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?
19 thoughts on “Gettin’ My Zen On”
Woah I didn’t realize you lived in Arizona- very cool! Besides there, Boston and ATL, have you lived anywhere else in the US? Although I wish I had, I’m still yet to fall in love with yoga…I find it difficult to not think of a 100 different things during! My friend has recently started practicing regularly 3 times a week and keeps urging me to give it another go so between you and her , I may have to! Although I think am going to wait till after Body For Life finishes…otherwise I’ll really kill myself trying to balance everything hehe! Have a great weekend, P!
I grew up in RI and lived there until I was 15. And then it’s been Atlanta, Tucson, Boston, and now Tampa. 🙂
I definitely think you should try it, especially because you’re a runner. For me, yoga is going to take some time getting used to because my mind is always going, but I think over time I’ll find peace (for that hour at least). 🙂
Honestly, with the two hours practice every day, I’m not sure I’d even have the energy left for cardio 😉
Oh yeah, you’re good to go!! But it’s not fair because you’re a pro!!
I’m a wannabe yoggini 🙂 I used to love hot yoga, but now with a baby and no studio nearby, it’s fallen off my schedule. Sad.
Maybe you can incorporate another type. Even if it’s just twice a month – something’s better than nothing!
I can’t get into yoga… I think my personality isn’t “calm” enough or something. I wish I was more patient about it!
See, that’s what I thought, but I really think it’s just about focus and not giving up. Maybe the next time I’m in the A we can go to a yoga class together. 🙂
Which style of yoga do you do? I have been told I really need to do it not only to de-stress myself and work on felxibility/stretching, but also because I “seem like the type” to like the whole mind-body-spirit connection. I’m not sure if I’m scared of not being able to do it…or intimidated…
I’m not sure what kind this was…I want to say just regular but I know that’s not right. Haha. I think you should give a go and see how you like it. If you don’t try, you’ll never know!
Hi, I have just started following your blog and totally agree with you on the Yoga benefits…unfortunately for me if i don’t sweat i don’t feel like i worked out but i have to make more of an effort to get back to Yoga…
Hi there! Thanks for reading! I used to have that mentality too – the more sweat the better. But after Wednesday’s class, my muscles were screaming! So I know it was a good workout.
I tried yoga a couple times, it was so advanced. And I was definitely humbled and embarrassed, all the non-Indian people were able to stand on the hands, and all the Indian people in the class were either overweight or couldn’t do it (such as I). I just did whatever I could, but I was exhausted after. yeah, it’s an intense workout, we so often think cardio will help us lose weight, but we need this kind of strength training too.
You crack me up!!! But you’re right, I would be lying if I said that a thought like that never entered my mind. I was honestly like, “COME ON, PARITA. YOU’RE INDIAN…YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO DO THIS…IT’S IN YOUR BLOOD.” Hahaha.
I love yoga and was nodding my head to everything you wrote there – definitely humbling!! Especially because I have SO MUCH balance issues. It’s quite comical.
And yes – I walked into my first yoga class a little cocky because I was like “I’m Indian!! This will be piss easy!”.
Um, no. One of the hardest things I have ever done in my life!
I think it’s important to find some balance between flexibility, muscles and cardio. I try to go to yoga 2 times a week, to do some cardio twice a week and weight lifting 2/week.
Yoga helps me to decrease the pain in my joint (legs). The weight lifting helps me to have stronger core and legs, the cardio helps me to not put on too much muscles ….
I’m not a very good yogini but I do like my yogadownload.com classes. I just did a 45 minutes class this morning and I feel fabulous! Really, it just tones me right up.
It has helped me enormously with my clumsiness! I swear, I smack into walls much less now.
Yes yes yes! I love yoga, for all the reasons you mentioned and more. Since I’ve started running I’ve found there’s nothing like it in terms of stretching my muscles out and re-balancing both mentally and physically. I still feel like I’ve yet to find my ideal class though – I’ve had some instructors I’ve liked and some that were just okay, but none that I felt were really good. I also really want to try a more challenging class, like a heated vinyasa or bikram, but yoga studios in my area are super expensive and don’t offer drop-in sessions (which I think is ridiculous, how do people commit to an 8 week course without knowing what the classes are like?!)
This is a great summary of why I love yoga too! It’s all about finding the right kind and the right instructor. It’s not just about the positions because I’ve taken classes that don’t give me a workout and feel just like i’m laying around, and then I’ve taken other classes that give me the most intense, sweaty workout. I used to think the breathing was a joke, but as a non flexible person myself, it was amazing to see how breathing and focusing can help me get better! There’s nothing better than the feeling after yoga! Strong and relaxed. It’s probably my favorite type of workout these days!