Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Why I Like Yoga

I'm not a runner. I never could be. I've tried. It's just too ... tiring. I run out of breath after 40 minutes. My legs don't want to move that fast ever. Every single time I had to run a mile for gym or some statewide fitness test, I was with the two or three kids who had injuries and we walked. I didn't care, really. I was just never meant to be a runner.

But, I always struggled with my weight. My senior year in high school, I started becoming interested in more holistic practices. I had taken yoga as a gym course a few times and really liked that it was something I could do without getting winded or unmotivated. It was easy, slow movement. It made me focus. So, I bought a few books on yoga and began practicing it when I could. It never amounted to much, in terms of weight loss, but I liked having the flexibility and focus.

It took a few years before I really did it for weight loss. I'd go back to it here and there, mostly when I needed a pose to stretch a kink in my neck or back. I ended up losing weight in college because of different combinations every few months of the video game Dance Dance Revolution, Slim-Fast shakes, eating too few calories and nothing but salads, and weight loss pills (I still miss Ephedra, honestly). 

My arsenal.
Following the yoyo-dieting in college, I went into a kick I now refer to as Former Fat Girl Syndrome. I've seen quite a few people go through it when they lose weight. All of a sudden, they are invicible and want to cram everything they felt left out of into their lives. Usually, it ends in crashing. Either that, or the weight comes back on to remind them to stay humble.

Also, none of the tricks in my arsenal proved any long-term success. I got bored with DDR. Slim Fast wasn't easy on my wallet and every time I went to the bathroom, it smelled like Cappuccino Delight. And eating too few calories ended up making me weak and gave me headaches, and once I would let myself cheat a little, there was no turning back. And diet pills, well, the restless nights, the endless cleaning I did from the excess energy, the inability to focus and the jitters were all worth it in my mind. I don't think I could deal with them now. Maybe it was a good thing Ephedra became illegal.

I was slowly regaining my weight after I got married. One January (of course) I went to Target with the gift card and decided to buy a yoga video. I was out of shape and wanted to, at least, do something active in the winter months.

I picked up Yoga Now with Rodney Yee and Mariel Hemingway, a set that had a 30-minute core workout, a 50-minute accelerated workout and a 10-minute morning workout and 10-minute evening workout. I didn't know that set would really be a turning point in my relationship with yoga.

Not only did the workouts include someone doing modified poses for beginners, but this DVD had some aerobic to it to get my heart rate up. But it was still gentle enough that it left me so winded and sweaty, I would need a shower after. I don't like when I have to allot time for a workout and the shower that follows.

From that, I lost about 20 pounds. I added more videos to my collection, did them a few times, but kept going back to the Yoga Now 30-minute core workout as my basic workout. 

I used it throughout the years and have finally come back to it, doing it at least twice a week and rotating it with the other videos I bought. I'm slowly re-working my way through my collection again.

My yoga arsenal.

And, when I'm low on motivation and the scale isn't doing a good enough job reminding me I'm doing a good job and to continue? I customized my yoga mat to help with that.

If you attempt to do this, some tips:
  • Use a Sharpie
  • Write the list where you won't have your sweaty hands or feet on a lot. It will smear.
  • It does help keep you motivated.
  • And, yes, my cats visit whenever I'm on the floor in anyway. Or they just sit and judge me.
"Um, you moved the table to do your weird
bendy thing again.
These types of shenanigans will not be tolerated!"

So, in an experiment, I found out L. likes yoga too! Although she won't tolerate an entire video of it. But if there's ever a chance for her to flip herself over, she'll do it!

But, really, I like yoga as something I save for me-time. I like that I feel comfortable doing it in front of the boyfriend and having fun watching L. attempt it, and, like I said in a previous post, people working out don't look stupid.

But I like being able to take in the entire practice as a chance to connect with my body, my breathing and, as Rodney Yee instructs while attempting Tree position, "It's not about balance, it's about coming out of center, going back to center, coming out of center, going back to center," which I feel like is a good mantra for me to hold onto when I feel like I'm sliding a little bit out of control and need to be reigned in.

One last thing about why I love yoga: Finding the strength physically so I can find my inner strength mentally.

I could look at this photo and find all the flaws.
Or I could look at this photo and see how far I've come.