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I love and hate yoga.  It’s certainly good for you, it makes you long and lean while increasing flexibility and foundational strength and blah, blah, freakin’ blah.  I never regret doing a yoga class, but getting me there is pretty tough.  Maybe it’s the fear of all the chanting and hippie teachers that usually are not from India.  But is yoga effective as a true workout? _MG_2400
If I’m not dripping in sweat and hobbling out of the gym then I’m not working hard enough right?  Wrong. It’s hard for me to  admit that, but it’s true. You don’t need to be pushing yourself to the limit with every workout.  Over the last two weeks I’ve had massive pain in my lower leg and my hip.  I chose to ignore this pain for the fear of “no gain” and continued on with all the thumping and thudding high impact exercises which of course just made the pain get worse.  After speaking to friends who are also fitness professionals, I realized that we all suffer from the same ailments.  We love working out so much that we often work through pain until we get injured and are out for weeks or more.  I finally reached that point when sitting down at a desk was hurting my hip.  This meant it was time for some active recovery and rest.  Enter, yoga class.

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As I waited outside the group fitness studio at my gym for the tree hugging yoga instructor to arrive, I longed to be at the boxing class with my friends. As my buddies left the boxing class they couldn’t resist giving me shit about why I was doing yoga.  I rolled my eyes and begrudgingly grabbed a mat.  Once class started and I eased into my breathing and I immediately felt weeks of stress leaving my body.  I’ve gone a million miles a minute for so long and suddenly all the anxiety and endless to-do lists seemed to float far, far away from me.  Now, I never regret taking a yoga class, if just for relieving some stress or plaguing injuries. _MG_2380
Many people have asked me if yoga is indeed a “good” workout.  Now that I think about this, I’m not sure what that really means.  In my opinion, any movement is better than none, so yes, yoga is a workout.  Is it going to burn insane amounts of calories like a cross-fit workout or a bootcamp?  Probably not, unless you are doing Bikram or another type of hot yoga.  Is it going to burn fat, exhaust you and make you sore?  Probably not, but it will invigorate you, wake you up and give you tons of energy!  Yoga in advanced stages, however, can be incredibly difficult and leave you sore for days. Yoga is critical and important for improving strength, balance, flexibility and energy levels.  Most of us are leading very hectic lives and constantly wishing for more hours in the day.  I can’t think of a better way to balance your body and mind than to do yoga.  You have a chance to quiet your mind, focus on your breathing, listen to your body and understand its movement.  Finally, yoga provides an excellent foundation for balance and body-weight strength which in my opinion are extremely important for advancing in any type of fitness routine.  Being a personal trainer and group fitness instructor, I fully understand the importance of having structural balance.  For example, can you lift your right leg higher than your left leg?  If yes, then maybe the muscles in your left leg are tight or weak.  Before you start doing squats, dead lifts and other compound movements, it’s critical to create balance in your body, or you are just compounding your structural issues.  Yoga can give you this balance by stretching, lengthening and strengthening your muscles. One of my absolute favorite fitness gurus and bloggers, Neghar Fonooni, wrote a post about why yoga is great for gym junkies.  Check it out.  She hits the nail on the head and if you’re anything like me, you need to work yoga into your regular routine immediately!

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Get your Yoga on!

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