Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Yoga You, Yoga Me

     Well I suppose I can't use the excuse of "I'm in the middle of a move" anymore as to why I haven't been posting. To answer your question, no...I haven't been moving since February (my last post--about motivation of all things). And no, I still haven't settled yet either. Do you know how hard it is to write about [insert topic here] when you barely have time to think about it? My September resolution, since New Years is too far away, is to follow through with this! Why did I ever stop? 

     Anyway, here we are. I'm lounging with a glass of wine reading about harmful effects of certain everyday chemicals. If you've never done that before, I highly recommend it. That's slightly sarcastic but I'm also kind of serious. If it doesn't light a fire under you then I don't know what will! That's why I've thought up a new approach...fitness isn't just about the physical aspect. It needs to be holistic [I hate using that word]. Body, mind, spirit, ENVIRONMENT <-- thanks to my aforementioned chemical research.      

     I want to be honest with you right now. I started this particular post in July. JULY! But I never got around to finishing it. While it might not encompass all of the above Pillars of Fitness (I just came up with that and I'm not going to Google it to see if someone else thought of it first!), YOGA does focus on the body/mind/spirit aspects. So here we go...

     I always liked the idea of yoga without actually liking yoga. It seemed really great when wealthy, beautiful TV characters could while away a morning by going to the yoga studio followed by a mimosa-filled brunch. Well I decided I would make that my life! Minus the mimosas and brunch in the middle of the week unfortunately.
Unless it's a mimosa...

     Even after that decision, it was slow for me. Not, like, going to the gym itself and getting into yoga was slow. The yoga session was slow. I was so used to the hard and fast lifting or cardio that I didn't think I was really working as hard. I remember one particular day when I did heavy legs before yoga. I was never the same after that...I'd like to see you try holding Warrior 2 for ten seconds after lifting! I almost fell over my legs were shaking so bad. But the more I got into lifting, the more I realized how much I needed yoga for a few reasons.

1) I needed to improve my flexibility to prevent injuries.
2) On my active rest days or lower intensity days, it was nice to do something that would still give me a great workout.
3) It's a good alternative if I can't make it to the gym or the weather isn't cooperating for a run.
4) I wanted something that would relax and re-energize me.

Benefits of Yoga

     The social aspect of going to class every week and seeing the same faces made it rather fun, and I always felt so refreshed afterwards. That's what kept me going. My body was awake; my mind was clear. It wasn't until later that I realized there were all kinds of other benefits to doing it. Lucky me!

1) Increases blood flow, boosts red blood cells, thins blood
2) Boosts immunity
3) Lowers blood pressure and blood sugar
4) Decreases risk of depression
5) Encourages you to relax
6) Helps you sleep better
7) Improves balance
8) Prevents IBS and other digestive problems
9) Reduces stress
10) Builds strength

 Yeah hi...I would like all of those please.

Build Your Inner and Outer Strength

     Yoga is more than just a simple stretching session. A lot of the poses, especially the advanced ones, require strength. You're using slow, controlled movements that need all of your muscle groups to execute. Try holding a handstand for more than a few seconds. It's harder than you think! Even if you're using a wall for support...comme moi. The more you do it, the better your posture, more flexible, and stronger you'll become. Stick with it!

     As for inner strength, as soon as you get on the mat, your focus turns introspective. Let go of everything in your head; clear your mind. Concentrate on your breathing; feel the sense of calm sweeping over your body. It's addictive...in a good way. You practice relaxation, tune out the chatter of the world, and become in sync with your body. Listen to it!

 

The Art of the Pose

     I know there's a lot to take in with this post, but there's so much great information that I can't resist. Below I've included a few of the common poses and what their health benefits are. If you're suffering from any ailments, check out the list and see if there's anything you can do!

Eagle Pose

  • Supplies kidneys with fresh blood
  • Relieves neck/shoulder tension
  • Helps prostate problems

 

Balancing Stick Pose

  • Helps prevent cardiac disease, strengthens heart muscle
  • Increases blood flow all over the body
  • Decreases high blood pressure

 

Standing Leg Stretch

  • Increases circulation to the brain and adrenal glands
  • Relieves depression, constipation, loss of memory
  • Regulates thyroid gland

 

Triangle Pose

  • Improves chemical imbalances, immune and circulatory systems
  • Helps with menstrual disorders and fights against obesity
  • Cleanses lymph nodes

 

Shoulder Stand/Headstand/Handstand

  • Strengthens immune system/relieves common cold
  • Benefits nervous system and puts less strain on the heart
  • Strengthens your upper body

     I'm a huge fan of Tara Stiles and all of her wonderful yoga videos on YouTube. I recommend her for any level, any workout. She has particularly great bedtime and morning routines. I promise you will notice a difference! Stronger, less stress, refreshed...ahhh I can feel it now. Give it a try and let me know how you like it!

XOXO,
Fit Dame