Saturday, January 2, 2016

How to Stay Fit: Yoga

I have been doing basic to intermediate yoga since I was about twelve.  That’s only ten years from this post, but I plan to incorporate it into my life for the next several decades.  I have arthritis in my family, and would like to prevent future damage from high-impact sports and activities.  I also simply wish become stronger, more flexible, and mindful of myself over the years.

The yoga program I have used for ten years is the Wai Lana television series, which is perfect for me.  It is a combination of lush music and scenery, as well as a perfect low-impact, calming workout.  Wai Lana may not be new and trendy, but her colorful outfits, eighties blush, and calming voice has been well-known to many living room yogis for years.  I have six VHSs (I know, but I lived through the age of VHS and DVD and still have compatible players!) I found on her website for only $10 years ago, and now they also live on my computer.

I have tried other yoga workouts (as of now, just video form), and always come back to Wai Lana.  I like to balance her easy beginner’s workouts with simple twists and holds when I am tired, or have been very active.  Other days call for more intense gravity-fighting workouts.  I am best at stretches and twists, and always need to work on those that require me to use my abs to lift my legs or when I’m inverted (I love plow, though).  Here are some of my favorite categories of asanas (the name in yoga for the holds and motions within the session).


Stretches are some of the best asanas to incorporate into your workout, especially at the beginning and end, to warm up and cool down your muscles.  These stretches are also perfect to use in conjunction with other workouts, like running, swimming, hiking, and dance (I love ballet and hula)!


I love twists, as they just feel good.  I know it’s better to work on the asanas you’re not good at and build up, but the ones that make your body feel better right away have to be just as helpful.  Twists can also be combined with stretches to help your body into the tougher routines.

Plow, etc.:

Upside down holds often allow me to zone into a meditative state, because it’s so easy to focus on yourself when you’re in a cave made of your lower torso and legs (it sounds strange, but that’s exactly what asanas like plow do).  Reverse arrow is a hold with the legs not over your head, and works the abs more.  I like doing both plow and reverse arrow.  If you’re not ready for your legs to touch the ground above your head, feel free to use pillows.  Be sure to keep your back straight, and use your abs when lifting and lowering your legs.

There are many other types of asanas, as well as movements similar to the ones I have mentioned.  The important thing is to love what you’re doing, and that means incorporating motions you love and those you tend to avoid because of the challenge.  Even if you’re having a bad day, try a yoga session.  Start out easy if you want, and keep going.  If you already love yoga, or if you’re new, I’d love to see your favorite asanas and any suggestions or comments!  Happy New Year and stay fit!

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