At the end of 2009 a friend alerted me to a LivingSocial offer for a yoga studio not far from me. Most of the studios in Indianapolis are downtown or on the far north side, but this one was only 20 minutes away. It was also a very good deal – 20 classes for $20! We both signed up, and in February I attended my first class ever. And LOVED it. I’ve always wanted to try yoga, but thought it was for skinny-minnies (which I am not). Our yoga instructor is what you might call full-figured, even, but she is incredibly flexible and bendy. But more than anything, she’s just an amazing instructor. She emphasizes attention to what your body CAN do instead of what it can’t, and reiterates over and over (and over) again that yoga class is not the place to bring your ego. It doesn’t matter whether the person on the mat next to you can touch the floor with their nose in Upavistha Konasana – it’s all about that tiny, incremental bit of space you can create for yourself each time you practice. Really, it’s about the breath, and maintaining that breath throughout your practice. We use a sounding breath called Ujjayi Pranayama, or “Conqueror’s Breath”, and one of my favorite times of the week is the start of class when the room fills with that noise.
Anyway, I hate exercise. I joined a gym a few years ago, and I can count on two hands the number of times I went. With all the money I spent I could have bought my own treadmill to have at home, since that was the only machine I ever used anyway. I always intended to use the weight machines, but they were always either in use, or I just didn’t have time. Yoga, though, is something I enjoy, and it’s made me aware of my body in different ways than working out in a gym ever has. For one, it really made me aware of my pelvic floor! Not something we think of in the context of the everyday, but since we practice spending time on our “sit” bones, it has become obvious to me that my core muscles just aren’t strong enough to support me the way they’re supposed to when I’m sitting in proper alignment. Which is why I was so glad to find Katy Bowman’s blog!
I wasn’t familiar with Katy until I found her online, but I will be a fan forever. First, she doesn’t advocate exercise in the traditional sense… according to Katy, if you move the way our bodies were meant to – and move a lot, specifically walking several miles a day – and in proper alignment, your body will work the muscles efficiently enough to keep you toned. And obviously all that walking has cardiac benefits, too. I am ALL. ABOUT. THAT. I can walk. I love to walk. I don’t love to walk in 20 degree weather, but I can do it if I must. Starting now, that’s my plan. Walking, squatting, stretching, and doing yoga. That’s it. No more Jillian Michaels, no more Bob Harper… I want to be healthy and fit, but I don’t want to hate every minute of getting there. Tonight, I started with Katy’s squatting exercises, or more specifically, the squat prep exercises, which are just calf and hamstring stretches. Holy cow! I knew my hamstrings were tight, but had NO idea my calves were also. Hopefully after a few more nights of this I’ll be able to move on to the next prep move. But there is no rush. It’s all about the breath, right?
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