Tuesday, November 12, 2013

My yoga flip

I'd just like to take this moment to admit I was wrong.

Three years ago, I publicly announced my distaste for yoga and ridiculed most of its practitioners as posers (get it, that's a double entendre!), but in the past year, I have become just the person I once despised.

It's been a long journey, from scoffing when a friend suggested I try it in 2006, to learning some respect for the practice in 2007 through a housemate who did it and yet didn't seem like a show-off or a lemming, to being grudgingly willing to try it on vacation (but still feeling relieved when it got canceled) in 2011, to taking my first class earlier this year, and finally to having used up the 10-class pack I bought on Groupon and feeling sad that it was over.

In those years, I have learned something: I like yoga!

Although it is hard to explain exactly why I like yoga more and more while other exercise programs demotivate me over time (I'm still making better and better excuses to avoid the gym), here are a few reasons that come to mind:
  • It's usually slow-paced, so I have ample time to get my uncoordinated limbs into the right positions (unlike dance, for example, which I've also tried).
  • No pain, no gain, but with other workouts, it is a huge effort to keep moving through the pain. With yoga, when it hurts, all you have to do is stay still. That's so much easier.
  • Unlike other types of workouts where you stretch after you're finished (meaning you're not really finished, are you?), in yoga the stretching is built right in, and you get to end by lying flat on your back and resting. It's such a nice way to tell your body you're done.
Yoga is not the perfect workout. I don't think it burns as many calories as a really vigorous weightlifting session, and I'm sure it's not nearly on the same cardiovascular level as a 10-minute run, but yoga has one huge thing going for it: While other workouts make me miserable, I can go into a yoga class grumpy and come out happy.

And that alone makes it worthwhile for me.

Though some purists would like to make me feel guilty for considering it a form of exercise rather than a more spiritual practice, I like yoga in the form it has taken in America in the 20th Century! A way to work out your body and balance your mind.

Although my 10 studio classes have been used up and I am too cheap to pay full price, I will probably keep doing it at home. Fortunately, there are free podcasts and websites for home-based yoga.

And in the meantime, I've started ice skating lessons, which I also love!