I read this article the other day on Yoga Journal’s website and it really stuck with me. The author talks about how previously in her mind, a “workout” required your heart racing to it’s maximum and falling over with exhaustion at the end of it all. I’ve talked about how I’ve often felt the same way. However, just like her, my mind has shifted since I started focusing on yoga as my main medium for activity.
Yoga may not be as intense of a “workout” in the typical sense as, say, running at your peak speed or doing boot camp-style drills with your maximum effort. And, yes, there are days when I feel like I need something with that kind of intensity to get rid of any stress or anxious energy I may be holding on to, but I feel like those days have become fewer. Not that that’s bad or good, it’s just how I feel.
My workout regimen used to consist of 3-4 days a week of lifting weights and doing some kind of cardio, which I could spend 1.5-2 hours a day doing. I still do those things, but the major change here, for me, is that I have decreased the time I spend actively trying to exercise… and I feel fine about it. I used to beat myself up if I missed too many days in a row, or if I did 3 days at the gym when I had planned on 4. Sometimes I would force myself to wake up earlier than I wanted to to go to the gym or make cutbacks in my personal time to go to the gym in the evening just so I could avoid that feeling of worthlessness I would experience. I wasn’t doing it because I wanted to, I was doing it because I didn’t want to feel bad about myself. And that’s not good.
When I really think about it, it was that pounding in my chest and sweat dripping from my face that triggered the feeling of accomplishment in me. Because of this, if I didn’t achieve those results, I felt like any work I had just done was basically useless–and therefore, I would feel somewhat useless as well. That’s where the shift in my thinking is. I look inward to see the challenge I’m giving myself and my body and I listen to my entire body for feedback on the results of that. I feel that because I am challenging my body in a new way, I am still getting my workout in. And the feeling of accomplishment I get is so much more than when I was heavily exerting myself. Being able to hold Bakasana gave me a sense of accomplishment I hadn’t felt in any other kind of exercise training I had been doing. That’s why I’m keeping my focus on yoga–because I get a greater sense of self satisfaction out of it than anything else I’ve tried. And that feeling is so good 🙂
Cardio is important for overall health and lifting weights is something I feel enhances certain areas of my body yoga can’t get to as well (hello, sculpted shoulders!). But at the end of the day, I don’t feel bad if I miss a day of working out at all anymore. I know that there is always a reason for my “absence” that day, and that I will do better the next. I’m beginning to find a balance in my life that works best for me. And above all else, I feel great 🙂 And I hope you do something that makes you feel good about yourself as well.