Finding balance between gym and mat

Over the past seven days, taking advantage of vacation time from work, I’ve tried to balance my yoga practice with daily trips to the gym to get in aerobic exercise so that I can increase my stamina and to burn off some of the pounds gained over the Holidays. I’ve included 30 minutes of stationary bicycle and another 30 minutes of either jogging/walking or elliptical trainer. Hopefully, I’ll be able to continue this routine through the weekend. Next week, I am probably going to have to cut back the gym time to 30 minutes because I’ll be back at work and unable to spend so much time on conditioning. The other objective is to get back into jogging and running, which I dropped after my knee injury. Running really helped my hips.

I’ve also tried to combine vinyasa with hatha, yin and restorative yoga, trying to cultivate more relaxing undertows in yoga to counteract the muscle activation in the flow. I wanted to acquire awareness and suppleness as well as muscle strength. In the past I’ve tended to harden around a partial flexibility in certain poses so that I could not deepen the postures. I don’t know if I’ve succeeded. Last night, Susan Bowen led a hot vinyasa flow class at Thrive Yoga that really tested my physical edge. I had to stop repeatedly to catch my breath and my mat had puddles of sweat. I don’t think she aimed to have an exceptionally difficult session, but the sequencing hit me where I feel the most vulnerability now, in the hips where I seem to be accessing a different combination of muscles.

At my age, the drop off in conditioning is unexpectedly sharp. For most of the last quarter of 2009, I could only grab practice sessions a few times a week, with no routine, and I even lost entire weeks because of family matters or travel. I do not have a home practice that can maintain a kind of physical and flexible foundation. Now I am paying the price. It’s not something you can reverse in a week or two. I had been hoping to use my vacation time but weather and family matters kept me getting into a routine until this week. I also can’t discount that my conditioning may also be a result of the lack of physical exercise following my knee injury, convalescence and recovery two years ago. It’s only been a year since I really got back to yoga, and I’ve been treating myself gingerly over that time.

I have to find a way to create a full home practice, with active, yin and nidra yoga, as well as pranayama and meditation, while not being anal-obsessive about the whole routine. Understanding this need and taking action is probably what differentiates a beginner from an intermediate practitioner. It’s not being able to achieve a certain level of difficulty in postures; that can depend just on hereditary traits or athleticism.

One thought on “Finding balance between gym and mat

  1. Striking a balance between gym time, asana time, meditation time, pranayama time, and so on is a continual challenge for me. I've been doing yoga since 2000 and still haven't found the perfect balance. If I could just get rid of the 9 to 5 job, that would solve so much.

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