I suck at yoga but that hasn’t stopped me from trying to get better each day over the last couple of months. Today, while trying to follow Gillian Clark during Pure & Simple Yoga I was again reminded of how bad I am at it. The upside is that in yoga it just doesn’t matter one bit. Ego aside, yoga makes me feel good and that’s all that matters.
While I’m bad at it, I’m definitely progressing. I’ve been asked to list just what I’ve been doing, so here you go. I should qualify this with the back story. I have a ruptured L5S1 disc, which caused sciatic nerve damage. From Jan-June, I could do very little stretching and no forward bending. When I began doing yoga in July, it had to start slow and easy.
I began with Rodney Yee’s Back Care Yoga. This is a one hour session that is broken down into three sections: flexibility, strengthening, and restorative poses. Restorative poses, essentially, use gravity to slowly stretch muscles. These are EASY. So I began using this 20 minute segment as my default practice, while pushing a little harder on days I felt good.
Once I assessed that I could do this without damaging my back, I began starting each day with one of Rodney Yee’s 20 minute sessions from AM Yoga. Yee is one of the old guard of the video yoga movement. He’s an excellent teacher and these videos are perfect for anyone looking to begin with gentle yoga.
Next, Romney bought me (well, us) the Athlete’s Guide To Yoga. This is also a gentle practice that assumes most of your training is done elsewhere. Since most of mine is, it’s great. The instructor, Sage Roundtree, is a little Berkeley-esque for my tastes but she’s thorough and I’ve come to really like this video. The many short routines are programmable for a myriad of workout options.
A mixture of these three videos has been the cornerstone of my practice, which until recently had been entirely focused on rehabilitation.
The progress I’ve made has caused me to move yoga up on my workout priorities. Now I often replace other workouts, even riding or running, with yoga. I figure that I can get that fitness back quickly anyway, so I should focus on the thing that will increase my ability in those areas to improve beyond where they were when I get back to them. This has necessitated a need to increase the intensity of my yoga practice.
For more workout oriented yoga, I’ve been using Clark’s Pure & Simple Yoga (part of the Yoga Booty Ballet series), Chalene Johnson’s Dynamic Flow Yoga (part of the Chalene Extreme series), and Tony Horton’s One on One yogas and recovery workouts. None of these are 90X-ian in their severity but more balanced practices and much better suited to my days where there will almost always be another workout outside. I am about to start adding Yoga X into the schedule, even if just to gauge how I’ve improved, since for years that was the only yoga workout I did. For me, however, the strength aspects of yoga are not my goals. I’m much better at these anyway. My goals are range of motion increase, improved balance and body awareness.
Neither Chalene or Tony are yoga instructors. While this probably makes their style hard for traditional yoga-ites to stomach, it’s likely very appealing to many who are turned off by the historical mumbo-jumbo and just want a workout. They both have a comical style, which you can see here if this link is still working for “Patience Hummingbird.” Gillian’s approach is far more traditional. Her knowledge and passion for yoga is unbridled. She makes me want to get better at yoga.
So far, I think the adding daily yoga has been one of my better athletic decisions. It may not help my ability to suffer through the night on some endurance quest (though it may and certainly won’t hurt), but it’s definitely going to help me age with less pain, and it will help my climbing. As my friend Micah, an avid yoga practitioner, said, “for climbing, yoga is like cheating.”
pic: from sonnietrotter.com