Lifting heavy things is one my preferred activities. I have even made some good progress recently on some my weaknesses despite it being winter and having to walk to the gym. I was nailing morning training 4-5 days a week. It was good. Then my partner picked up some monster plague from work. Typically he suffers while I get away illness free. Not this time. I picked up the monster plague from him and have been a useless lump in bed for four days. A single flight of stairs makes my lungs hurt. But lying about all day also makes my back hurt. Lifting heavy things is often what makes my back feel better. So what is person to do when the preferred form of movement (or any significant movement) is out of the question?
Restorative yoga. Even while horribly sick I can usually manage 20-30 of super slow and gentle restorative yoga. I find it just enough to stave off my back pain until I am well enough to ease back into more active forms of movement.
I have blogged before about how Yoga is not really my thing. I do a bit here and there in an effort to work on my flexibility. Flexibility is that thing I want more of, but personally hate working on. When I am short on time at the gym stretching post workout is the first thing to go out the window. I know all the reasons why this is bad. I know that after a workout when I am all warm is the best time for some gentle stretching. But I just don’t like it. It is boring and I am not very good at it. My attempts at Yoga have always been intended to get me to stretch and spend some time working on flexibility. My thinking always was that maybe I will spend more time on something structured like a yoga class. But I am still really spotty about practicing. There were only a hand full of yoga routines that I found on youtube awhile back that I really liked (all hosted by Colleen Saidman). I have been looking around more more, but I never found others that I liked until just recently. (I don’t have much patience for stuff that is overly new agey.)
I am finding Sara Beth Yoga (see link in Sites I Like) routines very enjoyable. Sara Beth’s routines are short (yay!) ranging from around 10 min to 30 min. This is perfect for me since my attention span maxes out between 20 and 30 minutes. There are a good variety of yoga types, hatha, power, and restorative yoga are all featured. I prefer the hatha yoga routines over the power yoga. Then I tried the restorative yoga. I knew this type of yoga existed, but me with my iron pumping, lift more, work harder mentality I never considered it before. (I mean really a workout with a pillow? What the hell is that?)
I have always had some kind of back pain. Exercise in general has always helped me deal with this. Yoga helped a little more, but the restorative yoga is by far the most. My RMT tells me I have big knot in my left side. I only ever feel said knot when she tries to work it out. The restorative yoga let me relax my muscles enough that I was able to feel for the first time on my own what a problem area my left side is. (It stayed knotted even when I managed to relax the rest of me a respectable amount.)
I was so happy with all new yoga options I found I set myself a mini two week challenge. My challenge is to do 15 min of spinning followed by 15 min of yoga every morning for two weeks. Sara Beth even has a lovely one week yoga challenge posted with a 15 min session for each day of the week. So to keep my challenge simple I am just repeating this twice back to back. She switches up the styles so I get some of what I love, but still have to work on the power yoga that I love less because I am terrible at it. (I lose my balance a lot. It is not graceful or pretty to watch.) In the evenings if my back hurts I can do one of the 20 min deep stretches. (With a pillow! So perfectly appropriate before bed.) I am already noticing that all the hip openers are translating into improved range of motion in my squats. 🙂
Everyone once in awhile a friend asks me to attend a yoga class with her. Yoga is not really my thing. I much prefer to pump iron. I do do some basic yoga at home to work on my flexibility but this is limited to basic poses and I typically don’t spend more than 20min on it at a time. It just doesn’t keep my interest. But I realized this past weekend that what I really don’t like about yoga classes has more to do with the nature of practising in a yoga studio than with yoga itself.
Mainly I don’t like:
1) The migraine inducing incense burning in the lobby.
2) The over crowded studios that result in:
i) getting stuck next to the wall
ii) kicking or hitting said wall
iii) getting up close and personal with a stranger’s foot because they failed to stay perfectly centered on their mat leading into warrior 3
3) It is hard to relax when half the class is blowing raspberries (to relax their jaws???). It just makes me want to laugh.
4) I don’t like being trapped into the long class length. I personally would like to see a 30min class option.
5) The huge variation in how classes are conducted – The other day I nearly jumped out of skin everytime an instructor came and pressed my feet together or pressed down on my hips for some reason. I have never had instructors who do that before. Some warning before they grabbed me from behind in the dark would have been nice.
One of my least favorite parts of training is stretching. I know all the reasons why working on flexibility is important, but that does nothing for making me want to spend time on it. I am terrible when it comes to making sure I have a good stretch after a workout. I don’t like stretching. I don’t like it primarily because I find it boring. I try to get myself to spend some dedicated time on flexibility by fitting in a little yoga in my week, but I suffer the same problem with yoga as I do with general stretching. I am bored to tears 20-30min into a yoga class. After 20min I am looking at the clock every 30sec wondering when it will be over so I can do something else. My brain is no longer in it after 20min. Any benefits to be had from a full hour of yoga are usually wasted on me. So I have instead been trying to do two yoga sessions per week at home and keeping them to 20min. 20min is the magic number for me. I can concentrate on the yoga for 20min and lie down at the end and feel like I had a nice stretch and feel all zen or whatever you want to call it. Going much past 20min and my bored switch goes off and my mind body connection goes on vacation. Who knows, maybe if stick with 20min at a time for awhile I can build my tolerance.