“Please God. Let this end. I swear I’ll be good from now on!” This was my exact thought the first time I took a Yoga class. I was bargaining with my creator 45 minutes into the 75 minute class the same way I used to after I got in trouble when I was younger. I kept checking my watch as the seconds dragged on and the torture continued. My body had never bent, contorted, strained, or sweated like it did on that first day of Yoga. I couldn’t breathe. My legs were shaking. I had to hold on to the wall next to me so I didn’t fall on to the nice ladies calmly performing the flow next to me. It was a humbling, ego deflating experience. The crazy thing about all this unbearable abuse was: I loved it.
I had never been challenged in that particular way before. My body was built from the iron in the gym. I could lift heavy and lift often because that was how my body was trained. Yet, all this physical fitness and constant gym attendance didn’t prepare me for an hour and 15 minutes of holding my body in a sequence of hardcore stretches. There were times in that Yoga class that I just sat down while all the women around me held perfect alignments. I, with all my strength, endurance, and knowledge, was defeated by a hot room and some body weight holding positions. I was stunned by the difficulty and intrigued by the proposed benefits of incorporating a regular Yoga class into my fitness regimen.
There is a misconception that surrounds the art of Yoga. When I mention a Yoga class, I often hear responses like: it’s “just for women”, its “girly”, “go do a man’s” workout”, or “where’s your sports bra?” This is so sad because all those guys who knock the art as being beneath them or something that is gender specific are missing an amazing piece of the fitness puzzle. Growth, in all forms, requires an open mind and a willingness to try new things! Yoga has the ability to enhance your flexibility, core strength, joint strength, and mental toughness. An hour long class can make you activate your hips like never before, hold planks way longer than you ever dreamed possible, or force you to perform a hand stand against a wall. All this while your brain is screaming at you to stop the carnage.
Yoga is not just for housewives or board college girls. It is for everyone. It is an art form that can improve your mental and physical functions in and out of the gym. The more flexible you are, the more dynamic your lifts can be and the risk of injury from weight training decreases substantially. The stronger your joints get, the more weight you can hold. Just by knowing you can make it through an hour of warrior poses and constant leg tension, prepares you to handle the strain of a crazy intense cardio session or long day at the office. Yoga is a way to build a more effective body that can perform at a more optimal level. It is a simple addition that might just be the missing link in your fitness regimen.
Stop being such a girl! Get a Yoga mat, learn some awesome stretches and how to breathe, test your body, and gain insight into what strain your brain, as well as your body, can truly handle. I have come to believe that the way to becoming a completely fit individual is through a diverse array of stress. Putting yourself through a variety of different workouts and physical disciplines is the best way to build a holistic, functionally fit body. I dare you to try just one Yoga class. I am willing to bet that your perspective will be much different when you crawl out of the studio!