In March I started collaborating with Studio41 , a privately owned functional training gym with several workouts a week dedicated to make your heart race and help you tone up and loose weight.
I should probably mention that I had not set foot in a gym for at least a decade, when I turned up at my first evening class a little early and was greeted by loud music and sounds that I can only describe as grunts, a few people were standing outside throwing large and heavy objects around dripping with sweat ... My first thought was "Oh my ... this is different ! are they going to like the effort and ease of yoga ?"
Surprisingly I had 12 people at that first class and apart from feedback on the lack of music comments were very positive ... since then I have been frequenting this lovely and friendly studio learning more about the health and fitness industry from the very passionate and dedicated team of individuals who run it and here are 5 reasons why Yoga could be the perfect complement to other physical activities such as bootcamps, hiit training etc...
1) Yoga can be a challenge, no matter how fit you are
The yoga I teach is a blend of Vinyasa , Iyengar and Ashtanga which combine flows , alignment and heat building and no matter how fit you are there will be no hiding of injuries or imbalances, the practice will highlight them to you, in some cases this will support you along the road to recovery in others it will provide your body with new challenges
2) It's all in the breath
Yoga practice should always include some focus on the breath, modern exercise creates effort that accelerates and sometimes hinders the natural breathing process. Yoga brings mindfulness to HOW we breath throughout the practice, inhaling and exhaling ONLY through the nose can be a challenge in itself . Calming the breath after a minute in chair pose will make you very uncomfortable simply because you are thinking about what you are doing rather than letting the breath take over. Try and do that the next time you are lifting weights or pounding the tread mill.
Ask yourself :"how is my breathing ? Could I breath more calmly ? etc..."
3) The "mindfulness" factor
Modern gyms are equipped with all sorts of amenities to take you anywhere but there with your body as you exercise. TVs, radio stations, magazines ... The first thing we do when we step on the yoga mat is to ensure that we are present, right there with our body. We do that by sitting quietly for a few moments and checking in with our breath. Then during the practice we focus on the small details, the position of the knee, the tucking of the chin etc... as that keeps us present and helps us cultivate our mindfulness. Add a little bit of that to your training , whatever that may be and you may be surprised.
4) Letting go takes practice
If you have not been to Yoga before, but you exercise regularly you may get through the postures section of a typical lesson relatively easily except for Savasana, the final resting pose! The most difficult of postures, it challenges all we have known so far about exercise. "How can lying down on the floor be classed as Yoga or exercise ?" I hear you say.
This is the essence of Yoga. Can you truly let go? Can you give yourself permission to just BE? If you can , your body and your mind will thank you for it!
5) Accepting your body and its limits
Gyms and personal training programs thrive on the "no pain no gain" culture that we have long established and for some people this is a necessary part of making radical changes and adopting better habits. In the long-run though this attitude can lead to injuries and ultimately be counterproductive.
The concept of Ahimsa (non-violence) underpins the practice of yoga in respect to how we deal with our physical limitations. If we learn to love our body and accept some of its limitations then we will learn to look after it and keep the good habits whilst dismissing the unhealthy ones.
Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured (BKS Iyengar) .
So if you are thinking of taking up yoga or you are not sure if this is for you, consider the points above and have a go , plenty of classes to choose from, or contact me to discuss a personal plan.
See you on the mat !
Love and Light