Do You Think Patanjali Had a Gym Membership?
Do you exercise in addition to your Ashtanga practice? For a long time, I didn't. Because my yoga practice was so physically demanding, I never felt like additional exercise was necessary. However, after a few years of yoga and nothing else, I started to notice things about my body that didn't feel right—weight gain, sluggishness, fatigue, and diminished lung capacity. A visit with an Ayurvedic doctor confirmed my suspicions; for optimal health, in addition to my yoga practice, I needed at least 45 minutes of cardio three days a week.
My practice often leaves me feeling tired and sore. How was I going to exercise in addition to yoga? Where was I going to find the extra time when yoga already takes up 90 minutes of my day? How was I going to retain the elasticity within my muscles while performing strength building cardio exercises like running, biking, and swimming?
For a long time, I found excuses not to exercise. I even latched on to those Ashtanga yoga teachers that say additional exercise isn't necessary, while ignoring the words of a trained Ayurvedic doctor. Everyone is different, but for me the needs of my body were far more important than the multitude of excuses I came up with.
This winter, my husband and I got a membership at the local fitness center. We were both hesitant at first, but decided to give it a go. We felt a positive difference in our bodies immediately! And any lingering worries about how additional exercise would effect my yoga practice quickly dissipated.
From that moment on, we decided to place more emphasis on health and wellbeing. We've always been active with yoga, walking, and biking. However, making physical activity a daily priority in addition to our yoga practice was a new and welcomed challenge. We rearranged schedules, let go of unnecessary tasks, and fully focussed our attention on what is most important to us—family, health, yoga, and exercise.
Yoga is a remarkable tool when used properly. It has the power to transform the human body and mind. But just like any form of exercise, it will not give you everything you need. Diversity within your health and fitness regimen is the key to long lasting wellbeing. Also, it's important to remember... although physical in nature, Ashtanga yoga isn't exercise, it's a spiritual practice.
My Ayurvedic doctor says that Ashtangis are known as the only yoga practitioners that feel as though exercise outside of yoga practice is unnecessary. Whether or not that's a true statement, don't be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone and try something different. There are so many ways to stay active! And if you feel like you don't have the time, I challenge you to take a look at that. When something is truly important, more often than not, time can be found.
I hope you'll try something new this week! Even a brisk ten minute walk with your pups or kiddos will do the trick. Or maybe think twice before scrolling through your Facebook feed and opt for a short bike ride instead. Every little bit counts.
As the saying goes, where there's a will, there's a way.