There’s nothing I like more than a good “aw wow where was this my entire life” moment and unfortunately, they don’t come by that often. I wanted to share this experience with you because it might help others too who where in a similar place like me not knowing what they are missing out on.
I am into fitness and I tend to exercise 4-5 times a week. My training involves strength training by weight lifting and also High Intensity Interval Training, aka HIIT. I am one of those people who like to “pump iron” as they call it, not because it makes me feel particularly important but because weigh lifting and HIIT, in fact the combination of two, have been the most successful training methods for me. These two training methods have given me the most significant results and the fastest for the goals I aimed for. I like to keep a defined, muscular but yet still feminine physic, and this is what worked for me the best.
I’m not the Yoga type
With the above in mind, you might imagine that I never considered myself a Yoga type of person. And I honestly haven’t. This is obviously a complete stereotype but truth be told it’s how most of us, who are not into Yoga, and definitely the old me, used to think about it.
I lift weights, what is yoga going to do for me?
I don’t have time to just breathe and relax.
I just don’t get it. I don’t see the point.
The whole breathing thing makes me laugh. It’s not for me.
I’m not flexible, I can’t do it.
I’m not a relax type of person.
This is a short list of thoughts or excuses as I like to see them now of things that I thought about Yoga prior to trying it out. These were the main reasons why I haven’t tried Yoga before and I was completely wrong!
Why I ended up trying yoga
So how did I end up trying yoga? Honestly, I was unhappy with how little stretching I did after my workouts, because I found it boring, and I thought that perhaps if I do it in an organised, flow type of way, like Yoga, I might stick to it. So yes, don’t judge me, I saw Yoga as a means of stretching after my workouts and I tried it out. I found a lady on Youtube of which I liked her voice and mannerism and I followed her 30 days of free Yoga programme called “True – 30 Day Yoga Journey with Adriene”.
PS. I don’t know her and she doesn’t know me. This is not a promotion, I’m sharing this because it’s amazing and free and you can benefit from it too, from your home, anytime.
However, it can be any Yoga from and any Yoga teacher, obviously find something that works for you.
I must admit, for the first 3-4 days I just followed the poses and didn’t do the breathing. I thought that it wasn’t for me, I wanted to do Yoga to stretch and be flexible and the breathing just made me laugh. There were many moments were I laughed my way from one pose to another but I committed to completing the entire session every day.
On day 5 things started changing. I started noticing that I’ve been becoming stronger, even though I do strength training with weights, some poses, like downward dog, have been becoming easier. I’ve also felt a little more flexible. I slowly started following the breathing as well, for some poses not all, and I soon noticed how much more relaxed I felt after the sessions.
It all of the sudden wasn’t a joke for me anymore and I started looking forward to it, almost like mental and physical medication, every day.
Even though I lift weights, I do strength training and HIIT, I felt that Yoga did actually help increase my strength, specifically my upper body strength. Obviously not as much as weightlifting does but nevertheless there was an increase in my strength for sure.
I felt more comfortable getting into “flexible poses” even though I do not consider myself flexible at all. Even after 30 days of Yoga, I still don’t think I am flexible but it definitely feels more comfortable than it used to. It’s the kind of thing that you just need to keep practising and trying and eventually you get better and your muscles adapt and get used to it.
The biggest result for me though wasn’t physical. That’s not to say that you can’t get a good workout out of a Yoga session, although that also depends on the type of Yoga. However, if you are lifting weights and working out hard it’s likely that Yoga won’t be a workout for you. This is definitely how I felt and still view my sessions. I didn’t feel that those 30 minutes a day were an extra workout, they were stretching and relaxation for me and that’s actually exactly what I needed.
Interestingly though, Yoga did wonders for me mentally. And that’s a huge surprise for me. I am a strong minded person, I am a scientist after all, I spent all my life training my head and let’s just say, relaxing it has been a challenge. Since I started Yoga, that breathing that I thought was stupid and laughable has actually become a life tool for me. When I’m stressed, angry or annoyed I take myself out of the situations and calm myself down within seconds, by just listening to my breath. It just sounds so stupid to me still but it just works! It’s the kind of thing though that won’t work if you just try it once or twice. It’s a skill and like any skill it needs practice, constant practice.
At some point I stopped doing Yoga for about 2 weeks because life had become too busy and I thought that I have enough “calming and breathing skills” now. Although the calming and stretching skills didn’t leave me they were definitely less effective. Sitting in the corner and following my breath started feeling silly again. I strongly believe that Yoga, meditation and generally relaxation is a skill that is more effective when practised often. Stick to a Yoga or mediation session for a while, even if you find it silly and when you start seeing results, don’t stop!
Finally, I’ve also noticed that my newfound “mastery” of breathing has helped me deal with pain too. And that for me is a real life skill totally worth doing Yoga for. I found myself sitting on my sofa breathing through migraines and they were sometimes even completely gone, but mostly the pain just became more manageable. I’m not saying that you can be pain free with Yoga breathing but you can definitely turn some pains into more manageable ones. Especially with things like headaches and migraines that tend to get worse if you are stressed. Keeping yourself calm, alone can help! Sometimes if you get stressed and give into the pain it can feel even more painful.
Is Yoga a workout?
This has been a question that I have been asking and to be honest with you I haven’t found a definite answer. The reason why I have been asking this question is because I wanted to know whether I should practise Yoga on my workout rest days.
Some say that Yoga is a workout and others say it’s ok to do it on your rest days. It can of course depend highly on the type of Yoga you are doing but the 30 day programme I followed above didn’t feel like a workout to me, likely because I do a lot more intense workouts already. As a result, for my body, Yoga doesn’t feel like a workout and I practise it even on my rest days. In fact, I found that doing Yoga on my rest days have been highly beneficial in recovering faster, as stretching and breathing and getting into all those poses has helped muscle aching disappear faster which meant I was more able to do my weightlifting and HIIT workouts better the day after.
If you are an “exercise beginner” Yoga might be too much for you and perhaps you should avoid it on your rest days. On the other hand, if you do a lot of training like me you might find Yoga as more of a mental exercise than a physical challenge. Listen to your body, it will tell you if it’s too much or just about relaxing perfect.
I was totally wrong. Yoga is for anyone who wants to find some strength, stretching, flexibility and more importantly some body-mind relaxation and calm breathing skills. I wish I had stereotyped Yoga less and have tried it earlier in my life. I now practise Yoga on my own, as part of me time in my house after my workouts, even on my rest days. Yoga has become a precious skill that I want to cultivate further.
To all people out there like me, either muscular or not, who thought that Yoga is not for you, give it a try. It might truly not be for you but you will never know until you give it a proper go. Stick with the 30 days and then make a decision. Hope it works for you as much as it worked for me!
Fitness is a very personal thing, we all have different bodies, requirements and biological build which can influence things. What worked for me might not work for you and vice versa, please leave your comments below!
I am not affiliated with any company or brand. These are my views and experiences.
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