Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Who's your Yogi now?

One of the best parts of my Journey to Wellness has been the opportunity to take some classes at the Fitness Forum.  It has brought some variety to my exercise routine, given me a break from the treadmill, and allowed me to explore other fitness options.  During our fall break at PHS I was able to take advantage of our day off and attend a class that I had been wanting to try, Yoga.

This may seem very out of place for someone who is not at all flexible, but the idea of being able to try and improve my limited flexibility, spend time in an activity that is designed to reduce stress, and learn something new was an intriguing proposition.  It was a proposition that would lead to me find a new exercise that I am beginning to really love.

My first experience with yoga, beyond the Wii Fit yoga program, was at an Indiana Association of School Principals conference when I attended a session on Yoga for Discipline.  The 30 minute session focused on how we can utilize the principles of yoga to help students focus and calm down when in stressful situations.  We learned one position, and really focused on how to control our breathing. This class would be nothing like this.

Class began with the sound of popping cartilage and bone as my sinews, muscles and body bent, twisted and stretched in ways that it hasn't in decades.  The best part, while I was moving into the various positions of yoga and reawakening long ago calcified joints I felt no pain in those muscles.  The instructor was very good at encouraging us to explore the positions, but also to stay within our limits.

The second piece of learning that occurred was that yoga is strenuous.  In my mind I thought of yoga as sitting around stretching and listening to calming music, which did occur.  What I didn't anticipate was how much it pushed my body, how many calories I burned (over 300 based on Fitness Forum's calculations), and how much the warrior pose could make my legs shake from exertion.

Finally my hour of yoga was a fantastic way to get away from all of the daily stresses of life.  Within moments of entering the yoga studio, sitting on my mat and beginning to learn how to focus on my breathing my mind began to empty.  For the next hour, all that was able to penetrate my focus and concentration was the soothing sound of the instructor's voice moving us from position to position and the sound of my breathing as I focused on my practice.  Even the soothing music faded into the background, and no other thoughts from my day were able to penetrate this envelope of calm.  It was rejuvenating and enlightening all at the same time.

Since my first experience with yoga I have returned to class one time (the next week) and it is joining my Saturday morning Body Pump class as a part of my weekly fitness routine.  In short I am learning that while the Fitness Forum is a great place to lift weights, run, swim, or play court games, it is even better when you utilize the structured classes they offer to enhance your exercise routine.  I really can't wait to see what class I can explore next.

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