My One Little Word this year is FINISH. In addition to my monthly intentions for the workshop, I have another phrase with my word that I’m carrying with me: FINISH strong. This phrase is part of my goal to FINISH the year physically stronger than I started it, and is a mantra that helps me finish my workouts.
When I was in high school, I was on the swim team (I was even captain my senior year!). When you race, you always sprint the last bit. You always finish strong. This idea REALLY keeps me going, and repeating it in my mind helps me to not give up when I’m tired and about to meet my distance or time workout goals.
My long-term goal of finishing the year strong includes trying to commit to daily exercise. I’ve already established that I’m not a daily runner, though I’m trying to run a mile a few times a week. I’ll increase that as it gets warmer outside, with the goal to complete a 5K in the fall. I’d LOVE to swim everyday, but it’s not going to happen with my schedule. We have one car, and though Jake’s company has a gym that spouses can use (awesome), I have to drive him to work and pick him up, then I have to try to swim as many laps as possible between the time he gets off and pool closing time at 7. There’s no child care at the gym. Gas is too expensive and it’s too much of a hassle to try and do this often, but I’m trying to get to the gym once a week or so. I’m hoping to start going by myself once a weekend as well.
Anyway, swimming and running are great, but I needed something that I can do daily. And that something is yoga. I started doing a home yoga practice in 2009 using the P90X yoga video (not recommended, but it’s what I had). I kept it up a few months until I was a few months pregnant with Jonas because being upside down in any way started making me very nauseous. And then I forgot all about it. Then last year, I was inspired by Kam’s posts about yoga at Campfire Chic. And I started considering starting it up again. I asked Kam her recommendation for a beginner’s mat, and she suggested the Gaiam Yoga For Beginners Kit. I bought it mid-January, as soon as I could squeeze it into our extra-curricular budget.
I love this kit for so many reasons. Firstly, it’s cheap. Right now, it’s around $24 bucks. That’s a crazy awesome price when you consider that buying the elements of the kit (alignment yoga mat, block, strap, DVD) would add up to about 50 dollars! I also love the mat. Not only is it teal (teal!), it has alignment marks (or as I call them, lines), which help me to get myself straightened out. The lines also help me return to poses in the same way each time. I’ve been trying to find a lined mat for Eliza locally (Gaiam sells at Target), but I’m going to have to go back to Amazon to get her an alignment mat too. I think I’m just going to buy her another kit, because I can’t find the same type of mat individually. I can just gift the DVD to someone else.
As for the DVD, I’m all about it. There’s an introduction to the equipment, which is very helpful (I would have never known to sit on the yoga block without it). I’ve been mostly using the 20 minute Daily Yoga (almost every day since I started!). My goal is to do the AM Yoga each day too. I started today. I love the instructor, Rodney Yee. His voice is soothing, his instructions are really specific and helpful, and the practices sessions are perfect for a beginner. Instead of telling you to hold a position for a certain length of time, he gives further instruction on how to better the position. I love that, because I’m focusing on the pose and not how long I’m supposed to stay that way. I haven’t figured out how to skip the “this is why you should do AM Yoga” spiel to get right to the practice, which is annoying, but I’m sure I can just fast-forward that part. I’m going back to Yee for my next step, and I’m going to buy his A.M. Yoga for Your Week sometime next month to add variety into my practice.
I haven’t purchased anything else. No cute yoga pants or fancy anything. I’ve been just practicing in pajamas or in my underwear. Which is one of the benefits to doing yoga at home.
As for the yoga itself, it’s awesome. I’ve been doing it almost daily since the end of January. My back pain has been reduced, I’ve been sleeping better, and I’ve been much less likely to cramp when I run. I love that I can actually SEE my progress, which is a great motivator for me. I walk on my toes, which does not put the proper stress on the ligaments on my knees, so I’m pretty much useless flat footed. Which is fine for a swimmer, but is horrible for my posture and for running. As a result, a month ago, I couldn’t touch my toes with my feet flat on the ground. I even tweeted about the impossibility of a standing forward bend. But I started off using the yoga block vertically, then moved it horizontally, and now I can do a standing forward bend with straight legs and my fingers on my toes. It’s going to be a long time before my hands are flat on the ground or my head is touching my legs, but that is A LOT of very visible progress in a very short amount of time. Every day, my balance is a little better. I get a little closer to doing positions that are difficult for me correctly. My foot moves up my leg a bit in tree pose. I get closer to touching my heels in camel pose. I’m getting good at poses that I couldn’t do at all in the beginning, like bow pose. I’m proud of the progress and I’m excited about continuing to progress.
As for fitting exercise in when I was previously not exercising daily, for me it was all about finding the right time. And that time is RIGHT after Jonas goes down for a nap. Usually this is when I work, so I was worried about giving up 20 minutes of my work time over. However, my output hasn’t changed at all. I begin work more focused and end up being more efficient. Hooray! I also found quickly that if I put it off even a little bit, I might end up not doing it. I realized that I was worst at getting a practice in on weekends, so I’m more conscious to making sure it happens. If you’re interested in starting something daily, experiment with the times that work for you and try to pinpoint your trouble areas.
I’m really proud of myself for making yoga a priority, and I know it will help me FINISH strong this year.
Have you tried yoga? Do you exercise daily? How do you fit it in?