I’m kind of an all-or-nothing person. I’m either obsessively clean for two weeks, or completely messy; eating cereal for every meal, or I don’t know what I want; working out for six months straight or I’m canceling my gym membership.
My relationship with exercise has taken the brunt of this mentality. I was on for an entire year — I would go to the gym 5-7 days a week, every week. That was up until I started treating my workout routine as a punishment. I loved running, but if I ate too many sweets that day? I would run 10 miles. Things continued like that for a few months until I could no longer will myself to go running. I finally decided to cancel my gym membership, take an exercise hiatus, and find my ‘thing.’ You know, the one workout that would remind me why I started exercising in the first place.
Six months passed, and I thought, ‘hmm maybe it’s time to start finding my thing again before six more months pass’. So I started with an old favorite — yoga.
We’ll preface this by saying there’s absolutely no harm in working out at home — gyms are not cheap! And some people actually get more done when they work out alone. Whatever your preference is, we are totally on board.
But for the sake of this experiment, I needed something with a group. Something where everyone is in it together, and we’re all working toward the same goal. Something that wasn’t a punishment, but a workout method that would heal my relationship with exercise. So, I committed. Seven days in a row of yoga. No days off, no “my plans overwhelmed my schedule”, no excuses.
I had just lost my contact lenses, so I was wearing glasses and a billowy t-shirt. Unbeknownst to me, I was doing hot yoga — 100 degrees Fahrenheit in a room for an hour, working my body and my mind.
Ten minutes in, and my shirt felt like a blanket that was suffocating me. Thirty minutes in, and I could see my makeup had started to smear down my face. Sweat was getting in my eyes, in my ears, up my nose, in my mouth. It was the most disgusting I’ve felt in a long time, and I loved it. I pushed through every downward dog, every Warrior’s pose and chair pose, every lunge. I felt like Gumby, but maybe it will be easier by day two.
It was not easier today. I did hot yoga again. But this time, I had a game plan. A tighter-fitting t-shirt, no glasses, and hair all the way up.
It was much easier to mentally prepare myself for what I was about to endure. My muscles weren’t really that sore yet, so I could push through my Chaturanga Dandasana.
This time I decided to switch it up. I’m doing yoga-meets-strength-training. I have two 3 lb weights and two 5 lb weights sitting in front of me. It wasn’t nearly as hot, but it was hard. By the end, I could feel my adrenaline kicking in, and it felt so good. I think this one is my new favorite.
I’m starting to feel extremely sore after yesterday’s strength-training yoga. My inner thighs are feeling it, my glutes are feeling it, my arms are feeling it in new and interesting ways. Some of the soreness is in muscles that I didn’t even realize I had.
So, for this class, I had to push myself — hard. It wasn’t easy, but I’m starting to feel like the moves are coming to me a little more naturally. Poses like Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (upward-facing dog) and then moving into a downward dog felt like a no brainer. Warrior 2? With weights? Still hard, but not as hard as Day 1.
Simple things like standing up and sitting down are starting to become so difficult. Going from not having exercised for six months to working out for seven days in a row is starting to really take its toll, and I don’t want to injure myself just as I’m finding a new rhythm. So today, I’m taking a restorative yoga class, instead. And even though it was still hard, it wasn’t as hard on the muscles.
It’s Saturday, and now that I’ve given my body a little bit of time to heal, I’m ready to get back at it. There’s still a little bit of soreness but it’s nothing like yesterday. It’s strength-training yoga once again.
I’m starting to notice that it’s the cardio that really gets me. I see everyone else doing their planks and jumping jacks like it’s no problem, but I just can’t get through all of it. I know no one is judging me, but it’s still stressful being the odd one out.
Then, the instructor starts playing Lizzo, and I’m back in the groove.
And regardless of the cardio mishaps, the moves themselves feel like second-nature. My yoga mat is no longer a borrowed mat, and I’m bringing my own towel and water bottle. Plus I got some new Outdoor Voices gear. I wonder if this is something I want to make my thing? Then again, Lizzo got me dancing. Maybe I should look into a dance class after this?
It’s the last day and I’m so ready to do this that I get there 30 minutes early and fall asleep during Shavasana before class. This class had the hardest cardio yet. Multiple sets of jumping jacks, push-ups, squats, crunches, burpees. If I didn’t know any better, I would think I had accidentally stepped into a crossfit class.
One girl notices that I’m struggling and says, “it’s really hard, don’t worry, it’s kicking my butt, too”.
That’s one thing that I notice about the yoga community. Everyone is there with something weighing on their shoulders. Whether it’s a big life decision or just trying to get through a yoga class every day for a week. And it’s because of this that everyone gives each other a wonderful amount of space, grace, and patience. They don’t point out when you stop, grab a drink of water, or go slower than everyone else. They’re a really great community.
At the end of it all, I’m not sure if I’m going to continue yoga (I think I might try out dance for a while). But if you’re someone that’s afraid of exercising, maybe you have a fear of judgment or maybe it’s that last bit of motivation that makes it hard to leave the house — do it. Push yourself, even if you’re doing it at home. You’ll find a community of wholly respectful and patient people all just learning how to let go a little better than the day before.
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