Learning to Like Yoga

12 Nov
photo(10)

My trusty yoga mat – maybe I’m also learning to tolerate it because Adam used it to propose. He’s a tricky one.

Yoga and I have long been sworn enemies.

“Wait, I just have to stand there holding that position?!  Where is the cardio?  Where is the high intensity?  I’m bored.  Are we done yet?”

“Hmm, so you’re telling me that I need to just relax and sit there?  And  empty my mind?  How the heck do I do that!?”

and…

“I’m expected to hold positions called ‘downward facing dog’ and ‘tree’ and take this whole thing seriously?  Yoga people are in la-la loosey goosey land”

All of these thoughts have crossed my mind about yoga at one point or another. For many years I had a flat out yoga boycott. “It’s stupid and touchy feely, therefore I will not do it.”  That seemed to be enough for me.  I happily avoided yoga, pursuing other fitness endeavors including running, zumba, or the elliptical. But within the last year, something within me has changed: I have learned to appreciate yoga.  This has been a conscious effort and it hasn’t been without work!  It’s a huge step and honestly, I’m not that upset about it :)  These are some of the reasons I wanted to ‘learn to like’ yoga:

  • It is very complimentary to high intensity fitness.  Doing yoga on my “off” days is perfect.  It allows me to remain active and workout, without too much wear and tear on my body.  I use it for days off from both running or lifting.
  • It can be refreshing.  Once you understand it and know some basics, it can feel very refreshing when you’re done. It took me about 6-8 months to feel ‘refreshed,’ but eventually it happened.
  • I am injured.  Yeah, between my knees and now my ankle, I wanted a form of fitness that I can do despite injury or age.  Yoga rarely irritates my knees.  Yoga FTW.
  • Increased flexibility which helps other things.  Whether it’s running or dancing, increased flexibility can have a positive effect on performance.  I have really enjoyed the new flexibility gained.  Makes me feel less “old” :)
  • I feel like yoga is helping me have a more ‘well rounded approach’ to caring for my body.  Instead of focusing on burning calories and high intensity, I’m giving my body a little love by forcing myself to slow down, stretch, and smell the roses.   All things I need!
  • I can’t run so I need something where I can ‘zone out’ – after months and months finally yoga is that for me.

So how did I do it?  How did I force myself to learn to like yoga?  Well, first of all… it takes time.  And in my case, lots of time.  I didn’t expect it to happen overnight, and frankly I had very low expectations for even liking it at all.  Here’s what I did.

How I Learned to Like Yoga

  1. Start with a DVD.  I started doing yoga out of the comfort of my own home.  I didn’t have to worry about feeling embarrassed in front of a bunch of yogis.  I didn’t have to worry about not knowing what the heck to do.  And for me, this method was perfect.  I could watch the DVD and learn on my own schedule and timing (conveniently could pause it if I needed more time to study a move).  The DVD got me familiar with the lingo and ‘language’ of yoga.  Heck, it even allowed me to laugh out loud at some of the ‘silly phrases’ that can come along with yoga.  What can I say, I’m mature.
  2. Start with a routine.  I did yoga every Thursday.  I just knew it was my yoga day and dang it if it was scheduled, I was going to do it.  I did the DVD as a rotation of other workouts so I was in the habit of working out every day and yoga was just the next one in line.
  3. Mentally prepare for it.  Starting about Wednesday morning I had to start ‘talking myself into yoga’ so I’d be ready by Thursday morning (and wouldn’t press the snooze button).  I would give myself the expectation that I was going to do it and think about all the reasons why I wanted to do it (distress, stretch, flexibility, stamina, mental health). Self talk can be a powerful thing!
  4. Start small.  P90X has a yoga DVD that is 90 minutes long. NINETY MINUTES!  Well knowing my hatred of yoga I knew that just wasn’t a smart way to get me to do it.  Adam and I found a yoga DVD that had 6 different segments that averaged 20 minutes long.  We could do anywhere from 20-60 minutes by combining different segments instead of 90 minutes.  This was my gateway to yoga.
  5. Get a mat.  Making a small financial investment in yoga made me feel more invested ‘in my practice.’ I guess I would liken it to runners buying their first pair of ‘real’ running shoes… just makes you feel like a runner.
  6. Be patient and kind to yourself.  Holy cow those first few weeks months of yoga were frustrating.  I felt like I literally couldn’t do anything. I tried to be kind to myself and constantly reminded myself that this was a journey that would take awhile and benefits would come.  They may take forever, but they’d come.  It took a lot of positive self talk (remembering the why) to get me to return.
  7. Have an accountability partner.  When I first started yoga I had Adam to encourage me to keep going.  And I could encourage him on the days he felt less than enthused.  Now that I’m out of the hating phase, I don’t need one as much – but it was incredibly helpful during those first few months.
  8. Take a class.  When you finally feel ‘ready’ – take a class!  Just a few weeks ago I took my first yoga class after about a year of doing yoga at home.  It was awesome!  I could understand what was going on and while I’m by no means great at yoga, I felt competent at least attempting most of the moves.  In the class I learned more proper technique for some moves and it was very beneficial.

So there you have it – my recipe for success.  I still don’t ‘love’ yoga, but I’ve made huge strides. This morning I voluntarily chose my yoga DVD because I’ve been pretty sore lately due to all the dancing and P90X, and I wanted a low impact workout to take care of my body.  Yep, I wanted to do it.  Crazy things can happen kids.  I guess it’s time to call a truce with my war on yoga.

Hope you’re all having a great week.  Happy Tuesday!

-Kelly

Do you do yoga?  Why?  Any major benefits you enjoy?

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24 Responses to “Learning to Like Yoga”

  1. MikeW November 12, 2013 at 12:44 pm #

    I know many prefer yoga. I don’t, and probably never will. I see benefits there, and respect those who prefer it. Still, I believe yoga is one culture’s approach. I believe that every culture and person has always had access to range of motion, mobility, martial, dance, gymnastic, and comprehensive strength training modes. It is the human body, not one culture, or one ideology, or even specific poses, that sets the standard on what ROM is possible, what level of strength is possible, and what innate combinations of natural breathing are possible to achieve objectives. I only spouted-off cause you asked!

    • kelly @ racesrepsramblings November 13, 2013 at 12:15 pm #

      Agreed! Yoga is just one of the many avenues to get that kind of workout. I agree that martial arts and dance often fulfill the same goals I’m looking for (stretching, stability, balance, etc.) Great point!!

  2. jojo922 November 12, 2013 at 1:01 pm #

    If a local studio offers hot yoga, you should definitely try it! I used to be the same and was kind of half assing yoga classes. But then tried a hot yoga class and never turned back! Definitely works up a good sweat and you really feel the stretching of your muscles!

    • kelly @ racesrepsramblings November 13, 2013 at 12:16 pm #

      I will have to give it a go for sure! Though I have to admit that I’m not quite to the “studio” level yet… the yoga class I take is offered at my work gym. I think studio is the next phase of learning to like yoga ;)

  3. FitnessFatale November 12, 2013 at 2:08 pm #

    I really like yoga sometimes and dislike it others!! Ironically I busted out P90x yoga last night (the whole 95 minutes) and I couldn’t believe how hard it was! When you aren’t doing yoga regularly it really shows. I’m not good at stretching or even relaxing on my own so I like that yoga makes me do that. I used to impatiently hate corpse pose and now I love it. I’ve learned to move with my breath and change my breathing during the poses and it’s made a difference!

    • kelly @ racesrepsramblings November 13, 2013 at 12:17 pm #

      Agreed – it’s such a love/hate thing! So funny you just did Yoga X, that thing is a beast… especially when you aren’t in “yoga shape” didn’t even know that was a thing ;) And I COMPLETELY agree on the whole not being able to sit still… it was so so hard at first, but now I’m learning to appreciate it and it’s actually kind of nice to just lay there haha.

  4. Change of Pace November 12, 2013 at 4:04 pm #

    Love that you like yoga now! I used to have some of the same attitudes about it as you, but now I appreciate what it does for my ailing body! That extra stretching and bending did wonders for my knees.
    I’m going to take your tip of scheduling a day for it. Otherwise I say I’ll do it and then do something else. Thank you!
    Hope you love it one day!

    • kelly @ racesrepsramblings November 13, 2013 at 12:18 pm #

      Hahah those ailing bodies will make you like yoga anytime ;) But agreed… it’s amazing how nice it feels to really take care of your body by stretching and giving it some love. And I do the EXACT same thing on days that I don’t schedule yoga… it’s pretty rare for me to just want to do it. Here’s hoping I can maybe love it someday… let’s just see ;)

  5. emma November 12, 2013 at 4:53 pm #

    I love yoga but it’s definitely all about the teacher. I’ve found a teacher who really fits with my style and that has made such a difference.

    • kelly @ racesrepsramblings November 13, 2013 at 12:24 pm #

      So true! I think I may also really enjoy this class because the teacher is wonderful… it’s a great environment to learn!

  6. Catherine @ A Two Storey Home November 13, 2013 at 9:16 am #

    I so get this! I’m glad you are learning to like it! It took a while for me too, and I still sometimes feel silly when doing it (have you ever done the dead bug pose? That’s a real thing–you lie on your back with your arms and legs up in the air) but I do feel better after I do it… like you said: refreshed and less old. Haha! Andrew and I love our instructor but always laugh at the beginning of class when she asks people walking in, “Is there anything going on with your body today that I should know about?” It’s just such funny wording. Oh, yoga. :-D

    • kelly @ racesrepsramblings November 13, 2013 at 12:21 pm #

      Silly is the perfect word for the whole thing… sometimes I just feel silly hah! And goodness… I have not done dead bug – is this real life?? ;) These crazy yogis. But I’ve gotta hand it to them… I’m starting to get a little addicted to that refreshing feeling when I’m done! I love that your instructor asks what’s going on with your body! Ours does too but not quite as funny… more just “are there any parts that could use extra attention” but she does say plenty of funny things too. Yoga, yoga, yoga…

  7. Lucy @ Lucy On The Lookout November 13, 2013 at 11:35 am #

    Really great tips because from reading lots of fitness/running bloggers, there seems to be a big anti-yoga movement (on similar lines of it being ‘airy fairy’ or boring ;) ) but then it’s great to see that when people give it a go they can feel the benefits – which is the main thing really – why do it if it’s not going to help? Even as someone who does really enjoy it, I can definitely often “turn it down” for something high intensity but I do love returning to the mat and realising actually, some stretching is what I need right now :) Way to go Kelly!

    • kelly @ racesrepsramblings November 13, 2013 at 12:24 pm #

      Glad you enjoyed! And I can definitely relate to the anti-yoga feelings… but sometimes all your body needs is a good old stretch! When you put that much wear and tear on it through endurance sports, it just seems smart to stretch it out and give it some love. I can’t even believe I’m saying all this!! Hah! And speak of the devil… off to yoga class!

  8. Brittany November 13, 2013 at 1:42 pm #

    I’ve found that with yoga, like all other forms of exercise, there are certain classes I LOVE and certain classes I HATE! Just yesterday I went to a “basic yoga” class and left almost annoyed/angry!! Yoga is supposed to be relaxing..but it was sO SLOW and felt like such a waste of my time that I let myself get annoyed. haha. I love flow yoga that is almost constant movement with some poses that are held for longer..it helps with my strength. I also found I don’t like DVD’s at all and I have to go to an actual class. The teacher makes all the difference for me!

    • kelly @ racesrepsramblings November 14, 2013 at 10:33 am #

      You said it… so true. It’s really a love/hate thing. I also find it depends on my mood too.. hahah so appropriate. I have never done flow yoga but I’m guessing that would be right up my alley. When the yoga is uber slow I just want to go crazy… “waste of time” is a perfect way to sum it up! And I’d agree… now that I’ve done a class I enjoy it much more than my DVD. But my DVD was an awesome gateway drug to shake off my embarrassment at doing yoga!

  9. Single-Tracked Mind November 13, 2013 at 7:05 pm #

    I think your tips to learn to like yoga can be applied to anything – have a partner, start small, get the right equipment. Great post!

    • kelly @ racesrepsramblings November 14, 2013 at 10:34 am #

      Glad you enjoyed it! And so true… it really can be applied to any form of fitness (that one may or may not have been avoiding ;)).

  10. sincerelylily November 14, 2013 at 3:13 pm #

    Start small and be kind to yourself. And have a partner who is accountable
    ^
    all of this is such good advice! i have attempted yoga like twice… and i did not start small! the classes were long and i went in with totally the wrong attitude…. happy to hear you are making major strides with yoga. i am sure you body loves you for it ;)

    • kelly @ racesrepsramblings November 15, 2013 at 11:31 am #

      You sound just like me! I tried two yoga classes years ago and it was too much too soon. And I HATED it. But starting slowly and being patient with myself has made a huge difference and I’m really enjoying the benefits.

  11. bayrunnerjamie November 15, 2013 at 8:26 pm #

    Love this post! I have/had all of your reservations about yoga practice as well, but when I’m done with class I ALWAYS feel so much better. My mind will get distracted at times, and a few teachers have been too far out there for me. I don’t have the self discipline to stick to a routine at home so good for you, but I do attend classes at my gym. For me, finding the right teacher helps too, there is an amazing yoga teacher on Saturday afternoon at my gym and his class is always packed. Have you tried Pilates? Definitely my favorite!

    • kelly @ racesrepsramblings November 18, 2013 at 12:17 pm #

      So glad you enjoyed!! And I completely agree.. usually I’m a bit grumpy getting into the class, but feel great when it’s done! And the teacher makes a big difference, when they’re too out there I have to remind myself not to giggle (because I’m mature). I have never tried pilates, but I’m ALWAYS wanted to… I really think it would be more up my alley… but haven’t had an opportunity and haven’t yet made the effort to seek it out. How long are the classes typically?

      • bayrunnerjamie November 20, 2013 at 4:49 pm #

        Most Pilates classes I’ve been to around an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes. I’ve taken reformer Pilates (which is AMAZING but expensive) and those were 45 minutes long. You should definitely give it a try!

        • kelly @ racesrepsramblings November 21, 2013 at 11:16 am #

          Doesn’t sound too bad at all – I will definitely have to look into it. Thanks for the tip :)

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