June 17, 2010

Yoga For Dummies. Help Me?

So I've had a gym  membership more or less the whole time I've been in Madrid, and to be be honest, I've been pretty good about going. I average about two or three times a week - which includes two-week periods without going near the gym, and weeks where I somehow have the discipline to go all five weekdays (I've never gone on the weekend).

I haven't been baffled by the results, but I also haven't been disappointed (let's just say that the discipline I occasionally have towards going to the gym doesn't always carry over to my diet. Food is just too delicious!). Yes, I've dropped a couple of pounds, but  mainly I've maintained a healthy weight while getting in better shape (which ultimately is what counts the most, right? ...right?).

But one thing I've realized (maybe a little late in the game) is that a huge part of working out is being in the right "place", physically, to be able to do it. I mean, being stretched and limber (as much as your body can be, seeing as it's a work in progress) and having muscles willing to do the work that it takes to get in shape. You can just start running, but chances are that unless you've done a little prep work you won't make it very far.

My gym routine has usually consisted of thirty minutes of cardio and thirty minutes of weights, with the cardio including a slow warm up period, and the weights a cool down. It worked fine, but it wasn't spectacular. I realize now that I should have been doing a lot more pre-and post-work out stretching and floor exercises.

Obviously, with my lame track record in working out and exercise common sense, it's taken me three months to figure this out, but this week, after a conversation about yoga for runners with a co-worker, I decided to look into at-home yoga and pilates to do as much to support a cardio and weights workout as possible. From when I leave in a couple of weeks until I get to school in the fall, I probably won't have any regular exercise routine, since I'll be moving around so much, so this might not be a huge help at this point.

But, better late than never, right?

So I'm officially dabbling in yoga for beginners (read: ungraceful, non-flexible dummies), and I'm feeling good about it! I found a couple of videos on youtube and elsewhere; a yoga for runners for after regular workouts, and core-strengthening workouts for days I can't make it to the gym, and a few pilates podcasts. But I really don't know anything beyond what my search engine finds for me, so I need a little help.

Does anyone have any tips or suggestions? Know any great (free) online videos? Or even a great DVD that you swear by? Does special gear make a big difference? Or are a mat and comfortable clothes all you really need? What are the best pre- and post-workout poses?

I'm a total newbie, so really, every little bit of advice (even about anything exercise-related, not just yoga) helps!

In the meantime, I've put together the beginning of a yoga wish list of adorable exercise accessories that would help me get motivated to work out!

Thanks in advance for all you suggestions! :)



Crystal said...

Make sure you get a thick mat. Some are definitely thinner than others and don't add much comfort if you are on a hard floor. I have some blocks and a strap but I have never used them. I also like the Yoga Zone videos.

I have been doing Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred which stresses doing full body strengthing so that you get best use of your time (new concept to me). In the amount of time you do bicep curls at the gym on her video you also do lunges so your legs and arms are worked in the same amount of time.

J. said...

I tried yoga once... but as I tend to do with all things I quickly forgot about it and moved on to something else. I've wanted to get back into it, though- I just love the idea of it!
I love the workout clothes from Victoria's Secret- but unfortunately I never look like the models when I try them on, so I've quit ordering them! ;)
I am of no help- but I wish you luck and the willpower to stick with it!
PS- I received by brooch- wore it yesterday and had TONS of compliments on it! I love it! Thanks again, my dear!

Laura said...

Hey girl!
I absolutely LOVE yoga! and I'm definitely into working out as well.. Would love to give you any tips you would like. My fav yoga clothes are Lululemon. They're a tad expensive, but they're soo worth it.. Makes working out and doing yoga so much better because you aren't ever "adjusting" or riding up or anything. Yoga has done wonders to my running (and friends have said so too!) if you have the chance, try a class at your gym... (if you have one to go to ..) or whatever city you're in.. google classes and try one. I'd start with a beginners class.. or Ashtanga. Then work your way up to Power flow yoga (which I LOVE!).. With you 30 mins of cardio.. try to work intervals into it. It helps with getting your heart rate up and down and gives you a better workout. :) sorry.. this is long!!

Jen said...

Does your gym offer Yoga classes too? You can get all of the videos, etc. that you want, but you really need to take a class here and there to truly experience Yoga. all you need to start is a good, thick, sticky mat and some comfy clothes.

I HIGHLY recommend those Victoria's Secret Yoga pants with the fold-over waist. I have three pairs of them, and I LOVE them.