Yoga. One of those words and “exercises” that I most definitely had a stigma associated with. I grew up with a dad that played college football, preached lifting weights when stressed, and valued the “manly” things in life. Upon his retirement his idea of a retirement party was learning how to lay brick. That’s not to disparage my dad, I think that many men of his generation value those things and many in mine do as well, all that to say I wouldn’t necessarily be excited to tell my dad that I’m really enjoying yoga. Because there’s a stigma attached to it. It’s not just my dad, I had it, many men have this stigma that yoga is for granola hippies. As a runner I always thought that I was just not very flexible. I never worked on it. The few times I had tried yoga I would catch myself getting physically angry with myself during some stretch or balance pose that either hurt or I just couldn’t do. “What am I doing here, I could be our running or lifting” “How much time is left?”. I hated it and was convinced I had no flexibility and my balance sucked. Now, I love it.
In my defense, I do think those classes are too long for beginners to yoga and unless you really catch the bug then it is more likely to turn newbies away vs. making them practitioners. It wasn’t until I found a great 30 minute routine that I started making it a regular part of my week. Yogi’s may scoff at the routine that I use but it got me going and has taught me that I can have flexibility and balance and increased range of motion. The routine I am using is the routine from the P90X3 series. I would still likely struggle in other, longer yoga classes but I’ve been amazed at how much it’s helped and how good it makes me feel. I don’t call it a workout because it’s not training me for my races, I don’t know that it helps prevent injury, and I sure don’t think I’m burning many calories, but I’m shocked at how accomplished I feel at the end of it. When it doesn’t hurt to lean over, without bending my legs, and touch the ground. When I am able to stand on one leg while holding the big toe of the other. And the breathing, it’s got my morning meditation built into it when you are focusing on breathing. I’ve learned that I can have flexibility and it feels good.
I’ve tried other forms of yoga, I love the feeling after completing Bikram, and am by no means an accomplished yogi, but if you haven’t tried yoga or just feel like you aren’t flexible, start. Find a short program that doesn’t piss you off and isn’t too high and mighty in terms of being super embarrassing with the music and mountains, etc. and stick to a program, once a week. I am guessing you will find similar results.