Posted on May 27, 2015
Being an endurance athlete all of my life, I have never been good at “stopping to smell the roses.” I have struggled with disordered eating, perfectionist attitudes towards work and personal life, and obsessive compulsive anxiety for as long as I have been competitively running, swimming, and training. All of these things compile together and feed off of each other. After my last running race on May 2nd, I decided to take a break from anything organized and recalculate my goals and my mindset.
It was interesting to say the least. For the first time ever, I stopped to ask myself what I wanted to eat, what I wanted to do for exercise, and what did my body need to feel good? I was no longer restricted to eating certain foods or calories around my morning runs or attending so many days at the gym to meet my cross-training quota. The freedom of choice and opening up my mind to listening to my body, was truly enlightening.
The results of the last three weeks have been phenomenal:
1) I have not run once- for anyone that knows me THIS IS HUGE!
2) I’ve enjoyed long walks, long swims, pilates, and yoga/meditation
3) I’ve lost four pounds and feel healthier and more energetic than I’ve felt in years.
4) My cravings for “forbidden foods” have disappeared, because nothing is forbidden. If I want vegetables, I eat them, If I want cake, I eat it
5) My ability to calm myself with breathing and meditation, rather immediately respond to something with anxiety and stress is growing.
6) I’m learning to trust myself and my body to tell me what’s right.
So, Why yoga? Why the title of this post? I have found that even ten minutes of yoga a day has significantly impacted my mindfulness. I want to slow down and enjoy my food when I eat -appreciate the nourishment it’s giving my body. I want to enjoy my 60 minute walk, with the birds, the ocean, and the breeze; rather than pound my way through a high intensity run. I want to appreciate the rhythm to my breathing while swimming laps rather than forcing myself through the laps to hit a certain “mileage” goal. All of these things have been byproducts of my yoga journey.
I’ve also noticed that the yoga helps me from head to toe:
1) Helps align the bones and joints in my body
2) Help improve balance, coordination, and focus
3) Improved performance in Surfing and athletics through better rotation
4) Detoxification through increased twisting of organs and muscles to release free radicals and toxins stored in the body
5) Detoxification through deep breathing- higher oxygen levels abolish free radicals in the blood and body systems
6) Stress control- deep breath on reaction, rather than negative impulses. Deeper breathing decreases stress and cortisol levels
7) Time for spiritual meditation- learning to appreciate the time in the day, rather than constantly feeling like there is not enough of it.
8) Mindful- Becoming a better dieter through better eating habits, with more controlled decisions based on what my body wants and needs.
9) Muscle toning- Strengthening and Lengthening Galore
10) Increases bone density- Yoga is weight bearing and gravity resistant, both things proven to help slow down the aging of your bones.
11) Prevents lower back pain and injuries- Your muscles stay supple from the increased oxygen and blood flow
12) Happy Hormones- Yoga releases serotonin and destroys cortisol, a good balance for a consistent happy, healthy life!
I challenge each of you to take ten minutes today to sit still and ask your body what it needs. Do you need to stretch? Do you need to say some positive affirmations?
Now tell me, what are some of your favorite exercises? Why do you love them?