In the past year or so, I’ve heard a lot of people say that yoga is the perfect complement to intense cardio. It gives your body the kind of stretching and strengthening it needs, and it gives your mind the kind of peace it needs.
I’m not quite sure why I never incorporated it into my workout routine. Maybe it’s because I never really saw the need. In my mind, the stretching I did after all of my workouts was adequate.
Well, the yoga class I took last night proved me wrong. Big time.
This wasn’t my first class ever. I attended two classes at the YMCA in Phoenix with my aunt when I lived in Arizona, but that was almost a year ago. So for me, yesterday’s class was my first real one because I am now committing to yoga once a week. This doesn’t mean that I’m trying to become a yogini or anything like that. My commitment means that I liked my experience and found it beneficial. Let me explain…
WHY I LIKE YOGA
Yoga is humbling. I’ve mentioned it before…I’m not a flexible person. At all. It’s pretty bad. So to be in a room with eight regular yoga class attending people was a humbling (and sometimes embarrassing) experience. And in all honesty, the turning point came when the instructor made us face the back wall and do a few balance poses. See, I purposely picked a spot in the back of the room, and now, I was in the front. Did I mention that apparently my sense of balance is off too? My tree pose was more like a falling tree pose. Yes, yoga is definitely humbling.
Yoga requires an almost quiet strength. I’m not quite sure how to explain this because my muscles were telling me something different this morning. I guess what I mean is that it’s as much of a workout for the mind as it is for the body but without the grunting and intense sweating. I can’t speak for all yoga classes out there, but the one I went to yesterday required a lot of muscle strength but in a mellow way.
Yoga forces you to trust your body. I’ve found that most exercises require you to do this, but yoga is different because of that quiet strength thing. You really have to think about what you’re doing, your form, the pose itself. For me, there was an awareness present yesterday that usually isn’t around when I’m running, in Zumba, or spinning away. Even though there were times when I wanted to push myself further, I had to stop, think, and trust that my body would do what it could within its limits.
This pretty much sums it up!
WHY YOGA IS BENEFICIAL
Yoga stretches the muscles. And not the kind of stretching I partake in after a run. Only time will tell whether or not I’ll personally see the effects in my running or spinning. Let’s hope so! And apparently all this stretching helps with flexibility. Fingers crossed!
Yoga is a way to strengthen and tone the muscles, all with your own body weight. Trust me, after all the downward dogs and planks yesterday, my muscles were pretty fatigued. And apparently, when done correctly, most poses help build core strength in the abdominal muscles. YES!
Yoga is calming. There was no loud music or apprehension about someone making their way into my space – for me, yesterday’s class was all about me. I put aside any stress or worries from the day and just focused. I focused on my breathing, on my form, and on the way my body felt. This in and of itself was the best thing about yesterday’s class.
I was definitely in my happy place by the end.
A couple of things I should mention about the particular class I attended are that my instructor was wonderful (calm and supportive) and the class size was really small (about eight people total). I think both of those things combined really added to the overall experience. I highly recommend you check out the class first before making a commitment, especially if the cost is not included in your monthly gym fee.
And again, at this moment, the expectation is to go to one class a week. After the wedding, I’ll reassess and maybe go more often, but for now, I want to take it slow.
Yoga is something I’ve been wanting to try for a while now, and I’m glad that I finally bit the bullet.
Are you a yogini? Do you find that it balances the cardio that you do? What exercises do you think complement each other?