Sunday, 4 August 2013

Yipee-ki-yoga M----- F-----! (plus bonus progress pics)

I tried yoga for the first time today.

I have to admit that I always associated yoga with skinny girls who have perfect hair and trust funds.  When I was in law school there was a group of girls who used to do yoga in the back lawn behind the library, and I would watch them occasionally while I was supposed to be studying.  Yoga looked very serene, but not like anything I would ever try or enjoy.  I am much more of a lummox who is more suited to strength sports like shot put than anything graceful. 

I know that I have issues with flexibility and balance however, and as I have become fitter, these are things that I want to work on.  At long last, it was time to try yoga. 

Anyone who has ever read this blog knows that I love me some apps.  They are my fitness teaching tool and motivator all in one.  When I wanted to try yoga, it was natural that I would try an app first.  Especially since I didn't know the first thing about yoga.

Today I tried the Yoga Studio app.
This paid app ($2.99 in the Apple App Store) contains detailed instructions and advice regarding how to perform more than 280 different poses, which is a must for a complete non-yoga person like me.  The app also has hours of video with classes of various types, lengths and levels, including Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced classes for Balance, Flexibility, Relaxation, Strength and combination classes in 15, 30 and 60 minute sessions.  The combinations permit quite a bit of customization so that it would be very easy to fit a routine into my schedule no matter how chaotic the week.  And because it is an app, it is perfect for when I travel, because I can do the routines anywhere.  Provided I remember my iPad, of course.

I tried a 15-minute Beginner Combination program.  In a shocking twist, the video has a skinny woman with perfect hair who demonstrates the routine to a soundtrack of relaxing new age music.  The instructions were clear (even for a barbarian like me), and I had very little difficulty following along.

That is not to say that I found it easy to do the routine - - it was actually surprisingly physically challenging, and I even caught myself sweating at points.  For one thing, it turns out that I am even less flexible than I imagined and even basic moves like sitting cross-legged were tough for me - - I had an especially difficult time with moves involving my right side, which has never been as flexible as my left.  Some of the poses I found very physically difficult due to my lack of flexibility (especially downward dog), and I will need to go back and watch how those are properly done to make sure I am not messing them up too badly. 

But I am happy that some of the things that worried me before trying yoga were no big problem - - given my flexibility issues, I was concerned about rolling around on the mat and transitioning from pose to pose, but that was not really an issue.  It only took me losing 136 pounds to be able to handle an introductory 15 minute yoga routine - - yay me.  (!)

The pace of the routine I tried was perfect - - the moves flowed from one pose to another smoothly enough that I never felt rushed, but I always felt that there was enough time in a given pose to get the benefit of the move. 

I have to tell you that at the end of the routine I felt AMAZING.  I felt energized and recharged and vital and all sorts of other positive adjectives.  Although I was checking the clock halfway through (during the downward dog marathon), I was surprised when the routine ended - - the time did fly, and I was a little disappointed when it was over.  And I was especially jazzed that I had completed my first yoga routine - - something I never thought I would ever do in a million years.  Yes, it was only 15 minutes, but I thought it was an accomplishment to be able to work through a whole routine for my first time.

I am sure I will feel the stretches in my joints tomorrow, but for now, I am very happy to have tried yoga.  I loved the Yoga Studio app and I will definitely incorporate it into my workout routine.  Even better, I can see how the different poses will help me to improve my flexibility over time, which is the point of this whole exercise.

On a completely unrelated note, I finally took progress photos for the end of the month:
 Things are definitely coming along.  Comparing to last year at this time:
I really like the way my free weight routine is helping to tone my arms, and I like how everything is tightening up overall.

Now if you will excuse me, I need to look up some cheats for downward dog for the flexibility-challenged.

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