Ashtanga Vinyasa

I rediscovered yoga a year ago, and I love it.

Years ago, when I first started getting fit, I gave yoga a try. I thought it would be a pleasant and relaxing change from the cardio workouts. It wasn’t. It was bloody hard work and I was too large and too unfit to enjoy it.

So I guess I developed a ‘can’t do that, too hard’ attitude towards it. A year ago, I hurt my back and finally made the decision that I should stop running. Instead, I started doing Body Balance at Les Mills.

Strictly speaking, Body Balance isn’t yoga. It starts with Tai Chi, then does four tracks (about 15 mins) of yoga, including Ashtanga Vinyasa style yoga focused on strength, stretching and balance. Then we do abs and back work, more stretching, and 5-10 mins of relaxation. It’s so good. I’d even go so far as saying it has been transformative for me.

You’re probably assuming I mean that it’s made me calmer, more centred, yadda yadda. Maybe, but that’s not what I mean. People often say to me, ‘oh yoga, that sounds so relaxing!’. It really, really isn’t.

Doing yoga has made me stronger, and it has vastly improved my balance and fitness. Which seems weird to me, because from the outside yoga looks like a bunch of people standing around in funny poses. But it’s incredibly intense. I sweat as much doing 55 minutes of yoga as I do skating or playing hockey. It helps that yoga is done in a very warm room (makes us extra stretchy).

I revel in my new discovery. If I could, I would do yoga every day, but I’m not sure my legs would let me! It’s a goal I’m working towards. As it is, I do 4-5 sessions a week as often as I can. When I can’t get to the class, I have an app on my iPad that takes me through the moves at home.

So there you go, I’m turning into a yoga junkie.

PS if you have never tried yoga and doubt my assessment of its difficulty, try this: stand in the poses in the picture below. Now hold each position for a full minute without moving, but slowly sinking lower into your legs until they burn. Repeat on each side. For 10 minutes.

Voila, yoga!

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