my fitness routine // yoga

Over the past year I've been getting more into yoga, especially in the last couple months.  Before I started Insanity last fall I was attempting to cultivate a home yoga practice, but I just didn't know enough for it to stick and I ended up focusing on Insanity instead.  The climbing gym where I'm a member has free fitness classes for members, and I always felt silly for not taking advantage of them, so this summer I started making an effort to go to them more frequently, specifically their yoga classes.

I was first exposed to yoga in college, I took pilates for a couple semesters and once when I missed a class I had to make it up by taking another class, so I ended up in a yoga class.  I didn't take another yoga class for many years, but I remember liking it at the time.  Back then I think I was probably a bit put off by the spirituality aspect included in yoga, so I was more comfortable in fitness-oriented pilates classes. 


Now I'm exactly the opposite.  I absolutely love the way that yoga not only focuses on pushing my physical limits, but it also teaches me to listen to my body and learn more about the vessel I inhabit.  It links the physical to the spiritual, which is something I had never really thought about much in the past, but makes so much sense to me now.  There is such a disconnect in our culture between body and mind and spirit.  Climbing, for me, links body and mind because theres so much of a mental aspect to reading routes and figuring out how to climb them.  Yoga links all three.  Not only do I stretch my mind and my body, but I have to focus on what is happening in me spiritually/psychologically as well. 

Another thing that I like about yoga is that, while the goals are a bit more vague, I can still see progress.  My favorite thing about climbing is how simple it is to see my goals, literally.  Not only in the short term (get to the top of the route) but in the long term too (last month I could only climb V4 routes, now I can climb V5 routes).  Yoga is similar, but it's not so cut and dry.  Still, I can feel my body slowly changing.  After working on loosening and opening my hips, I can tell that there are certain poses where I couldn't fully get into the pose, where now I can!  It's exciting to realize that progress is happening, slowly but surely.

Something that was a side effect of yoga that I didn't realize would happen is having more of an awareness of my body and a realization that I'm not as good as I'd like to think.  It's amazing how much our body "cheats" to make us think we're doing something well.  Plus, it's interesting to see how unbalanced my body is.  My left hip is less flexible than my right.  My chest is very tight and my upper back is slouched (oh hai, hours spent crouched over a laptop).  It's amazing how much work it takes to rebalance what your body's natural unbalanced tendencies are.

I'm definitely still a beginner, but I have been enjoying yoga's presence in my life.  I'd like yoga to become as much a part of my life as climbing has.  The two compliment one another nicely and I love that the culture of yogis and climbers is very similar.  I'm hoping my climbing gym gets more yoga classes going, as it'd be nice to have all my favorite things in one place.  Though, I have started looking around Tacoma for another yoga studio where I might start practicing.  I'm still not very good at practicing at home, I much prefer the guidance of a class and teacher for the time being.  I get too distracted when I try to practice at home, even with a video.  I think once I get a better understanding of sequences and what poses compliment one another I'll be better at putting together my own personal yoga practice for home.  However, I do love how being in a class pushes me.  I know that, for instance, I work harder to stay in arm balances longer in classes, whereas at home I'm more prone to fall out of them.  It's also nice to have a teacher present to correct bad alignment and to offer options for deepening a pose.

I'm just discovering what a cool community of yogis there is online and on instagram.  So many inspiring people, it's fun learning new poses and tracking progress.  A lot of these photos are taken from earlier this summer, and there was a photo of my crow pose in the set.  I took another photo of crow just a couple weeks ago and I could see visible progress!  Having photographic proof of progress is nice, especially for things like working out because the changes happen so slowly.