Friday, May 17, 2013

Fitness Friday: Yoga

Everyone is very different with what workouts they like doing, and most importantly, what actually works with their body. I've already shared that my best mix is running and yoga. Running is new-ish to me (the last 3 years) but yoga I have been doing for about 10 years now. I love it and can't get enough. I mentioned it already in a previous post, but one of my most favourite things about yoga is that no matter what is going on in your life or your day, it can absolutely be like hitting the reset button. I find it so calming and relaxing, while giving my body an amazing workout.

Yoga, fitness, health, fitness friday
One of my favourite yoga poses: wheel
People who don't do yoga often refer to it as glorified stretching. It's definitely more then stretching! But if we're going to mention stretching you might as well know when practicing yoga your muscles naturally get stretched in the sense of being elongated, which help you look longer and leaner. Who wouldn't want that?! Many workouts, especially ones involving weights, can stimulate your muscles in such a way that it tenses or shortens your muscles. My answer to that is to recommend mixing yoga in with your regular workout routine. People who don't do yoga also think that it's full hippie talk and deep symbolism... well, it can be depending on WHERE you do your yoga and WHO the instructor is, but it is really up to you to embrace or ignore. You don't need to pay attention to it in order to move through the poses. In fact, ignoring could actually help you enhance your concentration (I just made that up but it sounds right).I tend not to mind it because it can be encouraging or can stimulate different perspectives. BUT sometimes it's just weird and does make me shake my head (on the inside).

A big part of yoga is breathing. Breathing and focusing on your breath. They say focusing on your breath helps you stay in the present - your breath is not in your past nor in present, but in this very moment right now. Yeah, that's one of those "deep" facts, but a fact nonetheless! Another part of yoga is testing your physical limits. Yoga is not "hard" as there are multiple levels to every single pose and you can advance through them or stay within a level that works best for you! Just make sure to listen to your body and know your limits. There are many different styles of yoga but those two elements are always the same.  

I feel like I should mention hot yoga as it's really become huge in the last few years! Studios are popping up everywhere it seems. I think hot yoga is great because it just adds another element to the practice. You essentially work through the class while in sauna-like temperatures. It's not for everyone, and probably not the best way to start yoga, but if you are a fan of yoga I would recommend to give it a try (assuming you haven't already)! Oddly enough my favourite time to do hot yoga is in the summer. I realize that doesn't make much sense, but it is what it is! Like advancing through poses, the most important thing to remember is to listen to your body and if you get to hot, just stop. There's even an "I'm-too-hot-and-need-to-stop-for-a-minute" pose (aka child's pose if you speak yoga speak).  

Final fun fact: at the end of yoga classes is the meditation relaxation. This part of the class has many benefits as well, aside from the meditation and relaxing. Did you know if you do it correctly (clear your mind and resist the urge to move) you can change your metabolism, heart rate, respiration, blood pressure and brain chemistry - all for the better of course! I always think about that when some people skip out on it. I personally also think of it as a great reward for the work that I've just done. 

Have you tried yoga? Is it for you?

Previous Fitness Friday Posts: 
- My Basics
- Running

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