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Wait… I Heart Yoga?!

Hello and happy Friday, friends!

I did a glorious hour and half of P90X Yoga X this morning before work, and it inspired me to do a different sort of post to tell you all how I came to love yoga. Because at first… I hated it. And I bet a lot of you might be in the same boat.

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It took me awhile to get into yoga mostly because I felt like if I wasn’t getting a super intense, heart pumping workout, then it wasn’t worth my time. I just didn’t see it as a “real” workout, like cardio or strength training. I am also the most inflexible person ever, and thought this meant I couldn’t do yoga. As a result, I went to a few yoga classes, got bored, and didn’t really ever give it a chance.

It wasn’t until I was living in Prague last year that I really started to “get” yoga. A new English-speaking yoga instructor came to the gym I belonged to, so I decided to go one day, if only for the fact that I’d actually understand what was going on. (In Prague I used to go to exercise classes conducted entirely in Czech. It was actually kind of cool, because not understanding anything makes you really pay attention visually to what the instructor is doing in ways you normally wouldn’t. It can just get a little awkward if they try to talk to you or correct your form, and then all they get is a totally blank deer-in-headlights stare.) Anyway, the American yoga instructor was great, and he taught a faster paced power vinyasa yoga class, which helped with my (initial) boredom problem. The class was also really small, which meant that the instructor spent the time to come around and correct our form, which gave me a lot more confidence in my yoga abilities. I think I was just so grateful to take a class in English that I gave yoga a chance I might not have at home… and I’m so glad I did.

Practicing yoga has a bit of a snowball effect. Once I felt like I was starting to do the poses right and better understand what was going on, I suddenly saw it as a cool challenge to do it even better. I started seeing results in my strength, flexibility, and ability to do the poses very quickly, which only added to the snowball effect. It made me want to continue to improve the poses, understand why we were doing them, and increase my strength and flexibility even further. Once I gave yoga a chance and opened my mind to it, I was able to stop thinking “This is dumb I should be running” and just be present in the moment, focusing on how good the poses felt on my tight muscles and how I could work to improve my form even more. I began to see yoga as anything but a waste of time — it became an invaluable way to clear my mind and relax after a long day of teaching; a warm oasis in the freezing cold eastern European winter; a way to tone up and strengthen muscles all over my body (so much for yoga “not being a good workout!”). And I realized that just because I wasn’t getting a crazy heart pumping workout (although power yoga totally makes me sweat!), it didn’t mean I wasn’t doing something amazing for my body. Our bodies need the stretching and twisting yoga provides just as much as it needs cardio. It just took me awhile to realize that.

Before I started yoga:

…I couldn’t even touch my toes.

—–> Now I can wrap my palms around my feet!

…I couldn’t do a side plank because my wrists were too weak.

—–> Now I can hold an advanced side plank for a full minute!

Yoga makes me feel calmer and stronger; not just during the actual practice, but also in my everyday life. I now view yoga as an opportunity; a time to stop thinking about all the crap I have to do afterwards and just enjoy focusing on strengthening my body, stretching my muscles, and quieting my mind. What more could you ask for?

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Now I want to hear your thoughts:

Do you like yoga?

If not, why? Have I convinced you to give it a try?

If yes, how did you get started? Did you struggle at first like I did?

Stay tuned… on Monday I’ll be doing a giveaway for you to win a beautiful, high quality yoga mat of your very own!

Have a great weekend, everyone! I’m going to a fun blogger meet-up tomorrow… details to come :)

Comments

  1. 1

    Well, I loved it from the first time I did it, but I totally agree with your sentiments regarding the strength it gives you on and off the mat!

  2. 2

    You KNOW I heart yoga! Im glad you have come over to the dark side :)

  3. 3

    I am…correction…was a serious runner for a decade or so. I ran at the collegiate level, didn’t take care of myself well, and ended up with some injuries that STILL haunt me. My theory was, “I might as well eat donuts and cotton candy if I’m not running. Nothing else burns calories.” Turns out, yoga/pilates can be just as challenging and I feel AWESOME and STRONG and CALM as a result :) I feel more confident about my fitness level now than I did when I was running LOTS of mileage and wearing a pants size smaller ;)


    That is awesome, girl! Good for you :) I really love pilates, too. I was able to get into that way earlier than yoga for some reason. It’s such a great core/abs workout! Yoga has really helped me to get better at pilates, too… it’s all about the focus :) -Anne

  4. 4

    Loved your honest and open post about yoga. I too was not all that into it at first. I tended to think if I wasn’t doing something aerobic (running, spin, etc) then I just wasn’t gettitng in a good workout. While I would soon fall in love with hot yoga, I also came to adore the restorative classes. They make you stop, breathe and just be. There is nothing better than that.

  5. 5

    I can’t stand yoga because I have no patiences for it. I have tried in P90x, on the wii, etc. However, I am almost done taking this word religion class and was looking into Buddhism and yoga started to make me give it another shot

  6. 6

    i used to hate yoga too…but then one year we couldn’t afford anything but TV and i started doing it on my carpet (no mat!) with the OnDemand stuff. after week i started to notice a huge change in my flexibility and i was hooked! i love doing it now :)

  7. 7

    I was just like you. I use to hate yoga for the same reasons, but ever since I started running, yoga has a whole new appreciation in my mind.

    Thanks for sharing your story! Have a great weekend Anne.

  8. 8

    I really love it, but like you had a difficult time at first. I actually taught it throughout college and just didn’t feel that I was a good teacher – it was always hard for me to relax my mind. I did see amazing changes in my body because of it though.

  9. 9

    Totally had the same experience with my first couple of yoga classes so I ended up switching to pilates, which I LOVE. But maybe I’ll give yoga a second chance :-)

  10. 10

    This was an AWESOME post :) I definitely am not a yoga fan, but am trying to push myself into doing it so I can become more flexible. I’m too scared to go to a class–it’ll be so embarrassing in front of all the pros.

    Maybe I”ll push myself anyway :)


    I’m glad you liked it! :) And please… NEVER be too scared or embarrassed to go to a new exercise class. Honestly, the only thing anyone is paying attention to in those classes is what they themselves are doing! Everyone has to start somewhere and no one is judging :) I definitely like in-person classes better because a) there’s someone to help you with your form, which is especially important if you’re just starting out; and b) it inspires me to work harder having the energy of the other people around! So seriously… just go! And then tell me how it went :) -Anne

  11. 11
    Jen Robinson says:

    I do find it helps tremendously with my flexibility but I can’t handle it all the time because it IS slower paced (at least the p90x one). Maybe I should try a power yoga or something sometime!

  12. 12

    i love yoga and try to practice at least two to three times a week. yoga has definitely made me a stronger runner. yoga breathing helps keep me calm during long runs and allows me to put the energy where i need it most. i’ve also grown a 1/4″ in height :) hooray for yoga posture!

    That’s awesome! Someone in my pilates class the other day was talking about how she grew, too :) I wonder if I have! :) -Anne

  13. 13

    I love yoga! But I don’t do it much or well. I really want to get into it seriously. I just have to find the time (and the patience!)


    Just pick one or two days a week as your “yoga” (and/or pilates, in my case) day! That’s basically what I’ve been doing :) -Anne

  14. 14

    I too have learned to love yoga more. I am a runner, but have decided that yoga and running are perfect compliments to one another! Thanks for sharing your post- I hope you inspire many more to begin their practice!

  15. 15

    I do like yoga! But I don’t do it often anymore. I’d really like to try Bikram. I used to not be able to touch my toes either but with yoga, it realllly helped me with my flexibility.

  16. 16

    I was definitely skeptical about yoga at first too. I enrolled in a class (for credit!) at my university to check it out and I LOVED it! I like to do more “active” workouts too, but because I was required to be there for class it forced me to relax and enjoy it. I felt so amazing afterwards. Unfortunately I don’t do it anymore because I need a class or something to go to for motivation!
    By the way, good for you for moving out of your comfort zone!!! :) …I’m always so afraid to do that! It’s good to be reminded how wonderful trying new things can be!


    A for credit yoga class… now that’s my type of class! ;) We had to take PE classes in college, too. I did floor hockey and squash, which were a total blast, and “cardio” or something where we just went to the gym and did our own thing, haha. -Anne

  17. 17

    I actually just started doing yoga and have really found a love for it!! My first thought was the same as yours, “I should be running and yoga won’t give me a good workout”, but boy was I wrong! Yoga is HARD!! I am so inflexible and it hurts and is tough! But that’s what makes me really like it, it’s challenging!! I notice you do P90X yoga a lot but is there any other yoga videos/podcasts you like? I really like Polly’s yoga @yogaisyummy.net!


    I really thrive on being in an actual class, so I don’t usually do videos/podcasts that often, but over the snow storm when I was stuck inside for like a week straight I tried the P90X yoga and really liked it! So now I’ve been doing that randomly when I want to do yoga but there isn’t a class at my gym available. I’ll have to check out some other online ones too to mix it up! I really like that the P90X one, after the intense vinyasa flow, does lots of mat stretching and some core work at the end like pilates :) -Anne

    • 18

      Just came across this old post and wanted to throw in yogadownload.com as a source. They have a lot of free 20 minute yoga audio downloads and I love to do a few of these every week for my home practice.

  18. 20

    Love this post! I feel like you used to about yoga. Now I want to give it a second try!

  19. 21

    I really love yoga! I try to practice as much as I can, but I really want to attend classes at a studio where someone can help me with form. The more I run, the more I need yoga! Thanks for spreading the yoga love!

  20. 22

    When I first tried yoga, I hated it as well! I thought it was boring and the instructor spent 20 minutes doing breathing exercises. I said no thanks! It wasn’t until a few years later, a little over a year ago actually, that I tried it again. It was National Yoga day so my YMCA had an intro class (I was always intimidated to go to more advanced classes). I was hooked! I bought a mat and started going about once a week. As the months went on, my practice waivered but then Kath (at KathEats) invited me to a hot yoga class. I thought I would hate it because I hate heat, but it was awesome! Ahh! I love yoga :-) I just don’t do it enough…

    (Woa! Long comment!)

  21. 23
    Adventurer says:

    Great post, Anne, really enjoyed it. Might even get inspired and try it. But can you really wrap your hands around your feet — and not hurt your back or bend your knees? :-)


    You know it! ;) -Anne

  22. 24

    I’ve been practicing yoga for about 5 years now, and the best part about it for me is that I feel like I am improving my strength/flexibility in addition to the bonus mental health calming effects! I’m a big fan of yoga and the who yoga community from Vinyasa to Forest to Power! It’s also great for cross-training with other sports/athletic activities :-)

  23. 25

    Thanks for sharing your yoga story. I didn’t love it at first, but always felt good afterwards and slowly began realizing that I was getting stronger and more flexible. Now I’ve come to love the emotional/spiritual benefits as well!

  24. 26

    Yoga is timeless and all encompassing…you truly can get it all done with yoga.

    Length of spine … core work … focus … balance … deep stretch!!!

  25. 27

    When I saw how great a hatha yogi looked and moved I was inspired to take classes. Because of a foot injury I can’t do high impact workouts so this is perfect for me. For Anne and anyone else….what DVD do you like? Thank you.


    The only yoga DVD I’ve tried is the P90x Yoga X. I really like it! If anyone else has recommendations, please share :) -Anne

  26. 28

    I initially felt the same way about yoga – my previous regimes were hiking and running. I gravitated to running outdoors because I loved the spiritual imagery of running through and past any negative energy or frustrations that bothered me… they literally were eating my dust! I initially started with bikram because the intense heat and sweat felt like a powerful workout. Then I met my first ashtanga series and an amped up vinyasa flow and I am completely hooked! Whatever angst I have going on in my life I can work it out on the mat and I leave that studio feeling full of gratitude. Some days my practice is spot on and I feel stronger and bigger than I believed I could be. Other days, I’m a wobbly, tight mess on my mat. But I keep coming back because each day on the mat, as in my life, is different. Thanks for the post!


    Awesome comment – love the imagery of running through and past negative energy. Thanks for sharing :) – Anne

  27. 29

    I love your Vegetarian shirt in this post. Where did you get it??

    That’s my “Vegetarian* *Except for Bacon” shirt, haha. Check out this post for details on where to get one: http://www.fannetasticfood.com/2010/01/09/you-asked-for-it/ :) -Anne

  28. 30

    You hit the nail on the head with that one. I think many avid exerciser’s are used to having to sweat buckets and get their heart rate up for an extended amount of time for something to feel like a good workout. I fall victim to this a lot. BUT, yoga totally provides something beyond what other workouts can.

    I was a dancer for 20+ years, and I absolutely ADORE yoga for how it makes me feel and think. It centers my mind, and I am ALWAYS sore afterwards. I also view it as an opportunity, because how often do you allow yourself that much “thinking” time. It’s just amazing. :)

  29. 31

    I fell in love with yoga 5 minutes into my first class. I especially enjoy the Sunday evening class I take, it’s slow and heated…pure bliss!

  30. 32

    Great post…
    I just posted this morning on my blog how I was wanting to get into a Yoga practice schedule and you motivated me to go forward with it. I am going to try a new studio tomorrow morning! What type of class has become your favorite (vinyasa flow, hot yoga, etc..)?

  31. 34

    Just discovered your blog via this great post! I play soccer, so I had always thought, “what’s the point of yoga? that’s not a real workout!” But after attending my 2nd vinyasa class (ever!) this morning and feeling my muscles move and stretch in a way that just doesn’t happen in soccer, I’m hooked! Thanks so much for sharing :)

  32. 35
    alice gallant{algall7} says:

    i am 72 and find it hard right now to do any floor exercises. i need to work on my balance, flexibility and co-ordination. is there any yoga poses you would reccomend for me?

    • 36

      Hi Alice! I’d recommend you talk to a trainer in person or attend a beginner yoga class – they’d be able to work with you specifically to figure out what works and what doesn’t, much better than I could online! Good luck and good for you taking the initiative to improve your fitness! :)

  33. 37

    I wish I enjoyed yoga! I am also super inflexible and have a really hard time focusing, so I felt like it was a waste. However, you have convinced me to try it again! Thanks!

  34. 38

    I agree that yoga is a great complement to other forms of exercise. I walk, use an exercise bike and “rider” machine, and lift weights, but I find that I’m not as flexible as I used to be and get achy and stiff after exercising. Recently, I started doing the Firm Power Yoga DVD at home and it’s really helped my flexibility. When I don’t have the energy for something fast-paced, the yoga is quiet and relaxing. And it doesn’t take long, so I have the time for it.

  35. 39

    Couldn’t agree more with your original sentiments – “Why should I be doing this?! I’m barely sweating! I could be doing much more productive exercise right now!” Maybe that’s the issue, right? The fact that there is this constant mindset that we need to go, go, go, and be as efficient as we possibly can… I’ve started to appreciate yoga more for the fact that it gives me a place to NOT have this mentality for an hour of my day…although I do still find I will have “you should be running” mind slips once in a while. This post is inspiring me to keep going – thank you! :)

    • 40

      I definitely appreciate yoga now for the time to NOT be rushed and efficient. It’s such a good de-stresser and so calming, even if it’s a hard class. Have fun!

  36. 41

    I love yoga. I do a lot of other workouts – Barre, Pilates, Bootcamp, Aerobic Dance and power walking. I try to fit yoga into my day 3 or 4 times a week and take one studio class each week. I am envious of your wonderful yoga studios because I live in a small town where we only have one studio and one class per week that fits my needs. I love the look of yoga bodies of all ages. One of my goals in life is to still be practicing yoga into my 90s. I was on a retreat a few years ago with a yoga teacher in her 60s who had the body of a teenager. I keep a beach picture of her from that trip as inspiration on my desk.

  37. 43

    I like yoga but I think I like moving so I gravitate a bit more to Tai Chi. Both address similar things but in different way. Both of these disciplines take a back seat to my boxing, cycling, and running though.

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