This morning I took a yoga class. It was awesome.
But I haven’t always liked yoga. It took me quite some time to get to a point where I actually enjoyed it.
I clearly remember my first yoga class. It was at my gym. The teacher was the stereotypical yoga teacher. You know – Peace, Love and Patchouli. I’m fairly certain she drank chi tea while she made her own deodorant.
During our hour long class, she had us do moves like “The Dolphin” and “Happy Baby” – I’m pretty sure she made that move up. Then, towards the end of the class, she said it was time for shavasana (I had no idea what this was at the time.) She had us all grab a large, wool blanket. We then lay still under the blanket with our eyes closed while she played music with ocean waves and talked about “breathing through our eyes.” As I left the class, I promptly told my husband, “If that is yoga, then I do yoga eight hours in my bed every night.”
To me, a workout just wasn’t a workout unless I was drenched in sweat and out of breath. Boy was I wrong. I just didn’t open myself up to yoga and understand it.
So, fast forward about 10 years. I’ve been weight training for a few years now – moving some serious weight. On top of that, I’m running, jumping and adding in Strongman implement training. That combination is just brutal on the body. The continual beating on your muscles, joints and body is pretty intense. So, I decided to give yoga another look.
As I started to ease into yoga, read about the benefits and really open myself up to it, I began to like it. It’s challenging. You have to focus mentally and physically to perform the moves. And, I could see where each move was opening my joints (especially those tight hips you get from squats and deadlifts.) It was stretching my muscles and lengthening my spine, which usually takes a pounding. (Umm, can anyone say “yoke carry?”)
I took classes from lots of different teachers and studios. And began to learn that not all yoga classes are created equal. There are a million different types of yoga, each with different techniques and areas of focus. I learned that I usually prefer more of a power yoga class, but other times, I just want to focus on stretching and relaxing. Another cool thing about yoga – you go at your own pace. Push it as hard as you want, or take it easier. There’s room to make each move harder or modify it to make it easier.
Since I’ve started incorporating yoga into my fitness routine, I’ve tried aerial yoga, paddleboard yoga, candlelight yoga – I’ll pretty much try any class. (Just FYI – aerial yoga did not make for pretty photo ops.)
When I invite some of my Strongman friends to yoga, I’m always surprised that their number one response is, “I can’t go because I’m not flexible.” Ummm, that’s the dumbest response I’ve ever heard. That’s exactly why you GO to yoga in the first place. That’s the equivalent of saying, “I’m too dirty to take a shower.” Like anything else in life: you have to actually DO it to get better. Plus, let me tell you this – everyone there is so focused on themselves and trying not to fall, that they have no idea what anyone else in the class is doing. Seriously.
Yoga and Strongman training are not mutually exclusive. You don’t have to pick only one. The two actually compliment each other. Check this article out: Yoga & Deadlifts. It outlines a study saying eight weeks of yoga can increase your deadlift by 13%. Um, yes, please.
Let me bottom line this for you — if you’re lifting heavy, you should be incorporating yoga into your training program. You’ll see an increase in weight lifted, stronger performance during competitions and better mental focus.
Sign up for a yoga class. Try it out. If you’re local in Cynthiana, we have some great options for yoga classes. There’s a class every Saturday at The Prizing House at 8:30. It’s $10/class or $8 for BBR Gym members. Also, Down To Earth on Pike Street offers yoga on Thursday nights at 7:00, $12/class.
So, toss out your preconceived ideas of yoga. Give it a shot. Your joints, body and your three lift total will thank you. And, if nothing else, you’ll get a good nap under a warm blanket.