How and Why to Fit In Yoga

Who needs yoga? Probably everybody. How many of us are hunched over a computer all day at work? {raises hand} How many of us are hunched over with our smart phones? {raises hand} How many of us are runners that don’t cross-train or stretch nearly enough?

There is an endless list of the who and why we all need yoga. I started doing yoga on a regular basis due to an injury. I knew my flexibility was atrocious. I’ve always struggled with this. After trying too many different things to even count, desperately trying to find a cure to my knee issues, I turned to yoga. I thought maybe it would help. It couldn’t hurt, right?

I’ve said it before, but yoga is not my favorite thing in the world. I’d like to say I love it because in some ways I do love it. But mostly it’s something I make myself do because I know it’s good for me. I thought I would warm up to it after a year of yoga once a week but not so much. I’m still going because I know it helps my body–even if I haven’t fallen in love with it yet.

Someone said something to me recently that was kind of a lightbulb moment. They were talking about how older people don’t know how to fall and that’s why they fall and really hurt themselves and can’t get back up off the floor. Staying physically fit into your senior years can only benefit you. Ever since that was said to me I’ve wondered, where do I see myself at my grandmother’s age? Will I be able to get off the floor if I fall down? I like to think that when I’m in my 80’s I’ll still be walking, swimming and doing yoga. Gentle things that keep my body moving. That’s my hope anyways.

sideplank

How Yoga Helped Me

As someone riddled with anxiety, I find myself holding my breathe throughout the day. I know this contributes to anxiety but it’s a hard habit to break because most of the time I don’t know I’m doing it. Yoga has helped remind me that I need to breathe. Duh!

My flexibility is improving. It’s not fantastic yet but it’s getting so much better!

The biggest change I’ve noticed is that I have much better stability. Poses that used to make me fall over are now easy. I LOVE Tree Pose. It’s one of my favorites.

My injury has improved. I cannot blame that entirely on yoga. I think the kettle bell training and focused weight training on trouble areas has contributed a lot but yoga has definitely helped.

I feel less anxious. I’m still working on harnessing that peaceful feeling when I leave the class. It’s still pretty fleeting, but it’s there!

How To Fit In Yoga

Making time to do yoga is hard. I get it. It’s low impact, it’s slow, you don’t burn as many calories. I am with you there on that. When I’m used to burning 700+ calories in a kettlebell class or 500+ calories running, burning 200 in an hour of slow moving yoga sounds boring and like a waste of time. I had to change my thinking on this and remind myself WHY I was doing yoga. Focus less on the calories, less on the burn, and focus on the benefits.

The good news is that you don’t need an expensive gym membership or yoga studio pass to do yoga. There are so many cheap and free ways to do it. (Check out this post as a good start: The 5 Yoga Poses You Should Do Every Morning.)

Do some yoga first thing in the morning. Even if it’s just 15-20 minutes of yoga practice, it’s better than nothing and it’s a good start to the day. It might even wake you up! (I don’t know about you, but I still need coffee!)

Get a yoga DVD from the library and practice at home.

Stream yoga videos on Netflix.

Buy a Groupon for a local yoga studio and go with a friend. I found that going to yoga with a friend in the beginning helped me stay motivated. I got to see her and she kept me from bailing.

Go to the yoga class at your gym after your workout. If you still can’t justify spending a whole hour doing yoga, try going to the first 30 minutes of yoga after you’re done working out. Use it as your cool-down/stretch time.

Google yoga videos. Or check out YogaToday – for $10 a month you get unlimited yoga classes. I’m actually considering checking this out because it would be nice to try and fit in some more yoga in between my regular classes.

Learn a few yoga poses and incorporate them into your daily routine. Get into the habit of doing some stretches at work. Sure it might look weird to do downward dog in your cubicle but I bet your back and neck would appreciate it after sitting in front of a computer all day.

It doesn’t have to be a full class. If you can’t commit to an hour long, instructor lead yoga class, do what you can. Start small. With all good habits it just takes time to make them your norm!

How do you incorporate yoga into your life?

Sun Salute to the Solstice

I missed the #fitblog chat on Twitter last night because I was meeting my friend Robyn at the gym for yoga.  I got there early enough to attempt my first run at 2.5 miles!

This is a big step for me because I know that ITB syndrome can flare up again around 2.5/3 mile mark. I have a follow-up appointment next week with the sports medicine Doc and I wanted to be able to give him a report at 3 miles. I think I will fall short of that and only be at 2.75 miles–body willing–but that’s close enough.

I hopped on the treadmill and pounded out 2.5 miles with no incident! I am really happy with that. Towards the end of my run I increased the speed to 4.8.  I did that because I was trying to reach 2.5 before the yoga class started. So I think I pushed it a little too much. Oh well.

After my run (yay!) Robyn and I joined the yoga class. Back in November I was taking yoga pretty regularly (once a week) and was starting to see some improvement in my balance and strength. Yeah….that’s all gone now. I’m starting from scratch again.

Sun Salutation

Yoga felt great last night. The teacher seemed to be focusing on the back. Lots of poses for the back stretch like Camel Pose:

Camel Pose

And Cobra Pose:

Cobra Pose

I need to teach Michael these poses for his back. It’s been hurting him for two weeks now. Poor guy. 🙁

My new favorite yoga pose is Tree Pose. It really puts me at peace.

Tree Pose

I had a good workout and a good time at yoga.

Gym Stats:

Time: 1:38

Calories Burned: 537

Activities: Return to Running Plan, Yoga

I got home from Yoga and Michael was making turkey burgers for dinner.

I celebrate the commercial holiday of Christmas–the tree, Santa, presents, etc. But really in my personal life I celebrate Yule. Yule is the Winter Solstice–also known as the shortest day of the year.

The shortest day of the year usually falls on December 21st or 22nd each year and in turn the longest day of the year is the Summer Solstice on June 21st or 22nd.

Part of the tradition involves burning a Yule Log.  It’s a celebration of the returning sun! Thankfully! And for good luck in the new year.

The other component to Yule is eating a delicious winter dinner–often times I make soup. This year I slacked off. My schedule was just too busy and things didn’t line up like I wanted them to. But Michael made a delicious dinner so I’m going to call that our Yule Dinner.

He made some fries from the last yam we have.

I ate my Bacon Jalapeno Turkey Burger on the last of the onion buns and Michael had his on a Sandwich Thin.

The fries were tasty but on the mushy side. We can’t seem to get the recipe quite right. Any tips?

I’m wondering if we should broil the fries to make them a little crispy before serving them. I’m really baffled at this point.

Michael and I shared some cookies for dessert.

I’m looking forward to starting my 4 day weekend now!

QUESTION: Do you celebrate any other holidays besides Christmas? What is your favorite holiday tradition?