For over a decade I’ve had a weird relationship with yoga. I always suspected it had value, but I never made it a priority. It was something I’d get around to doing later. In the meantime, I’d focus on the real exercise of lifting weights. But every so often, I’d get motivated to start doing yoga again. I’d start with a goal of doing it once or twice a week. Even though I had the DVDs, I never stuck to the goal. The idea of spending 30-45 minutes doing yoga was rarely appealing to me.
Yoga and other mobility routines were sometimes frustrating to me. I had trouble getting into the positions or trouble following the instructions. And then there was the breathing. Whenever I was instructed to inhale was usually the point I was bursting to exhale. Instead of being relaxing, yoga was often stressful. My controlling and goal driven nature that I had used successfully in other endeavors was failing with yoga. But it was never a priority, so it didn’t bother me. Over a decade ago, I did attend a few yoga classes, but I could never keep up. I hated them.
Yoga Shelf photo by txkimmers. YouTube replaces all this.
Then I discovered the book 3 Minutes to a Pain-Free Life, which I have raved about a few times on this blog. A friend of mine mentioned that movements I was doing were classic yoga poses. I was deriving a tremendous amount of benefit from movements that required zero skill, were time efficient and didn’t rely on me timing my breathing. A month ago I decided to revisit yoga. I wanted to get the benefits from the movement exercises that I had experienced with some of the holds.
Knowing how I had failed at every other attempt to incorporate yoga into my exercise routine, I decided to break the goal down into several stages.
- Do a 10 minute yoga routine every day. Firing up a video on YouTube is much faster that loading a DVD. Plus most DVDs start with a few minutes of tedious talking introduction. On YouTube, every time I find a good clip, I add it to my Mobility playlist. The ones I like the best tend to have excellent audio quality and detailed instruction.
- Focus on the large movements first. I’ve noticed most instruction involves a large command, tweaks and then breathing instruction. Trying to get all three right at once has been a sticking point with me, so at first all I care about is the the large movement.
- Once the large movement has been perfected, gradually add in the suggested movement tweaks.
- Lastly and only if everything else is fluid, try and follow their breathing instructions.
- Increase the time and or seek out more difficult movements.
This plan is working for me. I removed the stress of a long time commitment and being perfect on the movement. And I’m not pushing myself into positions beyond my skill level. Thanks to YouTube, I don’t need to pay for yoga classes or even DVDs. I’ve been at it for a month and I’m up to stage #3. Slow and steady. I already feel a lot better. My posture has improved and my movement is more fluid and varied.
* In this post I used the term yoga to describe all slow moving mobility exercise routines. This includes Foundation Training. Also, I’m using the broader definition of exercise, not the one used in the High Intensity Training community.
Nov 22, 2013 — 1:41 pm
I started yoga three months ago when I turned 50 because I won’t be able to run for a while (plantar fascitis) and needed another type of exercise than walking and lifting weights. Always tended to scoff at it, but I am totally hooked and am doing yoga 6 days a week. I think the reason it works for me so far is
1. Never been to a class and probably will never go to one, I don’t really like classes.
2. I mostly do the exercises that I like; if I don’t like an exercise but think it is beneficial, I do it a couple times a week.
3. I keep it very informal. In the morning, in my office, outdoors. No real set “yoga time.” When I’ve done enough for the day, that’s it.
I agree with you about getting the movement down first and focusing on breathing later, though with the balance poses if I am focused on anything at all I fall over.
Once a week I watch the yoga class at the gym while I am lifting weights, though I like yoga a lot the class still doesn’t appeal to me at all, I don’t want to relax I want to exercise.
Nov 23, 2013 — 1:26 am
Yoga and taichi, done both intermittently for the last +25 years. I recommend them for the enjoyment value only except in the case of people that don’t know how to exercise. Those folks will benefit from any physical activity. Anyway, yoga is ultimately all about the flexibility of the back (taichi is about balance). Hope it helps.
Nov 23, 2013 — 10:22 pm
Can you post the links to which yoga to do? there are so many different ones.
Nov 24, 2013 — 10:50 am
@thomas – I linked to “Mobility Playlist” in the post. This is a start. There are hundreds if not thousands of yoga routines on YouTube.
Nov 25, 2013 — 7:33 pm
I’ve practiced yoga semi-regularly for many years but could never motivate myself to do it outside of a class, until I started doing it with YouTube earlier this year. Now I only go to a class occasionally as YT is a cheaper more convenient option. There are heaps of good vids there but I really like Dagmar at Montezuma yoga. She has several different vids, mostly intermediate (eg http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=obLEZDOrRRk ). For total newbies I would recommend going to a good beginners course first to learn the positions and correct alignment, then maybe once a week with YT classes in between, then mainly YT with occasional classes.
Nov 27, 2013 — 7:04 pm
Count me in as a yoga fan. I know it is fashionable (esp in HIT circles) to bash it, say it is unnecessary, etc. This is one of those things where I listen to my body and ignore the latest research.
As I get older, mobility and flexibility are more and more important to me.
I *know* it helps ME with niggles and aches. It also just plain feels good, in combination with strength training.
For me, it is dynamic flexibility/mobility in the morning, and or before a workout. Static stretching/yoga after or later in the day. Almost all of it done in my basement or at the gym after a workout.
All that said, it does pay to be careful. Several years ago I dropped my aggressive vinyasa style classes, and many of the staple asana/flows involved a while back. Down dog, up dog, charuranga, and endless arm balances were murder on my wrist and shoulders. Also I have a neck condition that I was putting in danger when my ego had me doing inversions I know are flat dangerous for me.
What I do now is all modified for my needs. With your self-experimentation, I’m sure you will come up with something right for you. I really doesn’t take much time investment once you develop the habit.
Nov 27, 2013 — 7:05 pm
Wow – lots of typos 🙂 Sorry.
Nov 27, 2013 — 9:10 pm
@Al – I think having a HIT background has made me much more appreciative of yoga. The slow movement. The static holds. The breathing. Once I have more experience with yoga, I’m going to do a post on how it compliments HIT.
Thanks for the warning. I’m still keeping the sessions brief, but consistent.