Alright everyone, I told you I was up to something two weeks ago. I am periodically bringing on guest writers. These are professionals in the industry that are stoked to share their expertise and help give you all a different perspective on the learning thing. I’m very excited to bring to you my first guest, good friend, fellow Calgarian and amazing talent, Janis Isaman. She’s going to talk about her experience with the misconceptions of Yoga in the fitness industry and give you some insight of why it may or may not be the thing for you. Amazing how your understanding can totally shape the effect something has on your lifestyle. So without further adieu, I bring to you Ms. Janis Isaman…
I get clients who stand in front of me talk about yoga in an offensive manner.
Offensive, as in: “I’ll do yoga on my days off from seeing you.” Aka: Yoga is a “rest day” program and therefore doesn’t “count” toward achieving “real” fitness goals.
(Note: I don’t want to wander into the “what is yoga” debate in this short post. So let’s simply presume we are talking about Yoga as the pursuit of moving your body, exclusive of any spiritual or mental benefits. So if you are a yoga teacher, don’t email me with the many meditative or spiritual benefits. Let’s just acknowledge that we both know and focus on asana for this post).
So here’s the thing.
Yoga is not “rest.” Sleeping is rest. Any pursuit of any kind that moves your body is movement, not rest.
We have a cultural obsession with things that “count”. And if there aren’t measurable caloric benefits from doing it, it must not “count”. If it doesn’t “count”, it necessarily gets lumped into “rest, or even worse: “active rest.” Seriously: can we stop building programs that include “active rest?”
Yoga does not have to be done in a hot room or at full effort to “count”. I have personally experienced dramatic body transformation from practising yin, which theoretically burns no calories and should change anything about my body. But it does.
You can get injured doing yoga. I have.
You can change your body doing restorative yoga. I have.
You don’t need to punish yourself for “resting” the next day with a hard workout to make up for it. I used to do that.
Yoga can certainly vary in perceived difficulty. But doing things that are “easy” doesn’t make them “rest”. Next time you are on vacation, tell me that walking for 12 straight hours for 5 days in a row is restful on your body. You don’t need to be at maximum exertion to gain mental or physical health benefits.
In general, yoga is a complete movement system. Key word: movement. Even yin is movement. So yoga “counts,” every time.
Rather than thinking of Yoga as rest, we need to think of Yoga as balance. The busier you are, the more your body movement program needs to include body sustainability work and restorative work.
So if you are a mother of a young child, an executive, middle aged anyone, or a type A person: you probably need some yin or restorative yoga to balance out the busy and the drive.
The more sedentary you are, the more you need activity, effort and action in your body movement program. So: students and office workers, maybe consider some active postures and poses.
A fitness professional with yoga training can help you figure out an appropriate yoga program. Not to rest, but to balance the rest of your life and life choices, and to smooth the edges so that you can keep going. Yoga is about sustaining you, not about resting while you are secretly doing Warrior poses.
Oh, and by the way….Yoga doesn’t necessarily EVER make you more flexible. You might be following instructions and cues that aren’t helping you. You might be doing things outside class that make it impossible to get gains. You might be doing movements that aren’t good for your body. Or you might be at bone compression and there no more range to gain. But that’s a whole other rant…