Stretching, Yoga, & Balance

Just as the title suggests, we all need to find balance in our life. This mantra is not only meant for your fitness routine, but for your daily routine in life. I know some of you will be disappointed that there is no crazy workout routine on the blog today, but I implore you to continue reading with an open mind.

When I was younger I could have, and I did, work out everyday and devote a few minutes at the end of my workout for stretching. As we age, those stressed muscles remain in a state of tension. That is why we pull hamstrings and injure our backs. We sit in our cars for hours driving to and from work, shuttling the kids to activities and some of us also sit at a desk all day working. Do you ever stand up and stretch? No, if you have a break, you are checking your email, Facebook or texting someone. And how are you doing those activities? In a seated position! Over time those hamstrings remain in that tight contraction and that is why our backs hurt and our stomachs protrude. People who stand all day for their job are not exempt. Their posture can be just as bad. Their shoulders round forward, their backs round and their stomachs jut out. Think back to those times when you were sitting or standing. Are you holding your stomach in tight and pulling your shoulders back? No! Are you slumped over exhausted from all the obligations heaped on you in a single day? Yes! It is time to spend a little time on your body. I know, it sounds like an advertisement and you’re waiting for me to say, “For three easy payments of ($ fill in the amount you would pay) you can have it.” It’s not that simple. It has to be a part of your day. Just like your habit of getting up in the morning to check email, or your Facebook page, you must commit to a time that you can take for yourself and do something. The world won’t explode, everything that needs your attention will be there waiting for you when you are done. The difference will be your attitude towards all that stuff. You will tackle those everyday tasks with a more positive attitude. Things that use to seem impossible, will become mere road bumps.

Be warned, it doesn’t happen overnight and if you attempt to do too much you will give up. As a society, we have the “all or nothing” attitude. I am not sure how it developed, but you must change that way of thinking. You have to make easy changes. You may only want to devote fifteen minutes at first. When that becomes too easy, you may move up to thirty minutes. But you must start with something that is manageable, or you will quit. We would never give a child a difficult task that we know they can’t complete. We would be setting them up to fail! So, why do we do it to ourselves?

I know you think it is easy for me to say all of this, but I just had a change of heart at the beginning of the year. I was tired of paying for 90-minute massages every month that made me feel good for about two days. Then, after a couple of crazy workouts I was tight and stiff all over again. So my New Year’s Resolution was to incorporate at least one day of yoga into my workout schedule. Six months later and I have been doing two days of yoga and one day of Pilates. I did not jump right into a class at the gym. I got a yoga video so that I could learn the moves and the lingo and did it at home before building up the courage to join the people in class. I must say I look forward to my yoga time. There is a whole other side of me that I never knew was there because I never slowed down long enough to see it. Don’t wait for an injury to sideline you, and force you into doing something. You will always do it begrudgingly. Be proactive and do it because you enjoy it.