Are you someone who is struggling to find the joy of exercise in the gym? Do you find it boring to stay on the treadmill or elliptical machine for half an hour? Me too.
I was living in the United States at the time, and had was having a hard time coming to terms with the way I looked. I used to watch my food intake, count the calories, and try high-cardio exercises to lose extra weight. I believed that weight training and cardio could give me strength and help me loose a few extra pounds that I was carrying, but the actual act of going to the gym was not easy for me.
I looked at people who were in good shape and wondered, “How do they do it?” “What is it that they have that I don’t have?” I had to push myself to get to the gym, and sometimes when my mind was telling me I should go exercise, my legs carried me in the other direction until all of a sudden I magically found myself sitting on a sofa in front of a TV with a glass of wine and ice cream in my hands.
My Long-Term Love Affair With Yoga
It was only after I found yoga that I realised how fun exercise could be! I came into yoga because I found the physical side of the practice first. It was not until several years later that I felt and appreciated the benefits of the spiritual side of the practice. Like Krishna Pattabhi Jois said, “Practice and all is coming.” At first it might be the physical benefits of the practice that you find, and with time the others will come.
The fun flow of vinyāsa, a deep stretch in the legs during Downward Facing Dog, the burning of the thighs in Utkatāsana, and the continued ability to find a new edge and go deeper with the cues given by the teacher; all this inspired me to come back to the mat over and over again. The feeling of calmness, security, stability, and energy after the practice filled me from the tips of my toes up to the top of my head. I had finally found a way to exercise that I enjoyed doing!
To enjoy the glow of good health, you must exercise.
~ Gene Tunney
We all know that physical activity is important to our bodies to allow them to operate smoothly, be healthy and achieve ultimate energy levels. I’ll be the first to admit yoga may not be for everyone, just like the traditional gym method didn’t work for me, but it is important to find the exercise that works for you. Doing something that you truly enjoy doing is the only way to stay motivated over time and achieve results.
Fall In Love With Your Exercise!
When finding the form of exercise that resonates with you and works for your body, it is important to consider three key elements: strength, cardio, and flexibility.
Strength – Muscular strength is what makes us move. If we didn’t have it, we wouldn’t be able to take a step forward, pick up a green juice from the table, or move our lips to tell a friend about how we feel. When we do not use the muscles in the body, they become dormant and lose their ability to move. Keeping the muscles strong is also important for the stability of the joints that connect our bones together. Healthy joints make the skeleton happy.
In yoga, we often hold poses like Warrior 2, Utkatāsana, Chaturanga and Downward Facing Dog for several breaths. The hold of a shape that is not usual for the body makes certain muscles engage and work harder than they normally do, therefore building the strength.
Cardio – Cardio strength is the strength of our heart. Just like any other muscle in the body the heart needs to be exercised. It works every day since we are born without skipping a beat. When you take care of your heart, it will thank you and care for you in return. A strong heart will take you up a long chain of stairs, to the top of Kilimanjaro or any other mountain you decide to climb.
Not everybody thinks of yoga as cardio exercise, but you will be surprised how quickly you can run out of breath and get your heart rate up when going up and down through a yoga flow! In yoga we mainly exercise the heart through sun salutations and vinyāsas. The majority of yoga practices will have these dynamic elements incorporated into the class.
Flexibility – Flexibility is important because it allows for a full range of motion and prevents injury. Yoga works on flexibility like no other type of exercise. Often people come to yoga because they want to develop flexibility and be able to touch their toes. This happens through holding poses and breathing through the tightness and sensations that come up.
Often we develop flexibility in one muscle along the side of building strength in the opposite muscle. For example in Downward Facing Dog, we engage the quads to strengthen them and lengthen the backs of the legs, hamstrings. Long holds in yin yoga are very effective at getting deep into the muscles, allowing them to relax and release any tension and stress.
Who Else Chooses Yoga As Their Exercise Love?
Do you know anybody who already practices yoga? Ask them how they found it and what is their experience with the practice. Jennifer Anniston and Adam Levine and many other celebrities have been practicing yoga for years and swear by the benefits of the practice. Most of them say that it has changed their lives.
What is your favourite exercise? Share your favourite practice by posting in the comment box below. I would love to hear from you! If you don’t have the exercise that works for you yet, post below what workouts you have tried so far, or you can get in touch with me directly through the links in my bio below!