Don’t Sweat Yoga!
I recently began doing yoga. Never before did I imagine that contorting my body into obscene positions classified as a workout. There I was wrong on two counts: yoga positions needn’t be complicated and even the easiest ones induce a full-body sweat. My reasons for choosing yoga were simple: 1) I needed a workout that doesn’t require I leave the house 2) I downloaded a free yoga routine onto my iPad 3) I want to be limber. I’m not asking to be contortionist; I just want my husband to stop calling me Stiff-o… See, I’m the antithesis of Plastic Man. I haven’t been able to touch my toes since middle school. My split is nothing more than a wide stance. The last time I tried to do a backbend, I couldn’t stand up straight for a week. I’m not eighty years old. I’m not even thirty.
My point is that anyone with half a brain can do yoga. It uses the same mind-and-body abilities that sports does (increased concentration, intuition, endurance, strength, power, precision, and grace) but, unlike sports, is doable for even the athletically-challenged. There are lots of online resources for practitioners of yoga, but they tend to be convoluted with jargon and positions that are not appropriate for beginners. That’s why I’ve carefully created the following mom-friendly workout, which I sincerely hope you enjoy:
1. Create a Peaceful Atmosphere. A calm environment makes for a calm mind. Wait until your baby goes down for his nap before attempting to commit to a workout. Make space large enough for you to lie flat on your back with your arms at your sides.
2. Put on comfortable, non-constricting clothes. They needn’t be stylish. I often wear just my nursing bra and a pair of bleach-stained granny panties, to give you an idea.
3. Choose soft music, sounds of nature, or the beauty of silence. I like Yanni because the music makes me feel spiritual and grounded, but mostly, just really cool.
4. Begin with a nice, easy stretch. Yoga, like any physical activity or exercise, can strain muscles or joints, so it’s important to loosen up before working out. Try gentle movements that elongate your sides, arms, and legs.
5. Bring the baby to his bed and pat his back until he goes to sleep. Continue to breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth.
6. Begin with Position One: Mountain Pose. Mountain Pose is the basic standing pose. It is the place from which to start and return. Stand erect with your feet together and your arms relaxed at your sides. Close your eyes. Gently rock forward into the toes and back into the heels, coming to rest in the space between.
7. Cut up an apple for the baby and give him his picture book. Continue to breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth.
8. Repeat Position One: Mountain Pose.
9. Transition into Position Two: Warrior Pose. Right Side. Stand with your legs apart, your right foot facing out at a ninety-degree angle, your left foot facing in fifteen degrees. Extend arms out to sides, shoulders relaxed. Lower your body, your right knee bending but not extending beyond your right foot, your left leg straight. Align your body so it’s facing forward, hips square, nose pointing toward right foot. Hold thirty seconds.
10. Go to the bathroom. Squat over the toilet to work your glutes.
11. Get a drink of water. Do some pelvic thrusts to keep your heart rate up. Yeah, you know what I’m talking about.
12. Position Two: Warrior Pose. Left Side. Keep those arms up and shoulders relaxed!
13. Click through playlist until you find a song you really like. This should take no longer than five minutes. Take a rest.
14. Get a drink of water. Do some pelvis thrusts.
15. Pat yourself on the back for having completed your first yoga workout. Take a nap.