As a yoga teacher, and owner of a yoga business, I often promote to those interested, the benefits of yoga. When someone says, “I’m not flexible,” I tell them that the physical practice of yoga is not meant only for “flexible” people, but for anyone willing to move in their own bodies according to their own limitations and abilities.
But for those not interested in yoga, I offer the wisdom of my father, Kirk of Kirk Fitness Systems a resource for person fitness and self-defense training, who says, “just do something.” It doesn’t matter what it is– explore various physical activities, do the one(s) that you enjoy, and move on from there. Though I offer many modifications and alternatives for poses throughout class, and as much as I might encourage people to participate in a yoga class, for some, it is simply not an enjoyable experience. Perhaps, you’d rather walk, or run, or bike, swim, weight train or take up some seasonal sport. Being aware of what gets you up and moving and what activities are most motivating to you is a huge step toward finding an exercise or group of exercises that works for you.
Recently I’ve started golfing way more than I ever have before. In past years, I’d go to the driving range a couple times, just to practice up for a company golf outing I attend and help organize at my job as a payroll manager for a commercial flooring company. However, this year I’ve been finding golf a fantastic outlet for stress-relief as well as a great leg and core strengthening workout. So to add to the yoga, weight training, and running that I do, I have arranged my schedule to fit golf into the mix.
There are 4 Key things to keep in mind as you explore your options for bringing more physical exercise into your life: Are you more social or independent? What are your mind/body limitations and abilities? What do you like to do? Have your interests/priorities changes?
Social vs. Independent
Do you enjoy spending time with people more than not? Or, are you more of a lone wolf, who’d prefer to enjoy time alone, away from the crowd? Having this awareness of self can help steer you toward activities and exercises that incorporate social or independent elements. Maybe you’re a little bit of both. Plan a day to workout with people and another day to workout alone. Even if you’re quarantined, many of us have access to technologies that can bring people together for virtual exercise.
What are your limitations and abilities?
Understanding your body’s abilities is key in figuring out where to begin putting together your own exercise routine. If your knees are beyond repair, you know running is not going to be an option for you. But there are so many other options to focus on. Swimming, chair yoga, and resistance or weight-training exercises that don’t further aggravate the knees can be great options. You can also talk to your doctor about physical therapy and how you can continue to keep your muscles strong with low impact movement that supports you wherever your body is at. Perhaps your body performs at an athletic level, and you are looking for more challenging movement, consider exploring something you’ve never done before. Maybe you take up golf or gardening (like I did), or you find a place that has an obstacle course. Once at a park with my niece, a man brought his daughter, and while she played, he did a few chin-ups and leg-lifts on the monkey bars. If you have kids, the park is a great place to get in your workout and to encourage and influence children in healthy living.
What do you like to do?
It seems like such a simple question, but one people don’t always consider when it comes to exercise. Even though we call it a “workout” and even though we do want to put some effort into our movement, you’ll be much more likely to be consistent if you do something you actually enjoy. In an interview with Bryan Kest, an LA-based Master Yoga Teacher, I came across on YouTube, though he teaches power yoga, he said the best thing you can do for your body and mind is walk and meditate. We may think of walking as leisurely, but for someone who never works out and even for those who do, walking can greatly impact your health in a positive way, and is something you can do alone or with others. I find walking with my husband a great way to get our bodies and minds moving. It’s when we’re walking that we often have our best conversations. Maybe you paint, or build, or garden, these are all activities that can help support your physical health. Simply move. And move in a way you enjoy. Dance in the kitchen. Crank up some fun tunes while cleaning the house. Do a few squats while binge-watching your favorite series. Find what works best for you, scratch everything else.
Have your interests/priorities changed?
Lastly, take some time to examine your current life situation. Like seasons, our lives change and evolve. Our bodies change and can adapt to change if we are willing to acknowledge that we may not be able to do exactly everything we once could, or on the other hand, we may be able to do more than we once could.
Jobs change, family grow, our environments change. Global pandemics completely upend our way of living. Our ability to adapt to the changes around us whether within or out of our control, is one big determining factor in our ability to be consistent with keeping our bodies moving, keeping our minds active, and keeping our spirits up. This is not always easy, and there is room for rest, to step back and look at what has changed, how we have changed, and what we can do right now to move forward with routines, exercises, activities that fit with our current lifestyle.
Bottom line, make what you do for your physical, mental, and emotional health about you! Becoming more and more aware of where you are at in your health and wellness journey, you’ll learn what motivates you to move. Often in the yoga community, we talk about the physical asanas (postures) as a way to get unstuck, both in body and mind, but this sense of unstuck-ness, or freedom comes with any form of exercises or physical activity. We get a runner’s high, or a yoga glow, or simply the sense of having accomplished some project. Every movement is an expression of our unique selves. Explore how you move best, honor where your body is at, and like my dad says, just do something.