How Yoga Made Me a Wuss

24 Sep

After a blog writing hiatus, I’m returning to my computer. I am now 6 months post hip surgery. I am now able to bike, swim, and even do some jogging. My glutes are stronger than ever due to a somewhat sadistic personal trainer (and my pants barely fit lol). I have even returned to yoga, although my range of motion is still limited on my right side.

During these past 6 months, I have spent a lot of time working on my rehab exercises. I had to vary my workout routine greatly. For the first 3 months, I wasn’t even allowed to stretch and primarily had to do cardio to improve my range of motion gently. Prior to my injury, I primarily relied on yoga for my exercise and did some strength training as well. I thought I obtained enough cardio from this. I mean, I took some of the most bad ass yoga classes around, with instructors like Brock and Krista Cahill, Kathryn Budig, Briohny Smyth, and Dice Iida-Klein. For an example of my teachers, check this video with Briohny. However, a fitness assessment at my gym prior to my surgery revealed that while my strength and flexibility were excellent, my cardio left something to be desired.

As someone who swam competitively through college, I figured this injury was my chance to renew my former love for cardio. Once I was allowed, I diligently spent my time on the exercise bike, in the pool, and on the elliptical machine.  I realized that yoga had made me a wuss. I had become so good at monitoring my breath and backing off the intensity when I was out of breath that I could barely hang in a cardio class, like spinning. While my body was strong from yoga, my lungs and heart clearly were not on board. 

I also realized that it is MUCH easier to stay focused and mindful in a yoga class as compared to cardio, at least for me. Cardio became my opportunity to try to live my yoga off the mat. It was one thing for me to stay focused and present doing sun salutations, which feels good to me. It was totally different to stay mindful and present while trying to push myself to a state of being breathless in a spinning class. That HURTS!!! My mind did not want to stay there. Confession: I got called out in spin class for checking my cell phone. I was so desperate for something to distract me from the pain my body was in.

I am not going to lie… I still do not love cardio. At best it is a love-hate relationship, and it is probably more of something I acknowledge I just need to do. However, some forms of cardio lend themselves more easily to mindfulness in my experience. When I am running or swimming, it is a great opportunity for me to practice my pranayama and stay focused on my breath.

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