Wednesday, January 28, 2009

It’s All In Your Head

Yesterday I proved this theory when I tackled P90X Yoga with a better attitude. Instead of dreading it, like I normally do, I looked forward to the challenge. I put myself into the right state of mind and what a difference it made. I completed the whole thing like a champ. I almost felt silly for complaining about it last week. It wasn’t so bad.

This just proves the power of the human mind and the theory of meeting the expectations that you set. If you expect something to be hard and grueling it typically is. If you expect a bad day, chances are you will get it. From now on I am expecting to enjoy my P90X Yoga routines.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Real Secret

I have officially recovered from my mental setback and I thought it prudent to publish a new blog post BEFORE I attempt P90X yoga today. I had a week to fall back in love with yoga and it was easy to do from reading more of my teacher training textbooks. The book I’m reading now (and I’m sorry that I don’t have to title to share at this moment) goes over more of the science of the human body. This stuff completely fascinates me. It explains how every single thing you do requires you to exert energy. Even just a mere thought of doing something flexes your brain to send a signal to the muscles required to perform that action. It went on to explain how human emotions can waste exceeding amounts of energy. For instance, getting upset and angry makes your heart beat faster and affects the body in so many negative ways. Just minutes of anger can waste a day’s worth of energy.

The more I read about the physiological effects of yoga on the human body, the more I think that yoga is the true ‘Secret’ to human kind. How could anybody read these textbooks and not embrace yoga with both arms so tight and never let it go?

This weekend I saw a report on 60 Minutes about a new drug called Resveratrol that is supposedly going to slow down the aging process in humans. The report went on to explain the different studies, like calorie restriction, and its affect on mice. I kept finding myself saying, “That’s what the yogis do.” No Resveratrol needed and these yogis seem to have figured out the natural way to reduce the speed of the aging process. I’m sold. Of course this doesn’t mean that I won’t be first in line once they release Resveratrol! Taking that supplement AND doing yoga should keep my young forever.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Mental Setback

I’m halfway through with my second week of P90X. I managed to squeak out last week with convincing myself that my 30 minute Rodney Yee Power Strength yoga was an acceptable substitute for the P90X yoga. Who was I kidding? Truth be told I hate the P90X Yoga and I would gladly bike 50 miles or lift weights for hours in place of it.

Today was the dreaded yoga day and I ran out of excuses for not doing the real thing. I only had time for 45 minutes of it and it kicked my butt. Not only did it drain my strength, but it drained my spirit. I hate swallowing the fact that I lost most of the strength that I spent months building last year. But even harder to swallow was the fact that 15 minutes into today’s session I was cursing yoga. I mean I think I really hated it. It was just too hard. This past weekend I read an important part of my yoga text book. It clearly stated that a good yoga program ‘should not go to the point of fatigue.’ Well, that means that I shouldn’t go past the first 10 minutes of P90X. It’s such a double-edged sword. If I lift weights and don’t feel sore the next day I’m disappointed and feel as though I didn’t work hard enough. I know that if I attempted a yoga session that didn’t hurt and pose a big challenge I wouldn’t be satisfied. Yet I long for a yoga session that I really enjoy; one that leaves me feeling refreshed and mentally renewed instead of drained and depressed.

Doing the P90X yoga is definitely not good for my dream of becoming a yoga teacher and it’s going to be hard to maintain my passion and love for yoga during the next 90 days. Maybe I should go back to my plan of substituting yoga that I actually like in place of the dreaded program. I have to keep reminding myself that yoga is about more than just the challenging poses. Maybe I should type that 100 times over to get it through my head.

Yoga is about more than just the challenging poses.
Yoga is about more than just the challenging poses.
Yoga is about more than just the challenging poses.
Yoga is about more than just the challenging poses.
Yoga is about more than just the challenging poses.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Yoga—The Fountain of Youth

I completed my first text book in my yoga teacher training and the part of what I learn that is sticking out in my mind the most is the very sad fact that at the age of 35 the human body starts to decay. DECAY. That is the exact word the text book used. My goodness that was hard to swallow. I also noticed that one of my test questions instructs me to create a yoga routine that would be suitable for somebody between the ages of 18 and 35. I didn’t realize the magic behind the number 35. I mean, who knew that you started to decay after that? How much worrying should I do now that I’m the dreaded 4-0? Yoga was supposed to train my brain to be more at ease. This is not helping!

Armed with this new knowledge that I’ve been decaying for 5 years now, I decided to take some of my free time away from reading books and put some time into getting back in shape. Enough with the books; I was ready to get physical. For the past 15 years of my life I managed to stay extremely fit and active. I’m the type of person that actually feels guilty if I don’t exercise every day. But, like most people I managed to collect a few excuses over the past few months. It all started with a rib injury that completely knocked me out of any physical activity for 4+ weeks. That was torture. From there I entered the crazy holiday season and why start working out then?

So here I am slipping into greater decay. What can I do to get into great shape and fast? I knew the answer to that question . . . P90X. I completed this awesome work out last year and I know exactly what the results can be. Now let me preface this by saying that I was already in good shape when I started this program last year. I was lifting weights 4X a week and trail running 3X a week. When I made the decision to start P90X last weekend I had a sinking feeling that I would never make it through the first video. Here I was starting after doing no working out for over 3 months. Very scary.

I completed the first video which was Core Synergistics and although it was challenging, I was able to do it all, and do it better than I did the first time last year. As a matter of fact, tonight completes my first week of P90X and I was surprised at how easy I got through it. I set my expectations for trouble with my 40 year decaying body, but I proved myself wrong. How can this be? How can I still be in good shape without the constant weight lifting and cardio? I truly believe that yoga is the key to maintaining a strong, youthful body. There is no doubt that P90X whipped me into great shape, but it was yoga that kept me there.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The Bridge Between Yoga and Excercise

I took a little break from my certification text book. I recently ran into a fellow yogi that used to own a studio near my office. I took several of her meditation classes last year and they were my first introduction to meditation. It was those classes that made me realize that I have a lot to learn on the subject. Needless to say I was thrilled to learn that this new friend, Cheryl Jones-Reardon, recently published a book entitled Mindful Exercise, A Bridge Between Yoga and Exercise. I just couldn't wait to read it and since it was relatively short and easy to read I decided to dive right in.

What’s interesting about this book is the emphasis on mindfulness which involves being in the present moment. My experience is that many yoga classes are not mindful. A lot of teachers are still stuck in the old fitness mentality where the Asanas or postures simply replace push-ups. Mindful exercise offers a workout and a “work-in” experience, which cultivates moment-to-moment awareness through the breath and movement. During Mindful exercise we practice paying attention to sensations, thoughts, and feelings. We move the body with compassion, gratitude, and honor for the capabilities of the body as they are in the present moment. Mindful Exercise presents seven spiritual practices, one for each day of the week, with illustrations of their corresponding exercise trios. A specific format for this twenty-minute practice is also presented, and an audio CD is enclosed that guides you through each meditation or movement experience. Cheryl’s book/CD is the perfect tool for beginners and for seasoned yoga teachers who wish to bring greater awareness to their teaching. Mindful Exercise sells for $20.95 and you can order this book/CD at

Monday, January 05, 2009

The Beginning of My Yoga Teacher Training

I’m in the process of reading my first text book. It’s called The Complete Yoga Book by James Hewitt. Upon first glance and a quick thumb through I thought it would bore me to tears. It’s mostly all text with some very cheesy illustrations sprinkled throughout. At the rate I normally read books (extremely slowly) I thought it would take me a year to get through this first book. I just couldn’t stop thinking that I’ll never learn yoga through a black and white, mostly just words and no pictures text book. But I reluctantly stuck my nose in the book and got busy.

Here I am two weeks later loving the darn book. I’m on page 266—probably more pages than I ever read in a two week stretch— and I’m completely fascinated. I have been doing yoga as nothing more than an exercise for over 7 years. I like the challenge of the physical exertion and just about all I know of yoga is the different poses. I was very naive to think that teacher training was all about memorizing the different postures. There is so much more to yoga and I’m so excited to dive in and soak it all up.

My text book is divided into three sections and it only took me three minutes to figure out that this is what yoga is really about: Beathing, Posture, and Meditation. I have a pretty good grip on the postures part, but I really know nothing about the breathing and the meditation. I still have a hard time believing that I could read nearly a hundred pages about something as simple as breathing and be fascinated by it all. Non-yogis probably think we are all nuts. After all, what can be so complicated about the simple act of breathing? They have no idea . . .

One of the most interesting parts of this first part of the book was the exploration of the extraordinary feats that very experienced yogis can perform. Now, when I say “experienced yogis” I mean Buddhist monks that dedicate their lives to meditation. But still, the fact that humans can put their bodies into such a relaxed state that they can be buried alive for several hours, or even days, is positively amazing. It proves that the power of any human being’s mind is limitless.

Another extraordinary feat that particularly interested me is Tumo, engendering body heat at will. By combining advanced breath control, concentration, and imagination naked or skimpily-clad yogis can sit immobile and meditate for hours on exposed mountain tops in sub-zero temperatures. I can barely stand to be more than 6 feet away from our wood stove in CT without complaining that I’m freezing. Some good breath control and meditation can do me a world of good.

I’m now in the middle of reading about all the different postures. This is probably my least favorite part of the book. As a graphic designer, I’m a very visual person and I’m having a hard time reading every little nuance of each pose. I would much rather WATCH it than read about it, but none-the-less I’m very much enjoying stage one of my remote yoga teacher training.