(originally posted as part of BlogHer’s Good-Health-A-Thon).
Several years ago I made a point of tuning to the Oxygen channel each morning at 8 am., and giving myself a one hour workout with their “Inhale” program. When they stopped the 8 am. broadcast, I tried to make a go of the 6 am show. Six is just too early for me to be doing downward dog.
If you are unfamiliar with Inhale, it is an hour long yoga workout with Steve Ross – one of the coolest and most flexible yoga masters you’d ever want to meet. The workouts are done to great music- rock, jazz, reggae – and the light atmosphere keeps things interesting.
This is almost my only experience with yoga. I suspect after practicing yogic moves this way -with humor and great music- I would find something missing in a traditional yoga studio. However, my gym does offer a Sunday morning class that I tried once. Described as yoga, it was really a great stretching class. There was little or no “downward facing dog” – a regularly repeated transition move in Ross’s program. There were very few transitions from standing to floor positions. There was nothing to challenge my (horrible) balance. While it was a great stretching class, I felt it was misnamed as “yoga”.
So how would I would describe a great yoga class? It would be an hour where I tried to move in a flowing natural manner, stretching my muscles and endurance. I would sweat a little at some point; not because of the high cardio demand but because my warm muscles were still being pushed, because my core was being called to keep me solid in a hold. I would feel challenged at times; I would get out of my head and find that calm center where I simple am.
Afterward, I would feel both refreshed and energized.
This description holds a lot in common with any other exercise routine I undertake. I weight train 3-5 days a week and love the metabolic boost I get from heavy iron. I do hard cardio 3-4 times a week, and love the lowered heart rate and increased endurance. I do core work and balance training. I’m starting to plan some speed and agility work. All these practices make me a better me. A healthier me. A stronger me.
One area in which I am sadly remiss is stretching and flexibility. Yet when it comes to functional fitness, the ability to comfortably move through a full range of motion without tightening up is a critical aspect. This is something none of us can truly afford to ignore. If NBA superstar LeBron James relies on yoga to keep himself healthy, can I argue against it?
Yoga is one of the best forms of stretching and flexibility exercise. As much as I hate to admit it, it might be as critical to my overhealth and fitness as the number of pushups I can do. As my favorite yoga guru is as near as my television, I’m going to find a way to work him back into my life. With summer returning with it’s earlier light, maybe 6 am. won’t feel too hard to face.
Some yoga bloggers:
Grounding Thru The Sit Bones Brenda P. shared how going Inverted can and should be fun:
Salamba Sirsana, King of all Asana, the Headstand. I haven’t been doing enough of them lately, but they are so much fun when I do. Why? Because you get to be upside-down. The boys seem to spend at least a third of their time throwing themselves on the floor, heads down, butts up the wall/the back of the couch/the edge of the ottoman. Hilarity ensues. Gales of laughter. The baby does a sort of free-form Uttanasana meets Down Dog, and looks around at it all from that perspective.
Yoga podcaster Hillary Rubin has decided to apply her yoga skills to transform her MS diagonsis into a platform for healing.
Now is the time to take the teachings and apply them as I have to my diagnosis of MS and transform our challenges into opportunities. Tell your friends, family, co-workers and even doctors to come aboard!!!! Ask your questions and see how our coming together will shift how we see diagnosis as a problem into a teacher.
Everyday Yogini Nona Jordan discusses the full experience of life:
Ebb and flow, contraction and expansion, yin and yang- however we choose to refer to it, it is simply life in all it’s glory. Our work is to lean in and be present to the full, rich and unedited, messy reality. It can be difficult to sit with our strong emotions and our life challenges, to not try to wiggle away from the uncomfortable experiences and get back to the good stuff.