OK I admit it…I want it all. I want to be a super flexible, meditating yogi, I want to have that firm round backside that only squats and deadlifts give you…oh and I wanna be able to run marathons. Am I asking for too much? Maybe….
Life before my YTTC…
Before I went to India to do my YTTC I guess I was an ‘all rounder’, I weight trained 3-5 times a week, ran on average 10k 3 times a week and did my yoga practice 5 times or more a week. I was happy with my routine and thought I was pretty flexible.
I thought I was flexible…
My eyes were opened from Day 1 of my training course in Goa. It was very obvious who were the full time yogis in the room and to be honest I was pretty shocked at my lack of flexibility. Now of course, we are trained to not compare out practice to others and to not let the ‘ego’ take over but trust me that is easier said than done when your fellow student is gliding up into an effortless handstand and gracefully placing both legs behind their head….I was just happy I could still breathe!
It was a massive learning curve for me because it educated me on my body and why my hips and shoulders were so tight (too many heavy weight sessions and long runs and not enough stretching), it also made me aware of my ‘ego’ – I never thought I had one really, but I remember being really annoyed with myself because I couldn’t do some poses and envious of those who could. I learnt to recognise this and gradually over the weeks I learnt to stop the comparison and focus on my own development, keeping the ego in check!
Something’s gotta give…
I spoke at length with my anatomy teacher about my fitness routine and it was clear that if I wanted to focus on yoga and deepen my practice I had to give something, or everything else up. Ultimately the physical aim of yoga is to lengthen muscles, providing greater flexibility and mobility with a focus on body weight strength. When you weight train and run what you’re actually doing is tearing your muscles, so when they repair they the fibres knit back together a lot tighter, shortening the muscle which gives you that ‘built’ defined look.
After 4 weeks in India, completing my 200 hours of training and living and breathing the yogic way of life I was convinced that all I ever wanted to do was practice yoga, and when I returned to the UK I practised at least once a day. After 2 weeks…I started to get an itch for a run or to pick up some weight. So I found myself in an internal battle – do I focus on my yoga practice or do I give in to what my mind and body are craving for with the knowledge that it sets my practice back a little each time? I drove myself mad with it for a week and then I eventually caved, going on a 2 4 mile runs and doing 3 weight sessions all in one week (if you’re gonna do it so it properly right!?). Instantly I felt my hamstrings and hips tighten, despite making sure I warmed up pre work out and gave myself a good stretch after each activity.
You can do anything, but you can’t do everything
So I was back to square one – what do I give up? Yoga was not an option; it’s too much of a part of my life now – as well as a career! It was time to prioritise and face that fact that I can do anything, but not everything.
So what does my routine look like now? Well no surprise there is #yogaeverydamnday be it my own practice or teaching, and meditation. But the key to life is balance right? And I can’t deny my love of weight lifting and running. For me, I need a bit of variety when it comes to physical training. So on top of my practice I weight train twice a week now, one day for my legs and one day for upper body. With my running I’ve taken this down to 3-4 times a week max and ensure I don’t run above 4 miles at any time. I make sure I leave time at the end of any session for a full stretch (at least 20 minutes) after I train and always plan in a full yoga practice either later the same, day or the following day.
There’s more to life than a peachy ass
I can’t deny that my change in routine has been a struggle – I really do miss training the way I used to sometimes (and the way my body looked), but I also cannot deny the benefits that yoga brings to my life both on a physical and mental level. My range of motion is the best it’s ever been, I still have a way to go with my flexibility but every day I see an improvement but more important than any of that I am the happiest I have ever been in my life. I feel at peace with myself and have a totally different outlook on life which, to me, is worth more than any amount of muscle definition. So all in all I’ve let go of my ego and the everlasting quest to get that ‘peachy ass’ and excepted that yoga is now a full time part of my life and training. My time now is dedicated to deepening my own practice and ensuring I grow as yoga teacher every day, anything else is an added bonus!
If you have any questions about how to integrate yoga in to your daily routine feel free to drop me and email at firstname.lastname@example.org