I love Yoga. There, I said it.
I wasn’t expecting to and the whole reason I started to do it was because I was slowly becoming a living statue. In fact, to make sure I didn’t back down from starting, I spent a bunch of cash on some of the paraphernalia to invest myself in it. From the very first, rather pathetic attempt, I was hooked.
This has come as a massive surprise to me. For more than 25 years, I have exercised very regularly with weights and have also somewhat reluctantly indulged in cardio. I hate cardio. So I have always considered myself a weightlifter. I must place a caveat right here: I am not big. I have never been big. I have small joints and not much propensity to gain muscle. Fat, yes, muscle, no. But that was OK as I enjoyed the challenge of increasing the weights that I lifted along with the mental challenge of getting through a tough workout.
As I have gotten older, it has gotten tougher. I have long given up attempting to add any size but continue to train for health benefits plus to attempt to keep whatever muscle I have gained, and to keep the shape of the muscles. For someone in their mid-40s, I am in better shape than most. The last few years though, I have been training around various injuries, some caused by weightlifting, others caused by just getting older. I was getting used to walking around in pretty much constant low levels of pain as my body gradually seized up.
2017 has been a transformative year for me, as I have mentioned many times on this site. When I changed my diet to a plant-based one, I noticed that a lot of my aches and pains lessened. As part of my transformation, I have opened myself up to try anything to achieve peace of mind, good health and long life. The change to a plant-based diet along with an effort for some kind of awakening lead me toward mindfulness and meditation. It is just a tiny leap from that to Yoga.
Still, it was for pussies, right? WRONG!
I am several weeks into it now and have done pretty much an hour of Yoga every day, getting stronger in certain poses every day. Most of the poses are not easy and use muscles that you just do not use in either every day life or traditional exercise regimens. To begin with, I would regularly collapse into Zion shaped heaps but am now beginning to hold my own. New muscles have appeared on my body and I remain in awe of the control and strength that some Yogis have over their bodies.
Look, I am not saying that a skinny Yoga dude is stronger than a 230lb bodybuilder – I am not an idiot. But, for someone of my build at my stage in life, it is the perfect exercise method. The good thing is, the added strength I have gained in underused muscles has actually helped me with the weightlifting. I guess this makes sense, after all, if a couple of extra muscles can get involved in moving a heavy weight, it will make it that bit easier.
Since starting Yoga, I have become more flexible and have many less aches and pains. I have gone from barely able to bend down to just below my knees to very, very nearly being able to touch my toes. I have also contorted my body into positions I never knew possible. To begin with, I laughed at certain points of the DVD in a “yeah, right” kind of way. Now, I am able to attempt each position and complete most of them I am currently presented with. My posture in general has also improved.
In addition to the strength benefits, there is a calming, meditative side to Yoga. Breathing throughout the movements is as big a part of it as the movements themselves. This creates a sense of wellbeing, as well as the practicalities of helping shift lactic acid from the muscles. Whereas at the end of a strenuous workout with weights or a bike ride I am left feeling exhausted, after an hour of Yoga, I am left feeling invogorated.
Yoga is a physical and mental challenge. In the few weeks I have been doing it, I have noticed a change in my body, the removal of fat from previously stubborn areas and a general, more relaxed vibe. Of course, there were certain prejudices that I had long held that I needed to get around (ie that it is all hippie bullshit), but I am way past that. I get it.
If you have wondered about Yoga whether to enhance other exercise programmes or as a stand alone routine, I would definitely recommend it. Things may change for me but, if I had to pick an exercise style to stick with for the rest of my life – one that I really enjoyed and gave me maximum health benefits – it would be Yoga.
And, for me to say that as a life-long fan of the iron game, is a Big Deal!
PS If you are wanting to know the DVDs I have used so far, this is the one I started with and this is the one currently completely kicking my perkier bottom.