Mar 3, 2012

Yoga - It's Not for Wimps!

As a fitness enthusiast I had heard of yoga for many years, but for some reason I avoided it.  Like so many others with the same misconception, I thought of yoga as something for my grandmother to do.  It's not high-impact and doesn't include any weights, so I figured it was for those that couldn't do any other type of exercise.  Even though I had heard it was a great exercise, I just wasn't buying it.

Well, about three years ago all of that changed!  I had been trying to motivate my mom into starting an exercise routine - any exercise!  I wasn't having much success, so when she mentioned a "Gentle Yoga" class, I told her I'd go with her in hopes of getting her started.  The class was full of silver-haired women, which was what I had expected.  I was prepared to do just do the class, but not reap any benefits from it.

When the instructor walked into the room, she was also gray-haired yet very slim and toned.  When the lights were dimmed and the music started the instructor proceeded to guide us through very slow movements that required my concentration.  About half-way through the class, I began to realize that I was really enjoying it! Some of the moves were more challenging than I had imagined, requiring endurance, strength and balance as well as controlled breathing.  By the time the class was over, I had stretched and used muscles that hadn't been challenged in quite some time. 

I continued to accompany my mom to these classes for about a year. The only reason that I stopped attending the classes was that I needed to trim my wallet as well.  I started experimenting with other yoga classes through dvd's and on-line videos.  I've not only changed my perception of yoga, but now I love it!  I love the feeling of stretching and challenging my muscles while relieving any tension and stress.

I miss the yoga class with the gray-haired women!  While taking the class, I had often thought how sad it was that younger women and men of any age were not taking part in such a great exercise routine.  I think that so many people, especially men, live with the misconception that I once had regarding yoga.  I'm here to tell you that yoga is not for wimps, not just for women, and it can be a really challenging workout.  There are many types and levels of yoga, and everybody can benefit from this form of exercise.

Yoga is a great way to stretch your muscles, improve balance, relieve stress, and increase muscle strength.  All of these are not only important for women, but men as well.  Men who choose to only focus on building muscle are really at a disadvantage.  In fact, they may even have more injuries due to lack of stretching.  Balance is great for all of us, especially senior citizens that are prone to losing their balance and breaking a bone.

If you want an exercise routine that is low impact and provides a little bit of everything (including cardio in some of the more advanced forms), yoga is a great option.  So go ahead, give it a try.  You'll be pleasantly surprised, and you might have to redefine wimp!


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