over and over can get boring and repetitive. I like to change up my workouts from time to time to avoid this. I am excited to say that I can add another form of exercise to my list. I enjoy weight training, HIIT, dancing, hiking, going on walks, and now, yoga.
Go and try something new today, and as always, thank you so much for reading! (And check out my Instagram, @sacchere14 to watch me flow!)