Susan and Molly Try…Yoga

Susan and I are not exactly the most coordinated pair. We decided to try yoga because, honestly, we did not think it was going to be difficult. It seemed like it was going to be a great alternative to a strenuous workout while still getting the same benefits. We were wrong … completely wrong. About five minutes into the workout, we were collapsing on the floor screaming, “Are we done yet!? I can’t do this anymore! The human body isn’t meant to bend that way!” With a little bit of patience and persistence, we were able to master a few of the positions. We found the only alternative yoga provides is an alternative to a traditional workout.

Tips: I generally have a problem remembering to breath when I’m working out. I usually get so into what I’m doing that I forget to supply my body with oxygen on a regular basis. Fortunately, breathing in yoga is a specific aspect of the workout. Meditating and focusing on breathing are very important.

I also recommend making sure that you focus on your balance and posture. Move slowly and make sure you correctly do the positions. Incorrect positioning could end up hurting you in the long run.

Skill: Starting out with yoga, you’re going to feel like an idiot. It’s inevitable. Yoga requires an abundance of balance and coordination. Don’t fret – after a few tries you’re sure to get the postures down. However, if you’re chronically uncoordinated, you might want to practice surrounding yourself with pillows because you are sure to fall as some point.

There are so many varieties of yoga for different skill levels. You’re sure to find a program that suits your needs.

Fitness Benefits: Nothing can kick your butt into gear like yoga. The different positions require a sustained amount of work on the parts of your body the position targets.

Fast movement through the positions also will provide a cardiovascular workout. Breathing helps maintain endurance. Overall, yoga provides strengthening, conditioning, toning and incredible cardiovascular activity.

Flexibility also will improve as you continue your practice. Stretching is vital for the positions and you’ll be able to bend in ways you never thought possible.

Yoga also provides a deep sense of meditation. The time taken for yoga really helps to center yourself and relax. By the time you are finished, you are sure to have reached a new sense of clarity and peace.

Injuries: It’s probably difficult for most people to injure themselves while practicing yoga. However, if you have any kind of ailments, you should be aware and take neccessary precautions before practicing. For example, I have a bad back. I noticed certain positions really strained it, so I eased off a little. Make sure to practice the positions correctly, but do not force yourself to do anything painful. Take your time and work up to more difficult positions.

Expense: Yoga is one of those wonderful activities that can cost as much or as little as you’re willing to spend. If you want to check out the various positions, just pop into your Web browser. This site offers a full list of poses and also tells Web surfers the degree of difficulty for each position.
Or, you could take the route Molly and I did and pick up a yoga video or DVD. We used Denise Austin’s “Fat-Blasting Yoga: 21 days to a Yoga Body,” which retails for $13.48 on
Closer to home, you can get live yoga instruction right on campus. All you have to do is pick up a $20 multi-class pass from University Recreation and you’ll be good to go.

Equipment: All you need for a good workout session is yourself and some comfy clothes that allow you to bend and stretch into unflattering positions. I guess you also can use fancy-schmancy stuff like a “yoga mat” or a balance ball. It all depends on the type of yoga you opt to do and how you want to go about doing it.

Athletic Ability: I have shown once again that I am not athletic at all. While trying to follow Austin, I wobbled and fell over. Molly laughed. I cried.
OK, so in all seriousness, yoga is an activity that can be molded to all levels. Molly and I were trying this high-speed power yoga. If you’re a beginner, I highly discourage this. Try a yoga class through University Recreation geared to all levels, including all you novices out there.

Fear Factor: Yoga is not scary. You don’t need to dangle high in the air or try to stay upright on a set of razor blades. There is no hitting, punching or other physical conflict. All the stretching is actually kind of relaxing.
However, Molly and I still had a scare while trying our yoga DVD. Austin is scary. I mean, really scary. The woman is orange and has scary blue eyes that don’t blink. I think she’s possessed and way too perky. Way, way too perky. Try another workout expert for help, and you should be OK.
Also, as briefly mentioned earlier, yoga asks you to move your body into all kinds of funny positions. Unless you have a comfort level with yourself and don’t mind looking a little funny, you might want to give yoga a whirl on your own.