Top 5 Reasons to Avoid Yoga

No one told me once I started practicing yoga, it would destroy my life. I wish someone had mentioned the potential side effects before I took my first class. But it’s done and I can’t reverse the process. It would be like trying to un-melt a s’more.

If you’ve considered starting a yoga practice, it’s only fair I warn you about what you might experience. I hope you’re more prepared than I was.

  1. All the feels. It’s not that I was heartless, but once I took up yoga I became one of those people who get emotional about shit that never bothered me before. Like the planet and bumble bees and dolphins and other people*. Once you feel that connection, you don’t know how to stop it! It can be super annoying.stripmining
  2. You can’t gossip. Again, I wasn’t a horrible human but I could be judgmental, unforgiving and even mean. Now I can’t imagine being hurtful toward another person*. In fact, I avoid drama altogether. So if you enjoy being a mean girl (or guy), yoga will wring that right out of you. Sorry.
  3. You can’t enjoy food.  You’ll begin to notice how soda makes your stomach hurt or how eating five dozen Oreo cookies leaves you lethargic. Pretty soon you’ll start avoiding those foods because you feel so much better when you don’t eat them. Even worse, you’ll eat foods like spinach and grapefruit and almonds and Greek yogurt. See! Yoga sucks.
  4. You don’t give a shit what people think. As a card-carrying, lifetime membership people-pleaser, it was a tough adjustment to realize other peoples’ opinion of me don’t matter. Once I decided to take away their power to humiliate, shame or degrade me, I had to accept the fact that maybe they were wrong. Which leads us to . . .
  5. You connect to yourself. One day you admit you’re not happy. You admit you treat yourself like garbage. You admit that all those years of negative self-talk have screwed you up. When you realize that, you have to do something about it. And that’s super hard. You have to learn how to accept your weaknesses without criticism, but also accept your worthiness without cynicism. Suddenly your default mode can’t be “skeptic” or “sarcastic.” It’s like re-learning how to walk.maxine

So if that list of side effects doesn’t dissuade you from purchasing a yoga mat and walking into a class, you’re on your own. You’ve been warned.

 

*Donald Trump is excluded for now. I’m not that good at yoga.

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The Sinning Yogi

I guess now there’s  an eighth deadly sin: yoga. According to a Catholic bishop in Nebraska, women who practice yoga are putting their souls at risk while becoming daaaammn flexible.

He calls yoga “a pagan religion based on heathen beliefs.” I guess that explains why every time I practice yoga I get the urge to sacrifice a goat at midnight while eating Ben & Jerry’s Devil’s Food Chocolate Sorbet. I just thought I was menopausal.

drevil

(Hmmm. Riiiight.)

The bishop warns women that regular yoga exercise will place the Catholic faith in danger. And he said it THIS YEAR! 2015! Not 1567! The anti-yoga leader suggests women find different ways to exercise; ways that will not invite the demons of hell to invade our minds and/or bodies.

So what choices do us yoga-practicing she-devils have? If I’m going to exorcise (or exercise) my demons, I guess I’ll have to do something that completely removes my body from the equation if I don’t want to attract Satan and his minions. I suppose sitting properly on a church pew is the best (and most Satan-free) kind of exercise!

And it’s not just yoga I need to stop doing in order to save my soul. I need to stop wearing yoga pants because Beelzebub LOVES it when women wear tight yoga pants. At least that’s what a group of ladies have decided. I guess these naughty sex leggings cause men to have lustful thoughts—so no more yoga pants . (Note to anti-yoga-pants ladies: some men would have lustful thoughts if we wore sofa cushions to practice yoga.)

Really people? Haven’t we gotten past the idea that a woman’s clothing determines her level of evilness? I noticed these ladies haven’t decided to stop wearing bathing suits, shorts, tight jeans or high heels, so I guess it’s just yoga pants that garner the attention of the Prince of Darkness. Good to know.

I thought long and hard (giggity) about these concerns raised (giggity) by the Catholic bishop and these anti-Lycra women. After much contemplation, I’ve decided to continue with my yoga practice that teaches me patience, kindness, forgiveness, love, non-judgement, acceptance and optimism.

And I’m going to find the tightest pair of yoga pants on the planet. Namaste.

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Yoga vs. Cardio Blast

For several years I taught an early morning yoga class on Wednesdays. What a great way to start the day!! Unfortunately, very few people felt the same way–and my class was cancelled. (Death to change!)

But NOW my boss has me teaching a Cardio Blast, high-intensity interval class at 5:45 on Wednesday mornings that involves jumping around until my lungs leak out my nose.

Here are the main differences between a power yoga workout and cardio blast:

Heart Rate: While a good power yoga class gets the ol’ heart pumpin’, a Cardio Blast heartbeat is more like a hummingbird on meth. Get the heart rate up, stop. Get the heart rate up, stop. When you can’t feel your heart beating anymore, take a break.

Absence of Zen: Yoga is all about living in the moment. High-intensity intervals is more about making it THROUGH the moment–without the help of a defibrillator. (Although I keep one close.)

(I’ll be fine. Just let me finish that last interval . . .)

Breathing: Yoga uses breath to support, lift and focus. Cardio Blast uses breath by making short, steady gasping and wheezing noises. And since I’m wearing a microphone, my dying Darth Vader breath is sent through the speakers at high volumes. Plus, when my heart rates spikes, my face turns bright red. I look like a freakin’ thermometer.

Finale: The last minutes of yoga are spent in deep relaxation with a quiet mind and focused breath. The last minutes of Cardio Blast are spent trying not to die. I leave yoga feeling composed and ready to face the day. I leave my interval class–usually in a wheelchair sucking on oxygen through a tube in my nose.

Benefits: Yoga builds strength, increases flexibility and teaches patience. Intervals are supposed to increase oxygen capacity, create strength and melt fat. I haven’t seen evidence of that yet, but I have noticed it causes me to swear a lot more during class.

Music: Yoga tunes are inherently relaxing, zen-like tones, usually Peruvians playing pipes, or sounds of nature–like seagulls or whales. Cardio Blast music is a mash-up between techno, pop, dance and a drummer taking Red Bull shots. If you leave the class with your hearing intact, the music wasn’t loud enough.

Now, get out there and get your heart pumping. Well, I hope it’s already pumping.

Top 5 Reasons to Do Yoga

Some of you may know that by some crazy fluke, I’m a certified yoga instructor. Which is funny because when I first started doing yoga eight years ago, I HATED it. But I kept going back and now I get to be the one torturing, um, I mean, teaching yoga students. I LOVE teaching yoga!

Those of you out there who swear you’ll NEVER do yoga, I hope you’ll reconsider. People tell me all the time they’re too stiff or inflexible to do yoga. Ummmmmm. . . here’s a clue. It doesn’t get better unless you do SOMETHING.

So here are my Top 5 Reasons why you should give yoga a shot:

#1: You learn how to breathe

Yes, you’ve probably been breathing for most of your life, but yoga breathing is SO MUCH BETTER. As Yoda would say, “Power in your breath, there is.”

#2: You understand how to relax

In case you haven’t noticed, our society is a little tense. We dash from task to task like monkeys on meth. Yoga helps you s-l-o-w d-o-w-n and be mindful, present and calm. Kind of like a tranquilizer–but even better! You’ll learn to recognize when your body is hunched and tense. You’ll notice when your shoulders have risen up to attack your ears. You’ll understand that when you stop grinding your teeth–your headaches seem to disappear. It’s like magic!

#3: You get to practice patience

I know. NO ONE likes to practice patience because that usually means you’re faced with an impatient situation. Like life in general. Or teenagers. But as you practice yoga poses, you learn to be patient with your body and all its quirky imperfections. Yoga is not a destination but a life-long journey you get to enjoy. Pretty zen.

#4: You learn to listen to and love your body

Do you listen to your body when it’s so tired it wants to collapse? Or do you tell your body to “suck it up” and keep abusing it with sugar (yes), no sleep (usually) and strenuous exercise-induced injuries? Yoga teaches you to not only LISTEN to what your body is telling you, but to respect your body for everything it does.

The fact our bodies put up with us each day is reason enough to be grateful. If bodies could divorce us–we’d be so out of luck. After practicing yoga for a while, you’ll begin to hear your body (and not in a crazy I-talk-to-my-patio-furniture sort of way). But you’ll tell when you’re going to far–or not going far enough. You’ll be more in tune with your muscles, your breath (see #1) and your thoughts. It’s SO cool.

#5: You take the lessons from yoga into life

When you’re in a difficult yoga pose, trying to breathe, you learn that focus and breath can get you through almost anything–even childbirth (but I had TONS of cool medication when I gave birth, so I wouldn’t know). Here are some of the life lessons I’ve learned from yoga:

  • When you’re stressed–take five deep breaths.
  • When you’re spouse and/or kids are stressed–take five deep breaths.
  • Treat your body well and you’ll feel really good.
  • There is no such thing as the perfect body.
  • Stay present. Stay in the moment. This is it, folks.
  • Don’t live unconsciously.

So here’s my challenge for you today. Find  a yoga studio or fitness center that offers yoga classes and go. If you don’t like it, find another one. There are so many styles of yoga and so many different types of instruction. Keep going until you find the one that resonates with you.

Namaste (“The light in me, honors the light in you.”)