My first ever experience with Yoga came when I got to Florida before my first ever pro baseball season My mom had given one of those Byron Baptist yoga DVD’s with a mat and some blocks and said I should give it a try. So, one afternoon, in the little empty college townhouse room that I was crashing on before Spring training started, I slipped the DVD into my computer ad gave it a try. First impression: this is stupid. It was boring, way to fru-fru and spiritual for me I felt, especially with those damn cross-legged “om” chants at the end. So, I slipped the DVD’s into the bottom of my bag and went about my life.
A good 5 years later, baseball was over, and I had dedicated my time to training for my first marathon. Now, as an avid runner that this point, I was becoming quickly aware of the stigma of runners, tight as hell! So, I wanted to find a way to keep my flexibility and mobility even while looking ridiculous miles each and every week. So, I began doing a little research to maybe join a yoga class near by. I tried a couple places, and while I felt better than my DVD yoga trial, I still didn’t feel any sort of connection to the whole process. I honestly felt that all I needed to do was commit to stretching for a good 15-20 minutes after each workout I had and I would get all the same benefits. Still, I could not really find a logical argument against the millions of people worldwide who so passionately practiced yoga. The history of it, the greater benefits of it, not just increased flexibility and mobility, but strength both outwardly and inwardly. If so many people could feel so great about it, I wanted to feel great about it too!
I finally found a cool little place that practiced a form of yoga called Ashtanga. What attracted me to the place was it offered classes at a time that worked really well for me, the instructor for those times was an avid ultra runner, and Ashtanga, from what I could understand, was a pretty “strong” style of yoga. Very quickly I found out what all the hype was about! I hit a sort of “zone” within my second class and I just focused in on each and every movement and pose, trying to connect my breathing with each movement and trying to sink further and further into each pose. I was by no means “good” at yoga (what I mean by this is that I couldn’t even come close to finding the positions most of the other practitioners were finding), but the positive support by the instructor kept me going. This helped me realize that being “good” at yoga simply means you understand how to practice in the moment. It means you’re not crazy restless, looking around, thinking about random other things and so on. The second you are able to just exist for each breath, movement and pose, you become a yogi, and that’s what all the fuss is about!
I practice Ashtanga for about 6 months, twice a week without fail. Then, once my marathoning took a turn for the crazy (doing one every month, and doing that damn 50-miler), I just sort of stopped going. Until now. I have thought about returning for a couple years, I even took a class here and there at other locations, just never found that groove again. But now, I am about a month into the same class schedule I have almost 3 years ago and I am really feeling all the positive effects yoga has to offer.
Now, I realize that everyone’s practice means something different to each person. And this of course, is what I like so much about it all. But what I personally like is that I have an organized time slot where I can focus my mind and body in on the same thing. Each time I go in I am asked to push my mobility and strength to new limits, all while straying inward and focused. It is hard work but is SO rewarding each and every minute! I normally don’t like repetitive, redundant things, they tend to bore me; but for some reason, the amount of focus I put into all of this allows each movement to feel totally different each time. It’s a pretty cool experience.
So, if you are a yoga practitioner, keep up the good work (and make sure it’s not the ONLY thing you doing for fitness!). If you are not, if you’ve tried it and don’t like it, or if you’ve never tried it at all, take a new approach and give a fair chance. I would generally make a pretty confident assumption that if you don’t like it, it probably has less to do with the yoga, and more to do with your inability to focus. Take the time to find an instructor you have confidence in, and a space you feel comfortable in, and then begin to focus on YOU!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
I am sitting at Lindsey and my “home” for the time being; and, along with making about 10 pounds of Courage Bars (they are settling in the fridge as we speak!), I have been bearing down on the focus that begins tomorrow for me. There has been so much going on over the past couple months: gym space search, house hunting, shifting of programming in the gym, bringing on tons of new clients, two of my best friends moving away, prepping for the “Into The Wild” adventure, and that is just skimming the surface. All of this stuff I’ve decided to take on has taken away from the focus I decided I needed towards training for next years CrossFit Games. So, while enjoying the wedding of my good ol” host sister from my baseball playing days, I have hit that point where it is time to re-focus my attention. This blog has been a really good recourse for me in terms of getting my thoughts out there, and it’s time to make myself accountable as publicly as I know how.
Food. As most of my readers probably know, I have been delving a little deeper as of late into nutrition. But, over the past couple weeks, my own ability to follow all of my incredibly intriguing findings has slipped away like crazy! I need to get back on track! So, tomorrow it happens. I am back on my eating every 3 hours kick that had such a great effect on my body fat, mood and energy. I am back on eating 100% clean. To make sense of this, if you’ve ever heard of Whole9, it’s basically like that. I am eating chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds and TONS of veggies. I will be consuming ZERO sugar (in any form at all), dairy, and oil and I will be having a bowl of oatmeal almost every day which will be the only grains I’ll consume. Eating like this did so much for me and I want to find that again.
Sleep. I have been having a harder and harder time getting to sleep at a reasonable hour and I am re-committing to getting into bed by 11pm every night. If I fall asleep then or not, doesn’t matter, I want to form the habit of getting in there and letting my body begin to relax at an earlier hour than the 1am or worse I have been using.
Training. Here is where it gets fun! My training has actually been really good, but with the crap nutrition and lack of sleep, my gains have been slipping a bit. Also, I feel as through the program I’ve been on has been so open to modifications by myself, that I end up taking advantage of that situation. What I mean by this is that it feels like each day I’m sort of just winging the whole thing. I need more structure if I want to get to where I want to get. So, I did what I would suggest to anyone who wants to get their training in order, I hired up a coach. Rudy Nielson is the owner and head coach out of Outlaw CorssFit in Alexandria, VA. I met him a couple years back and he has proven himself over and over again as a coach who produces top level CrossFitters. All of his athletes are such beasts, so, I figured I’d get in touch with him and see what he could put together for me. Now, this is going to be an interesting process as I am a bit of a programming geek. Let’s put it this way, Rudy can expect my open and honest critic on this process along the way! I expect nothing but great things from this, and I am so excited to have a program put together for me for pretty much the first time in my life! It’s time to see what happens!
I’m not done with my program though. All last week I was realizing how sporadic my actual training is. I would workout in the mornings sometimes, sometimes later on in the day. Sometimes I would go ahead and do 3 workouts in a day, just kind of depended on how I felt and the time I had. I have always known that for me, to get really, really good at something, I need to get on a schedule and stick to it. So, I put together a plan where my workouts are added into this schedule as well. I am not going to hold myself to it like crazy, as I think that leads to a sort of obsessive behavior. I just want to have more structure. So again, starting tomorrow I will be weight training on Rudy’s program, 3 days on, 1 off, 2 on, 1 off. I will be getting 2 times per week of ashtanga yoga at Ashtanga Yoga Center DC and swimming at Wilson Aquatic Center. I will also most likely be getting back into my old Jiu-Jitsu training twice per week at Ultimate Heights MMA (I will be writing about this a bit later…). All of this is set in a schedule in terms of what days and times as my sleep and fueling schedule will work with it all.
Whew! I am so damn excited to get started! This whole scheduling concept is also going to be set a little towards my blog/article writing as well. So expect to see some new patterns in posts. This one, the update on my training with some insight into why and so on, can be expecting early each and every week. You’ll see what’s to come the rest of the week!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
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