Ladies and gents, I have been rocking the yoga this week!
Specifically, the P90X Yoga that I mentioned earlier this week. Eric borrowed this from a coworker and we have had it sitting around for ages now. I finally dug it up and gave it a whirl!
If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you probably remember my stint with yoga in December 2008/January 2009. I dove full force into yoga, 30-Day shred, and training for a marathon. It was no surprise that I sustained an injury from the over-training.
I have grown a lot since that time and I realize that I am the type of person who likes to focus on one main goal or challenge, instead of spreading myself all over the place. When I was training for my races this summer and fall, I was focused. I had tangible goals and I met them.
There has always been this lingering desire for me to practice yoga on a regular basis. I think this is the perfect time for me to explore something new. I find that I am craving flexibility and tension-relief exercises. I haven’t done anything of the sort in months! Baking all day has left me with really stiff and sore back muscles and I hope that yoga will help with that.
I have been turning out the lights in the office and lighting a few candles. This instantly relaxes me, similar to baking when the sun rises and everything looks clean and crisp outdoors.
I haven’t set a time limit. I just go until I feel tired and stretched out. Tuesday I ended up doing 15 minutes, Wednesday I did 25, and Thursday I did another 15.
I immediately knew that I was going to like this DVD because it didn’t seem too ‘out there’ for me. It seemed like a normal group of people practicing yoga. I liked that the group involved a male athlete who had just started to take up yoga to help with his athleticism! Many athletes in all different areas practice yoga as a way to improve their chosen sport. I think it can really help with my running too because I have obviously gotten really tight and was doing nothing about it.
I can’t review the entire 90 minute DVD since I have only done 25 minutes, but I can tell you what I liked about it so far:
1) Aside from the instructor’s heavy breathing, he is quite easy to listen to and learn from. He explains things clearly.
2) The DVD counts down the time remaining (far right) as well as how many seconds are left in each interval. I don’t pay much attention to it, but it is nice to have.
3) For the first 25 minutes, I was able to follow along with the poses without too much difficulty. At some parts they moved a bit quicker than I did, and this caused me to lag a bit, but it wasn’t a big deal.
4) In addition to the instructor naming each pose, the bottom of the screen also displays the name. This really helped me learn each pose name. I find when instructors just say it, I never really picked them up. I am a visual learner! I love how clear this DVD is.
Here is what I didn’t enjoy:
1) Downward facing dogs
I despise them with every core of my being. My arms are so sore!!!! I could see enjoying this pose if I was flexible, but it really is no fun when you aren’t. I hope this improves over time. This DVD had many series of down dogs over and over and over again. I found it felt a bit long. Again, I hope that improves as I improve. I also need to work on my mental game and focus because I am not as zoned out as I would like to be.
At the start of the DVD, the instructor says, ‘Free your mind of all the clutter’. It really is necessary to get into it. Tonight my mind wasn’t into it and I could tell. Eric and I sort of had a stressful night and I was just not able to tune out my thoughts.
To all you yogis out there: What are your tricks for zoning out and being present in the moment? Does it just come with practice?
What do I think of yoga so far?
All and all, I am enjoying it so far and I am trying to keep my spirits up despite feeling like I suck. I think the reason I get so frustrated with yoga is because for me it is not easy to see improvements with it as fast as I would like to. Yoga, to me, seems abstract. With something like running or weight training, I have clear tangible evidence of my hard work in terms of numbers. I know that my flexibility will improve and I will notice that over time, but it is just not what I am used to I guess!
Yoga is probably one of the hardest challenges I have given myself because of my lack of flexibility and my fidgety personality. When I was young, I always scored POOR on my flexibility tests in gym class. I also am the type of person who can’t sit still, so it is no surprise that I did not gravitate toward yoga.
I got frustrated with my down dogs tonight and Eric said something very clever. He said, ‘It’s not about whether you do the pose exactly right or not. It’s not about your form. It is whether you are challenging your own body. Are you stretching? Well, then you are doing it right.’
Who is this guy? lol. Apparently, he was a yogi in his past life! ;) Wise words from my man.
I think I need to stop focusing on my form so much and start focusing more on how my body feels and where my mind is. I think I will find that it is much more pleasurable this way.
Do you do yoga? What was it like when you started? Tell me your story!
There is an amazing giveaway going on for GLO BARS! Enter here!
My husband and I did the entire P90X program (I reviewed it on my blog) and while I didn’t love the yoga at first (so long!!!) I ended up really enjoying the DVDs and am still using it now, even after the program!
I’ve learned to turn the commentary off, though, and just listen to Tony Horton’s cues. He’s okay, but after 3 months, his shtick gets old!
Glad you’re liking it — ever consider doing the whole thing?
I love yoga. I don’t love the weirdness of it sometimes. You know what I mean. I took one yoga class at 24 hour fitness but do the yogadownloads at home. I love that I can do them at home in the comfort of my own home. I don’t have to worry about anyone else but me. I don’t know that I would enjoy a studio…I’m intimidated by them so that alone isn’t a good thing. I love it so much because I instantly feel more relaxed and leveled. I’m so glad you’re giving it another shot.
I love Bikram Yoga (heat yoga). I have never really practiced any other type of yoga. I love Bikram because on top of relaxing and stretching your muscles, you get a cardiovascular workout as well. Im the type of person that has to sweat to feel like I got a great workout! It also has so many medical benefits. I gravitate more towards things like pilates because I was a dancer.
Best advise: Focus on your breathing. Your thoughts will seem to just float away.
I started taking a yoga class in Sept as I thought it might help with my breathing and flexibility, which in turn would help make me a better runner…the instructor teaches Astanga yoga.
I don’t mind going to the class, but like you said, I struggle a bit because I feel like I suck at it! I’m not a good breather and I’m definately not flexible, so these are things that I’m trying to focus on in the yoga class. I also have trouble with the ‘zoning out’ part too…
So, all in all, I’m not in love with yoga yet, but I’m not giving up!
I did yoga on and off in middle school and high school and a little bit in college, but, not much at all. I started taking classes more regularly last year and then during the spring, when I really started running, yoga has become a staple in my life. I find that it really helps my running, helps me to losen up in areas I wasn’t even aware were tight, helps me to relax, refocus and just do something for me. I didn’t go to yoga for 2 weeks and went this last Wednesay–whooie, I couldn’t believe how much I missed it. Yes, it’s challening, and it’s often hard for me to be in the moment, rather than fretting about what I am missing out on at the office, etc, but, for me, it’s a great addition to my running.
I really do not enjoy yoga–I have trouble with the clearing your mind part and always seem to focus on how hungry I am! :) My husband and I did P90X this summer, and I found myself dreading the 90 minute yoga days. But, I definitely could feel it making a difference in the end. I’m NOT flexible either, but by the 3rd time or so of the P90X yoga I really could do more of the poses/stretches and my form got better. I’ve been thinking about starting it back up once a week or so. And also, I like the end of the video because he does more balance/coordination/stretching moves.
Love the fact that Sketchie snuck into your first picture. haha :) I’m such a novice to yoga…it’s intimidating! I think I might try a few videos, but there are some “community classes” around here that are pretty cheap that I’m looking to try out.
I have been doing P90X yoga for the past month, and I am slowly growing to enjoy it more and more each time. The first time I did it, I could barely do any of the moves, but now I can do quite a few of them. I agree, it does seem like way too many downward dogs, but once you get past them, the rest it focuses on balance poses which are more interesting. I have never really practiced yoga before, so I find the entire 90 minutes to be very challenging. All I keep thinking is to go through the motions to the best of my ability and I will eventually get better!
I find it helps if I really concentrate on my breathing…if my mind says “iiinnn, oouuut” along with my breathing, it lets my mind do something without actually doing anything, if that makes sense.
I used to take yoga classes every week and felt self-conscious for quite some time since I didn’t feel I was “as good as the others.” I know that’s totally not what yoga is about, but it took me quite some time to let go of those thoughts… But after a while I was able to be present and in the moment and let go of everything else. I haven’t taken yoga classes for a while since it’s hard to fit them into my schedule, but I do some on my own. It always calms me down…
I love the blue jacket on you; awesome blue on you! :)
I do really WANT to like yoga. I haven’t gotten there yet but I do see the benefit – maybe I’ll get back to taking some classes…
I’m glad you said your arms were sore from the downward dogs – that always happens to me and yet in class it is used as sort of a “break” pose. Something to work on I guess.
Well after a few months of lurking, I wanted to add my 2 cents – lol! I have been practising yoga on and off for about 8 years and the one thing I have noticed is I always seem drawn back to it when I really need to tune in and really focus on my feelings, usually after a period of not listening to that inner voice and sometimes even purposely ignoring it. The great thing about yoga (even though it is not always for everyone) is that there are so many types. You can get a hard workout, a great stretch, build up a sweat or find restoration and healing all depending on the style you practice. I have even recently found a class for runners which works of stretching runner specific muscles and works on strengthing runner’s typical muscle inbalances. Go figure!
I have taken a few classes that I really enjoyed. Breathing is a huge element to me being successful in class. Focus on your breaths and let them do some of the work. It is ease some tension and give you something to focus on. Breathing is UNDERRATED! Hope this helps :-)
I am terrible at down dogs, too! My hamstrings are so tight, I simply can’t get them to NOT buckle in that pose. It’s something I am working on as well!
Your post has me doing some poses in my empty office :-D The coworkers are both out today, so it’s perfect!
Have a great afternoon!
I first tried yoga in college when I was seeing a therapist for body image/disordered eating issues. She suggested it as a way to focus and appreciate my body for what it could do. I really started to love it, and now I take classes at a studio in my town.
More than anything, yoga has been SUCH a learning experience for me. If your mind is wandering to what you’ll make for dinner, how stressful work was, or how your stomach must be sticking out … it is impossible to hold the poses. It is a challenge each and every time to stay present and “be on the mat”, not elsewhere. It REALLY helps to focus on your breath. Breathe loudly and if you have to, think “I am breathing in, I am breathing out … ”
Also, know that slowly but surely you will become more flexible. It does take time, so just OBSERVE where you are at the present and don’t push it! Yoga is so great for you, regardless of how far you can go into each pose!!
I am in love with yoga and have been for the past two years.
Something that helps me close off from everything else and just listen to my body is focusing on something else usually my breath or the way part of my body feels during a certain pose. Usually I do both. Try and “breathe” in the area that is feeling the stretch. You should feel the stretch without panicking or being judgmental.
It takes time but take a look at different forms of yoga. I cant stand yin yoga where you sit and hold poses all the time.
I LOVE flow or ashtanga yoga where your body is constantly moving with my breath. It feels so graceful and beautiful like I am dancing.
For me yoga is powerful because I do see immediate results. As one of my symptoms of my digestive issues is extreme bloating. After yoga I feel relief from this and like my digestive system is actually working.
It’s amazing! I hope you can continue your practice and find what works for you.
Ok so I have actually done the entire P90X yoga and I hate every minute of it. My husband and I have just completed the entire 90 days of P90X (we completed P90 prior to this so we LOVE Tony). The yoga was the worst work out. It is 92 minutes of pure hell. the first 40ish minutes is all updog/downdog vinyasa things..those were enough to kill me. The rest isn’t bad until you get to the yoga belly 7…those also suck. I am much better at the balance poses.
In the end we did the yoga each week just as we were scheduled to and I ded get better, but I never liked it.
The rest of the program, while the hardest workout I have ever completed, was awesome. I am stronger and I am sure that I am more flexible because of the yoga that I have EVER been. So a big thanks to my TONY for being there at 5 am for me.
I took a weekly yoga class a few years ago, for about 18 months. I really liked it, but it was getting too expensive and my schedule was getting too busy to have one more commitment, so the yoga class had to go. I liked doing it with an instructor because she really personalized everything, giving you something more challenging if it was easy, or making it easier if you were struggling. I liked that she was there to make sure we were doing the pose correctly — this was important to me because I wanted to be stretching/strengthening the muscles the pose was intended for. I also really liked taking the class because that was an hour where I wouldn’t be distracted to do something else. I’m afraid if I tried to do it at home, I would be thinking about the laundry that I needed to fold, the floor I needed to mop, etc. The class allowed me to totally get away from the house and JUST do yoga.
I’d like to do it again, but still feel overwhelmed with my current life schedule.
I just started doing yoga when i was living in Prague last year. I am like you – mega unflexible and SUPER fidgety, but I’m getting to the point now where I’m liking it. Just concentrate on how the stretches feel. It’s also a great toner for arms and shoulders! I used to hate down dog but now I really like it – it’s such a great feeling leg stretch.
My mind was always all over the place too and until I found that focus I didn’t really see many improvements in my practice. The mind is a huge part of yoga. For me, when I find my mind wandering, I revert back to my mantra. I’ve had lots of different yoga teachers and many of them have taught me different mantras – the point is to say the phrase (in your head) with your breathing. For me though, simplicity is best and my mantra is peace-out. On every breath in, in my head, I say the word ‘peace’ really slow and really long. On every breath out, in my head, I say the word ‘out’. If I’m having an especially hard time concentrating then on each breath in I think about peace entering my body – happy people, my family, children laughing, etc. On every breath out, I think about all the negative thoughts leaving my body. Hope this helps! I know it’s made a huge difference in my practice.
I love how they call Down Dogs a rest pose. I hate them, too!! P.S. I’m giving away two breast cancer awareness prize packs on my blog: http://lovinlosing.com/.
“I could see enjoying this pose if I was flexible, but it really is no fun when you aren’t.” omg YES! I hate downward dogs as well, because i am so crazy not flexible. I’m trying to keep at it though.
For those of you who don’t have a ton of time and still want to get in a bit of yoga, I highly recommend Gaiam’s “AM/PM Yoga” DVD. I try to do the AM yoga set everyday, its about 20 minutes long, and its just a nice way to get your energy up and ready for the day. And as a student, who barely gets any sleep due to schoolwork, this is somewhat manageable for me.
With regards to clearing your mind, my yoga teacher once told me to “look for the spaces between the thoughts.” I found this to be extremely helpful, because i have a hard time turning my mind off. So instead of trying to stop it completely, find the spaces in between two thoughts, and focus on that for as long as you can.
I am just like you. Not flexible and terrible at focusing during yoga! I’ve been doing it consistently (2-3 times/week; usually 25 minutes/time, but sometimes full classes) for about a year and have definitely gotten better, but I don’t think I do it enough to see extreme improvements – like being able to actually get my heels to the ground during down dog! Even though I still struggle with silencing my mind, I never finish a yoga session without thinking I just did something great for my body and myself. :-)
‘Zoning’ yourself out during your yoga session comes with practice. When I first started yoga, I kept looking out the window, watching other people, thinking of what I wanted to cook for dinner, etc.. but all of the sudden something clicked when the instructor was talking and my mind is always set on yoga. It isn’t hard, it will just come to you :) yay for yoga!!
I feel the same way about yoga – I feel like there’s nothing to work towards, no goal to set. But I’ve never been flexible at all .. or balanced .. or able to relax my mind. So I try to work towards that bunch of little goals each time I do yoga.
Don’t worry about not ‘mastering’ yoga. Eric is right! If you feel the stretch you are supposed to be feeling then you are doing it right! Just give it time : )
When I first started doing yoga I was having issues with my “mouse arm” and I found the downward facing dog (or any pose that had me putting my hands flat on the floor) really difficult. It did get better and I will say that there is some disadvantage to doing it on your own rather than going to classes because your form and how you distribute your weight can make a difference.
As for progress and learning to focus – it comes. I do still sometimes have sessions where my focus is not all that it should be, but I try to concentrate on what I’m doing – in that respect I find more challenging workouts to be better because you have to pay attention to what you are doing.
For progress measures – your strength and flexibility will gradually increase. I remember when I first started learning Sun Salutations. The instructor looked so graceful, moving from pose to pose and I felt so awkward and jerky trying to keep up. I thought I would never get it. Then suddenly one day I was just there and it all started flowing. It felt so good!
Hang in there – it’s worth it. :)
I too, am like you and not very flexible. That said, I love yoga. I really recommend if you find time to go to a studio nearby and take classes. Its just so much more rewarding since you get the energy from the other people in the room. My favourite yoga (and I’ve tried em all) is hot yoga. I go to the Moska Yoga studio.. its wonderful .. very zen/spa like atmosphere and they have chains in Ontario so check out their website. www.moskayoga.com
Ooops I gave you the wrong URL, try
PS – I went to Fresh when I was in TO last w.e and LOVED it! Thanks for the write up, any other vegan places you know of?
This is getting embarrasing.. THIS is the URL
I just ADORE yoga! Seriously, it has such amazing mental and physical benefits for me personally. My favorite is yogadownload.com, but I also have a few DVDs and podcasts I enjoy. I never schedule a yoga practice, and instead do one whenever I feel in the mood. It’s usually about every other day, and I always am glad I take the time! Thanks for the review on the DVD Angela!
I’m actually really curious about yoga and will probably try it really soon. :)
it will come with time, I have been practising on and off since grade 7 so almost 10 years and the focus comes the more you practise and it really helps with my everyday life too! Also downward dogs can be challenging for long distance runners but its a great stretch to loosen up your hamstrings
Ange, Tomorrow I am going to send Ms. Alex Kelly a free yoga pass for you! Its at an amazing studio in central Toronto called 889 Yonge. Enjoy!
i have been to the Yoga Show in London today..and it was amazing
I went to Simon Low’s Yin Yoga workshop and it was fanatastic xxx
I love how men somehow always get to the point of the matter. Eric’s comment was spectacular!
Hi! Came out of lurking to comment because I was in exactly the same situation as you only one year ago. Struggling and feeling like I was getting nowhere.
I didn’t even want to do yoga initially. I was looking for cardio workouts on the exercise channel but these stupid yoga classes seemed to be on whenever I had time to work out so I ended up grudgingly doing one or two. At first I hated down-dog…..it drove me crazy! All I kept wondering was “When is this over! Stop talking instructor! I want to come down now!” It was hard. And I am also a very fidgety person…..I can’t watch a movie without simultaneously reading some blogs and leafing through a magazine so I get the lack of focus thing:) However I will say that maybe 2 weeks in of everyday practice everything started to be easier and now I genuinely think of down-dog as a rest pose….It will happen even if you don’t believe it now. I started doing some of the Yoga Today classes which are great and then when I felt ready started to do one class a week with a really good ashtanga style teacher. Now its all the exercise I do! My main practice is at home but I have to say that its my class that gives me the tools to have that home practice. There is nothing like a good teacher. As for results…..this is my first year since the age of 14 where I have not had to have time off work coupled with lots of muscle relaxants and NSAIDs for back problems.
A really good way to give yourself a goal and start a great habit is to do a 30 day challenge of practicing at least 15 minutes every day. I did this in January of this year and it really gave me so much momentum. Best January ever physically and mentally. Wow! This is long!
Hey Ange, I am just catching up the last two days of posts. Thanks so much for your kind Birthday words, I’m sure you aren’t surprised that it brought the tears to my eyes. Also, I really appreciated all of the very nice HBD wishes from your readers. I was surprised to find out so many of them share my birthday. We are enjoying our time in Tahiti. I also appreciated the suggestion from one of your readers about the restaurant to go to in Bora Bora — can’t wait! I am having difficulty with my email account, but have sent you an email via John’s email.
I have been practicing Baptiste yoga on and off for a year and I STILL loathe downward facing dog until I get nice and loose – which doesn’t take long practicing in 100 degrees. But you’re right – focus on your body and what it’s doing!
Eric is totally right! I’ve found that every class is a little bit different, there are tons of variations for each pose, but every single yoga teacher I know says that doing the full expression of the pose isn’t really important. Allowing your body to go as far as it can, without sacrificing the proper alignment, is key.
And I’m the worst at calming my mind and letting go of everything on the yoga mat. I used to get so mad at myself because I felt like I was doing something wrong when my mind wandered during a yoga class. But just like you’re patient with your body as it gets more flexible, you’ve gotta be patient with your mind as it (much more slowly, in my experience) learns to slow down and let things go. You’ve got the right attitude already; just keep reminding yourself to be patient and as long as you’re doing your best, you’re doing enough.
I have been doing yoga on and off for over 3 years now and I like it but like you, I’ve never REALLY gotten into it. It’s hard for me to remove all the thoughts from my head while practicing. I will say that my arms are always so sore the day after yoga. It’s a great strength training exercise for me.
PS Is your cat a leopard!?!?
I first started yoga in August! I went right into hot yoga which to this day, I can’t think of any other time I walked out of the gym or any thing else for that matter feeling so refreshed and rejuvenated. Several weeks in I was going strong and noticed an improvement in my flexibility. I was in a car accident in Jan ’09 and sprained my pelvis, it felt good to give everything a great, big deep stretch! Then disaster struck — I was in a softball tournament in mid-September and I took a line drive to my knee! I haven’t gone back to yoga yet. I’m just not feeling that motivated. I’m more concerned about getting my knee back to normal and being able to do 30 mins on the treadmill without it hurting my knee the next day. If you have any ideas for rehabbing a bad knee I’d love to hear from you.
Good luck with the yoga though, I really recommend the hot yoga I found it easiest to let go of my inner thoughts and just mindlessly do the poses.
I just started yoga a few months ago and I love it. I think the mentality that is acheived during your yoga practice come with time and …well, practice ;)
I think it’s important for beginner yogi’s to attend group classes (hello college!) or seek private sessions to assist in learning the basics of each pose. As you begin to gain knowledge about the different poses and yoga in general, I think there comes a shift in your yoga practice; mine happened to go from physical to mental fitness.
I think too many beginner’s try to emulate those more experienced in group classes, which is why I recommend solo practice with adequate knowledge after a few group sessions. I’ve found that I’ve been able to increase my “mental” fitness through yoga when I practice solo. The key for me was to stop comparing myself to others in class or in the videos and just do my own thang! Now, when I DO go to group classes, I find I’m usually one of the more advanced ones there….all because I stopped the self-doubting thoughts and was then able to expand my yoga practice ten-fold.
A few tips:
(1) Acknowledge the thoughts and then move on.
(2) Count your breaths instead.
(3) A teacher once told me if you have thoughts about other people, then it’s ok. If you have thoughts about what you need to do later or how big your butt is, not okay.
I’ve been wanting to get into yoga as well, and this sounds like it might be a good video, but do you know if it’s only available as part of the whole P90X system?
And your flexibility will get there :)
Creating your own Routines With P90X
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Yoga has always been my go-to exercise regime to help flexibility, tone muscles and maintain my mental health! Although I enjoy yoga, I don’t find the cost of a studio membership very affordable and it doesn’t work well with my shift-work schedule.
My favourite website to use is called Do Yoga With Me which features local yoga instructors and is filmed in *beautiful* Victoria and Vanocuver, B.C. ALSO!, did I mention that it’s COMPLETELY FREE !!!! :D There is absolutely everything on this website from yoga videos for all levels of experience to guided meditations and videos explaining poses and breathing techniques. It’s a FANTASTIC website and I cannot praise it enough. I IMPLORE you to check it out!!! :D
Hope you like it!