Tag Archives: Yoga

How to Like Yoga

Woman doing yoga on a wooden floorThe idea for today’s post came from a search engine query that lead someone to this site last month.

I will only make one assumption about this query. My best guess is that it was created by someone who has tried yoga in the past, did not enjoy, and wishes they could find a way to change that.

With that assumption in mind, here are some ideas.


Try Other Types of Yoga

Did you know there are many different styles of yoga? I’ve read articles that mention as few as eight and as many as twenty-four depending on how strictly one defines a style.

Vinyasa yoga is athletic and aerobic.

Bikram yoga, also known as hot yoga, happens in a hot, humid room. Students are expected to make their own adjustments instead of relying on the instructor to help them achieve the right pose.

Ashtanga yoga is energetic. It involves memorizing a specific series of moves and then performing them without any coaching from the instructor. This is best for experienced people.

Yin yoga is slow paced, meditative, and involves a lot of seated positions. This is a good choice fo beginners or anyone who may not be up for the more athletic poses of other types of yoga.

Kundalini yoga is both spiritual and physical. It includes chanting, singing, and breathing exercises.

This list is only scratching the surface. Yoga can be a calm, contemplative experience, a gruelling workout, or many other things depending on which style one chooses and what they want to get out of it.


Try It Again

three women doing yogaDisliking any form of exercise the first few times doesn’t necessarily mean that someone will never get used to it.

Weightlifting wasn’t something I enjoyed that much when I first started out with it. I’ll save the specific details of this for a post coming up next week, but I needed time to figure out how to tweak the things I disliked about it and lean into the stuff I did until I learned to enjoy it quite a bit.


Try It Under Ideal Conditions

For example:

  • wear comfortable clothing
  • avoid poses that causes pain
  • choose simple poses
  • pick an environment as quiet (or noisy) as you prefer

Sometimes one can grow to like a form of exercise if they ease into it. The rules are there to guide people, not to be followed so strictly they suck all of the enjoyment out of exercising.


Try a New Instructor

flexible young asian man doing balancing asana during hatha yoga trainingAll of the yoga I’ve done so far has been at home while watching various instructional videos on the topic. Thank goodness for Youtube.

One time I stopped a new routine within a few moments of checking it out because the instructor’s style didn’t mesh well with me at all. (Although I’m sure there are many other people out there who like their style!)

There’s definitely something to be said or trying several different instructors for a type of yoga that may or may not be the right one for a particular person.


Try another Format

Covid-19 makes certain parts of this difficult at the moment, of course, but I think there’s something to be said for comparing an in-person yoga class to online videos or books on the subject.

Some people learn best if they have an instructor nearby to correct their movements.

Having the ability to pause a video while figuring out where on Earth to put their feet next might work better for someone else.

Others might prefer to read all about the various types of yoga they’re thinking about doing before they try a new pose no matter how simple or difficult it might seem to be at first.


Try A Different Form of Exercise

A black skipping ropeThe possibility also exists that yoga isn’t the right form of exercise for the person who sent in this query.

I love the idea of running. It’s a form of exercise I’ve tried to get into multiple times, but I’ve never been able to stick to it because of how much I dislike the way it feels. Jogging hurts my joints and lungs in ways that I can’t ignore or push through.

On the other hand, I could go on a brisk walk or a swim for an hour and still have the energy to keep going.

In order to be sustainable, I believe that everyone should pick the forms of exercise they can find something enjoyable about. Few people are going to stick to a fitness routine that they dread doing, especially in the longterm.

There are many other types of exercise out there that might be a better fit for a specific person. It’s totally okay to realize that yoga isn’t one’s cup of tea.


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3 Things I Like About Yoga

women doing yoga

While I briefly dabbled with trying yoga once many years ago, I actually dove into it for real a couple of weeks ago.

With all of the restrictions on when and why we’re permitted to leave our homes in Toronto these days due to the Covid-19 epidemic, this seemed like the perfect time to branch out and try something new.

Here are a few wonderful things that have stood out to me about this form of exercise as I’ve been acclimating to it. I’m keeping this post short and sweet because I’m still so new to yoga in general. Perhaps I’ll write longer posts about it in the future!

If any of you have been doing this form of exercise longterm, I’d sure love to hear your favourite things about it as well.

The Focus on Balance and Flexibility

Black silhouettes of various yoga posts against a white background. All of my other regular workout routines are heavily immersed in cardio and strength training exercises.

Yoga requires my body to bend and flex in ways that are quite different from dancing or lifting weights.

Instead of bracing myself to lift a heavy load or pivot to a new dance move, I’m learning how to better hold my balance with a tricky position and gently stretch just a little bit further every time.

The Attention Paid to Breathing Patterns

Dandelion seeds being blown away from a mature dandelion plant. Breathing isn’t something I consciously think about with other forms of exercise unless I’m out of breath for them.

Even then, the only aspect of it that crosses my mind is generally how many seconds or minutes are left until my body can slow down and catch up on some of the air it requires.

The incredible thing about yoga is how much your breath matter even though I’ve yet to become out of breath with any of the poses I’ve done so far.

I’ve actually started to pay closer attention to my breathing during times of the day when I’m not exercising as well as a result of these workouts.

It’s so interesting to see how these sessions are affecting me in that way. This wasn’t something I was expecting to happen at all.

The Reinforcement of Mindfulness

White clouds against a bright blue skyYoga is the slowest type exercise I’ve ever discovered. Everything about it encourages me to pay close attention to what I’m currently doing and think of nothing but holding my current pose.

There is something incredibly relaxing about turning away from all of the distractions of the world we currently live in and existing in a moment.

The fact that I can do that while also getting a good workout in only makes it better.


Filed under Fitness, Mindfulness and Meditation

Health and Fitness at the Dollar Store

One of the biggest misconceptions some people have about getting fit is that it requires a significant investment of money in the beginning if you’re starting out with little to no equipment.

This couldn’t be further from the truth.

A few nights ago, I took a stroll around a dollar store to see what kinds of health and fitness items they had for sale there. I jotted down everything I could find that could somehow be connected to this topic, and the list was much longer than I ever would have imagined it would be.

Seriously. I was expecting to find maybe ten things there, but I ended up finding closer to a hundred of them if every category is fully expanded to include every example in them.

This is what they had for sale there:

  • T-shirts
  • Hats
  • Sandals
  • Hair ties
  • Socks
  • Sports bras
  • Ponchos
  • Support insoles for shoes
  • Sunglasses
  • Beach towels
  • Goggles
  • Bug Repellant
  • Sunscreen
  • First Aid supplies (bandaids, disinfectant, etc).
  • Plastic and metal buckets of various sizes (for transporting dirty or wet items back home)
  • Reusable plastic water bottles
  • Fishing poles
  • Headlamps
  • Small lanterns (if hiking or camping are on your to-do list)
  • Pet toys (for playing tug-of-war or fetch)
  • Pool toys
  • Toys and games for all ages/abilities (dart guns, dart boards, balls, chalk, jump ropes, etc)
  • Young children’s toys (plastic baseball bats, miniature golf clubs, etc)
  • Balloons (for water balloon fights or other similar games)
  • Beach toys (small shovels, plastic molds for making sandcastles, etc).
  • Frisbees
  • Rainbow flyers
  • Gardening tools (hand rakes, small shovels, etc).
  • Badminton rackets and balls
  • Plastic/rubber balls for other sports
  • Hula hoops
  • Sports equipment (rackets, balls, etc).
  • Yoga mats
  • Kettleballs
  • Resistance bands
  • Exercise wheels
  • Push up stands
  • Stretch bands
  • Roll out exercise wheels
  • Yoga mats
  • Yoga towels
  • Nonperishable, fairly healthy snacks (nuts, beef jerky, bottled water, canned fruit, applesauce.)
  • Many types of large reusable bags (for toting around everything on this list!)

Some of the items on this list did cost more than a dollar, but all of them were very inexpensive in general.

Whether I was planning to hike, swim, build sandcastles play any number of sports, jog, lift weights, stretch, do yoga, garden, go camping, or participate in any number of other activities, there were products for almost every type of exercise one could possibly imagine. I was seriously impressed by their selection.

Why am I recommending checking out your local dollar store if I believe in minimalism and buying quality over quantity?

There are a few reasons why this could be a smart idea under certain circumstances:

Not Everything Needs to be Well-Made in Order to be Useful

Several years ago, I bought a sun hat from the dollar store that suits my purposes perfectly when I want to exercise outdoors on a sunny day. Was it fashionable? Well, only if you’re a time traveller from 1995, but I’m not the kind of person who worries about how trendy I look when I’m working out.

Why spend $60 on something like that if you can spend $2 or $3 instead for the exact same outcome? For the kinds of activities I do, the type of hat doesn’t matter in the least. Anything that shades my face and neck from the sun will be more than adequate for my purposes.

It’s a Low-Cost Way to Try New Activities

For example, I like the idea of playing badminton. Every so often, I toy around with the thought of playing that sport as part of my fitness routine.

As mentioned above, the dollar store carries badminton equipment. While it isn’t made from high quality materials, it would be the perfect thing for me to play around with if I ever decide to finally add this sport to my list of preferred activities.

Spending a few dollars wouldn’t break the bank, and I could  go to a secondhand store or a regular store to find much sturdier equipment if I decided that this was something I wanted to play more than occasionally and my original racket broke.

Speaking of broken items….

Losing or Breaking A New Item Won’t Be So Disappointing

I’m very protective of the few possessions I have that are top-notch. Anyone who wants to borrow them has to earn my trust first, and I’d be horribly disappointed if they were damaged, lost, or destroyed in an accident or through someone else’s carelessness. There are certain places that I really wouldn’t want to take those items to due to the risks of them being exposed to the water, dirt, or sand that could ruin them.

The nice thing about dollar store purchases is that you don’t stand to lose hundreds or thousands of dollars if they’re accidentally broken or lost. I wouldn’t hesitate to lend out something like a hula hoop or a pool toy I bought from the dollar store to a friend or relative.

If that item was later returned to me in pristine condition, great! If not, I’ve only lost a few dollars at most. Replacing it won’t hurt my bottom line at all, so I don’t have a problem lending it out or taking it places where the risks of something happening are higher than usual.

What’s At Your Local Dollar Store?

Assuming you live in a part of the world that has dollar stores (or pound shops/variety stores, as they’re sometimes called), what kinds of health and fitness items have you spotted there?

I’d love to compare my list with yours!


Filed under Fitness

How to Find Your Lost Motivation to Exercise

Last month I came down with a summer cold.

(As an aside, don’t you wish we could all look as healthy as stock photo models do when they’re acting sick? Most of the reason why I’m sharing this particular photo with you is because of how much it amuses me).

My illness was minor even for a cold, but as I was recovering I noticed that my motivation to exercise was not returning like it normally does after I get sick.

I’d stopped blowing my nose and my cough was quickly fading away. Yet I still didn’t have the urge to even do something as simple as take a walk around the block to get back into the swing of things.

If this is something that happens to you as well, keep these tips and tricks in mind the next time your fitness routine is interrupted or you really don’t want to do your usual workout today.

Commit to Five Minutes

I thought this idea was ridiculous the first time I heard it, but it does work. Promise yourself that you only need to move your body for five minutes. If you’re still feeling apathetic or unmotivated at the end of that time span, stop and go do something else with your time without any guilt.

It’s been my experience that this usually doesn’t happen, though. Five minutes is just enough time to begin to enjoy whatever activity you normally do during a workout. Most of the time when I make this bet with myself, I end up doing my full workout anyways. Getting started was by far the most challenging part of the whole routine.

Remember Why You Started Exercising

You might have wanted to grow stronger, gain energy, become more flexible, improve your health, or lose weight. On a more personal level, I love the warm, happy feeling I get from all of the endorphins my body releases after a long, brisk walk. That one factor alone is responsible for at least half of the walks I go on. It feels so wonderful.

Everyone’s reasons for exercising is different, of course, so I can’t possibly list all of them in today’s post. Hopefully the list above gave you a good starting spot if I didn’t mention your favourite ones.

Sometimes it’s an excellent idea to revisit your reasons for exercising and think about how at least attempting to get through today’s workout will help you reach those goals.

Try Something New

Occasionally I lose my interest in working out because I’ve been doing the same thing for too long. A few years ago, I included free dance videos on Youtube in my workout routine. They worked beautifully for about a year, and then my interests shifted to include more weightlifting in my schedule instead.

This doesn’t mean that I’ll never try another dance video again. Dancing is something I’d like to return to one day, although I don’t have any plans to do so at the moment.

Yoga was another activity I tried earlier this year in an attempt to broaden my interests. It turned out to be something that I wasn’t as interested in as I originally thought, but I’m glad that I gave it a try and I am keeping it in mind for the future. I may very well find it better suited for my needs in a year or two.

Make a Smaller Goal

To be completely honest with you, my goal for the first two or three days after my cold faded away was to take walks. I didn’t worry about anything other than walking for about thirty minutes a day, and most of those sessions were broke into smaller segments.

Getting back into a lighter version of my usual routine was the key to returning to the way I normally live. I’m now back to lifting weights regularly, too, and I’m enjoying it as much as I normally do.

Track Your Progress

One of the biggest reasons why I love my smartwatch so much is that it keeps track of all kinds of exercise statistics for me. I get notifications when I reach specific goals and badges if I make enough of them throughout the week.

If you’re motivated by small rewards like these and don’t want to track your own statistics, definitely consider going digital.

With that being said, tracking can be done in many different ways. You could take notes about how many workouts you completed, miles you ran, or pounds you lifted in a Word/Pages document or with an old-fashioned pen and sheet of paper instead.

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Why I’m Giving Yoga Another Chance

Those of you who have been following me online for a while might remember my previous forays into yoga.

I’ve tried a few different times now to practice this form of exercise regularly. I love the idea of becoming more physically flexible than I currently am. Yoga seems like it should fit in well with my current weightlifting and walking routines.

Why did I stop practicing yoga the first few times I tried it? 

Simply put, I got bored.

Yoga isn’t exciting like lifting weights.

There aren’t many tangible markers of your progress with it like there are when you move up to a heavier set of weights or suddenly find it easier to lift up grocery bags filled with canned goods.

Yoga doesn’t make your pulse race like cardio exercise either. I’ve never felt out of breath while doing it or wondered how much more I should be pushing my heart-rate up before backing off for a while.

The same thing could be said of a lot of things, though.

I lifted weights for quite a while before I saw any big results with them, and I am able to walk briskly and to dance for much longer periods of time than I could when I first got back into regular exercise.

I didn’t see a lot of progress at first when I started studying Spanish either, but that is beginning to change as well. There

Yoga isn’t any different from those things, so I think I’m going to be giving it another try.

How do I hope to succeed this time?

  1. By picking a different introduction to it. Part of my problem was that the first few Youtube series I’ve tried for people who are new to yoga weren’t very interesting. The instructors in them spoke in quiet, monotone voices, and they often moved  from one pose to the next without explaining what they were doing.
  2. By ignoring the little voice in my head that complains about being bored. Sometimes I get bored when I mediate, too, but that doesn’t stop me from plugging away at it. This isn’t a case of me being ethically or physically uncomfortable with what I’m asking my body to do, so I’m going to try to push through my initial reaction to see if I can find the good parts of yoga.
  3. By focusing on the parts of it I do like. One of the reasons why I’m so interested in getting back into this type of exercise is that stretching certain muscles feels really good. I especially like the stretches that involve gentle twisting my calves and lower legs in general in certain directions.That isn’t a part of my body that I spend a lot of time thinking about, but I expect a lot out of it and enjoy being able to flex them.
  4. By trying again if this attempt doesn’t work. While I sincerely hope that this will be the time that this form of exercise starts to feel more exciting to me, I’m also prepared to regroup and try again later if it doesn’t work out.

I will keep all of you updated on my progress.

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