I was serious about ballet for the majority of my childhood and teenage years, with some dabbling in gymnastics and cheerleading. When all that ended, I took up coxing and eventually running. So I’ve always been careful to stretch consistently, and can proudly say today that I’m still able to sink into the splits (albeit not as quickly as in my ‘youth’ – I may be a very young adult, but even at 23 I know my gumby days are probably behind me!) I’ve taken a few Pilates classes, and know how to get in a good strength-training workout with just myself and no fancy equipment. Pushups and press-to-not-quite-handstands-anymore, crunches and high kicks – all within my wheelhouse.
But yoga is another story. Friends kept telling me to try it out when I was looking for a way to engage not just physically, but mentally, and to find a calming activity. Instead, I started running. I’m glad I did, and I am definitely more of an outdoors and active person, so it suits me. But in the past year, I decided to give yoga a shot as well.
Yoga was always a little intimidating to me. Not the poses, or the physical fitness required, but the idea of being able to remain so completely still, or in the case of vinyasa flow, to know what to do and in what order. I never thought much about it, but everything has its own language. Unless you speak French, ballet terms probably sound quite foreign – but I grew up with ballet, so it was like a native tongue. Yoga poses were another story. I knew Tree. That’s it.
To allay my fears, I signed up for beginner classes at a few different studios near my apartment. I tried them both, and discovered it wasn’t so difficult. I had to keep an eye on the instructor to know what to do, but I got comfortable with the basic poses. I settled on one studio, House of Jai, because they had a good deal of variety in their vinyasa classes (I have poor circulation and get overheated very quickly, so for health reasons I can’t do Bikram or other hot yoga). They also have a great Community Class a few times a week, taught by a recently-certified instructor at the wonderful price of $10 (I just can’t stomach paying the usual $25 per class as is de rigeur in Manhattan). A couple of times a month, I head on over for a yoga practice that stretches and de-stresses.
And more often than not, I find that starting my day with just ten minutes of yoga can leave me feeling refreshed and ready to run – sometimes metaphorically, sometimes literally! All I need is my mat and foam roller (I’ll do some yoga mixed with physical therapy exercises, as my knee and hip still bother me occasionally) along with my trusty Theraband. I usually just do a few sun salutations and a few minutes of flow through, with some stretches afterwards and a couple of minutes of silence in child’s pose. I’ve tried a few Youtube yoga videos, but I think that my aversion to exercise classes in general kind of carries over here – once I know what I’m doing, I prefer to do my own thing. Whatever works for you is my motto!
There’s a whole 40 days of yoga challenge out there, and that might work for some of you, if you need motivation to get started or keep going! I’m a member of the Sweat Pink network of female fitness bloggers, and in honor of that 40 day challenge, the yoga brand prAna has given us a special offer to share – 15% off all purchases through the end of February, by visiting their website here and using the code leapnpinks15. I usually just wear my running gear to do yoga, but I know that dressing the part can definitely help get you in the right mindset – and I really don’t care what people say, I can and do wear leggings as pants, so yoga bottoms are actually part of my everyday wardrobe. I’m always on the lookout for deals when I need to refresh that wardrobe, because paying full price for Lululemon is a little much for my budget. So check it out – and namaste!
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