Is Yoga “real exercise”? — You Bet it is!

I had a wonderful yoga class today, and wanted to try to express some feelings, but other than say, wow, yoga feels sooo wonderful, I turned to my daughter who has been practicing longer  and asked her to write a guest post about her experiences with yoga.  Enjoy!

Pulling is the object of stretching

by Kelsey Duke

If you aren’t practicing yoga regularly then you are probably just like I was. Hear me out:

I started running when I was fairly young, about 6 or 7,  which isn’t to say I was health conscious at an early age, just that I was born to health conscious parents who back then were probably considered “exercise freaks.” Running became my favorite and only form of exercise outside of team sports. Running was so ingrained in my routine that I could not fathom burning calories any other way. If I wasn’t running, it wasn’t exercise. Period.

As I got a little older I realized that running, though it was great for my mental health and wellness, wasn’t changing my body the way I wanted it to. At the end of college I found myself about 20 pounds overweight (or more, but I feared the scale that would give me an accurate measurement) and unhappy with my body. Not to mention running had become a chore for me. I wanted to  go running like I wanted to take a 5 hour final exam; I didn’t.

While I was sitting around beating myself up about not wanting to run, something I’d always taken pleasure in, I decided to try hot yoga. Not because I thought it would be a good form of exercise (because as a runner I thought yoga was in the same category as sitting down for an hour)  but because I was bored and it was only $20 for a whole week. What I expected was some relaxing stretching, maybe a nap, what I got was the biggest ass kicking. And the funniest thing was yoga was a totally zen ass kicking. No grunting, no yelling, no loud music. So by the end of it my body was completely exhausted but my mind was calm, awake and alert. This is the real benefit of yoga.

Bikram Yoga is a form of hot yoga that reaches all the major muscles, joints, and organs of the body in a 90 minute class. The heat provides exercise for the largest organ of all, the epidermis (or the skin). While you sweat out toxins you use muscle strength and to go deeper and deeper into each posture, thereby gaining muscle and flexibility while improving balance. The heat also provides a mental challenge similar to that you experience while running. You have to force yourself to focus on the work out, not let your body be talked out of it and attempt to calm your mind.

Yoga not only can improve your body but it can improve your mind-body connection. This is the hardest thing to sell people on because if you’ve never been in tune with your body, it’s hard to imagine what that feels like. But as a reformed runner (I can run for fun again! what a treat!) and still a relatively new yogi, I can tell you the mind-body connection is worth the effort and will improve every aspect of your life.

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3 responses to “Is Yoga “real exercise”? — You Bet it is!

  1. I’ve often thought about trying yoga, but have yet to give it a try. I have finally gotten into running and think I actually enjoy it, but like you mention, I don’t think running regularly is changing my body as much as I’d like. I know yoga would help in that area. Maybe I’ll look into getting a video. You’ve given me something to ponder that’s for sure.

  2. Try it! If you want to do something at home there are really good videos out there. My Yoga Online is a pretty cool option too: http://www.myyogaonline.com/how-does-my-yoga-online-work

  3. My most success with yoga came with the help of the Wii, but I didn’t do it often enough to feel it was making a difference. I tried a DVD my sister gave me, with a man apparently made of a silicon derivative, and ended up using the F word 17 times in 30 minutes as I struggled to contort myself to his specifications.

    What would you suggest an aspiring yogi who is built more like a bulldog or linebacker than a swan or plastic product try to get started?

  4. Almost all yoga studios offer introductory classes for beginners at a really low price. This is the best way to get the basics down so when you join a class, or do a DVD you don’t feel lost or like a bull in a china shop!

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