I think I’ll stick with a theme again this week, because, well, I want too. And it makes it easier to focus my brain. I’ve been talking to myself about what types of exercise I like lately, so I think I’ll write about exercise this week.

First up, let’s not call it exercise. I hate that whole concept. “Exercise” fits in with that whole overly body conscious, calorie counting, self-focused, blah-blah-blah that I hate about our culture.  Our bodies were made to move and be active and do things, but “exercise” is usually more about being something (thin, first, strong) than doing something. I’m more into doing things. I love to see what this body God created can do and I love to help myself feel my best by moving my muscles and making a body-mind connection.

That leads easily to my first topic. Yoga.

I love yoga and have been practicing it off and on for about 10 years. I’m not some super yoga-y person. I’m very inflexible and nobody would look to me for help in their poses. But yoga has helped me a lot. Here’s some of the things yoga has given me:

  • Slow breath – I’ve never done a scientific study, but I have definitely done some un-scientific comparisons with other people and I breathe a lot slower than many people. I can’t say for sure it’s all yoga, but I know that yoga has helped me find a slow rhythm for my breathing and that helps me immensely. Slow breath helps me get more oxygen. It helps me stay calm. It helps me stay grounded.
  • A love for my abdomen – This one actually ties in with the breath one. Yoga encourages you to breathe into your deep abdomen. Instead of restricting my tummy, holding it flatter with the force of my concentration and muscles, yoga has me breathe into the fullness of yourself. You cannot loathe your tummy and wish it flatter while doing this. Impossible. In fact you come away with an appreciation for all the help your abdominal muscles (even weak ones) are giving you as you work through the poses, simply by helping you breathe deep. The genius thing is that you do actually hold your abdomen well after doing this with no crunching, restricting or anything. Love it!
  • Flexibility – Anyone watching me would need convincing that yoga has helped me with flexibility because to use that word along with my body is to invite laughter. I am not and have never been a flexible person. It’s genetic. From my Dad. But yoga has helped me so much. And now when I’m tight, I know what warm up poses I can do to help me lengthen a bit.
  • Self-appreciation – That sounds very vain and I don’t mean it in a vain way – that would be an “exercise” mindset. What I mean is that I always leave a yoga session appreciating what my body can do. I have found that I’m much more likely to be more physical, less lazy, and aware of my body movements after doing yoga. We should appreciate our bodies and what they can do and I love that yoga is one of the tools I can use to help me with that.

Next up, we’ll go outside (probably not literally) and discuss another favorite – Hiking.