Yesterday I was having lunch with a friend at Sweetgreen (surprise). We were talking about life, FOOD, and fitness, when the subject of yoga came up. It reminded me that I had wanted to write this post but didn’t write it down and therefore forgot about it. Note to self — write things down.
I was happy to complain about yoga with someone who shared my outlook on it — that yoga is great in and of itself, for others, and not me. There’s a couple reasons why I don’t include yoga in my exercise practice, but it wasn’t until recently that I realized one of those was more than just physical.
I love people who do yoga. I’m horribly generalizing right now, but friends I know who either teach or practice a lot of yoga tend to be calm, relaxed, and generally happy most of the time. Their persona is one I enjoy being around and I’m always inspired to calm the F down in my own life.
I have given yoga more than a fair shot. I used to incorporate it into my running plan for at least a year, doing it on my rest days because yoga never feels like a workout to me. I committed to 30 days of Bikram, mostly because I left drenched in sweat and thought I looked better because all the liquid from my body was now on my clothes. I’ve gone to yoga with family members and attended yoga events. I just can’t do it.
My physical problems with yoga are that I simply don’t find it challenging. Hold up — yes, yoga can be challenging. For me to practice those types, however, I’d have to first put myself through all the regular newbie yoga which I don’t have the patience for. So, for me, I don’t feel like I’ve been challenged when I finish a yoga class. Give me barbells and sprints and pushing myself to the limit and THEN I feel like I’ve worked out.
My mind also goes a million miles a minute. If I’m not training, I’m probably teaching, and if I’m not teaching I’m doing something related to this blog or social media. I’m literally working from the time I get up til the time I go to bed (no lectures please — I already have my breakdown scheduled on the calendar 🙂 ). Sitting in a yoga class for an hour is torture. I’m forced to go through repetitive movements, all while recounting everything I could be working on in my head. It’s like I’m trapped in a room and I can’t get out.
This brings me to the non-physical issue I have with yoga.
Yoga makes me emotionally uncomfortable. I didn’t realize it until I attend the NOW Foods trip earlier this year and had the opportunity to participate in a group fitness class. The workout was high-intensity, which I loved, and was followed by an extended cool-down period. The cool-down period was a mixture of stretching and some yoga moves and took longer than I normally stretch after I work out. In fact, I’m usually rushing to my next appointment and have to run away before the stretching even starts. Whoops.
Lying on the floor and concentrating on my breath was fine for the first minute. I felt happy and energized after kicking butt with dumbbells and movements that got my heart rate up. Pretty soon, however, I started to feel really uncomfortable. I didn’t want to be in the room anymore. I got angry that I was “being forced” to do this part of the workout. Irrationally angry. Then my anger turned to sadness and I felt overcome with the urge to cry and go to sleep. WTF.
Since we only had a couple minutes left and I was with a group of almost complete strangers, I knew crying probably wasn’t the best option at that moment. I was able to avoid the urge, we finished up, and I certainly wasn’t feeling as good as I had immediately following the exercise.
I was caught off guard by the emotions that came up for me during that brief time. It made me realize that although I’m much more in touch with my feelings that I used to be, there’s still more work to be done. I’ve gotten away from journaling, sitting still with myself, and really taking the time to check in and figure out how I’m doing on a daily basis. It’s easy for me to get swept up in day-to-day activities and obligations and yoga forces me to stop. To look at myself. To listen to corny mantras that actually mean things to me if I’m being honest.
I’m still not planning on practicing yoga anytime soon (ha), but it was an important revelation to me. As someone who advocates checking in with yourself and expressing feelings, the disconnect between my words and my actions was pretty clear. It caused me to take a step back and ask myself why I was so avoidant of my feelings at certain times. It caused me to realign.
SO for all you yogis out there — I commend you on your dedication and your willingness to sit still with yourself on a daily basis. You’ve helped me realize that I need to set aside more time to just BE. To feel whatever comes up and spend more time checking in with myself.
Yoga — I still don’t like you, but I respect you. I’m also scared of you a little bit. 🙂
Thanks to Amanda for letting me think out loud.
- Do you like yoga? What makes you like it?
- Have you ever had an emotional yoga experience?