Week 2 is upon us! I do not expect any huge gains in weight at all for a while. I have been eating horribly, but working on making better decisions. I did pizza and wings one night. I am sure that was at least 750 calories for one meal. UGH.
I did manage to squeeze in a bicycle ride. 22-miles on my mountain bike. Those huge, knobby, 29-er wheels sure take some power to keep the speed above 16-mph. Considering that my last long training ride was in October, and I only squeezed out one ride since (that was 20-miles), this is an excellent start. I burned over 1,000 calories in that workout. I also am working at eating better too. I have not had any pizza at all since that meal I spoke of above. I like making better decisions!
When you work out, especially focusing inward like with yoga, your eyes open up to new things. You start to focus on your breath. You also notice those nagging points of tension in your body. What you were oblivious to all of a sudden smacks you right in your face. Just after this short time working out, I am already feeling a bit better. I noticed I was much more relaxed on the drive to work. I also noticed that I sensed my tension quite easily compared to 2-weeks ago. Usually shallow breathing brings on tension. I detected that shallow/short breathing pattern quite easily. Once I was aware of it, I took several slow and deep breaths to relax me some more. Normally I am annoyed when a train comes and messes up the lights on my way to work. This time, I was not annoyed in the least. I am not sure why, maybe it has something to do with a chemical balance inside the body. I do recall reading part of a book by Tara Stiles; she quoted a study that said something like people who took part in a 6-week yoga session at work reported an easier time dealing with stress and improved sleeping. It is believed that the deep breathing, the focus of the breath, is what aids in this.
I went into this just simply to improve my strength in my core and my back. All of this OTHER improvement I feel is a wonderful side effect. Yoga is great for strength since it uses body weight to build muscle. It is great for flexibility because it puts you in positions that require it. However, one cannot overlook the psychological effects related to the practice. It makes you aware of the small things that normally go overlooked in your life. Your breath, that nagging pain in your back or shoulders, tension, lack of flexibility, all of that starts to move to the front of your mind and make itself noticed. For instance, my legs have been known to go nuts sometimes (RLS). They do not like it when they are not worked out. However, after some yoga sessions, I now feel the need to stretch out my legs. It is like they are craving something they have not received in ages. My hip flexors are what I notice the most. I wake up, and they want to be stretched so badly. Of course, I stretch them. Then the rest of my body desires to be stretched. So I do that. Honestly, that is an insanely great way to wake up. The alarm goes off, lay there for a bit, and then stretch. By stretching, you also get your blood pressure up to normal levels in an easy and low impact manner. It also helps to just get the blood flowing, waking you up in a good way.
Even the twists feel great. Okay, I will be honest. They do not feel all that great while you are doing them. You are struggling to twist as much as you can, yet maintain the ability to take in deep breaths. However, the twists are supposed to aid in digestion and improve blood flow to the internal organs. Still, it really feels great after you do them. That aids your mood as well. Controlling the breath, stretching, exercising, and focusing on things that are not stressful (like your breath, your pose, staying relaxed while in a challenging pose, etc), help take your mind off those nagging negative thoughts. This helps you relax.
Even before bed, a simple 5-minute meditation helps. By simply focusing on your breath, it works wonders. Every time you mind start to run off on a thought, the second you become aware of it, go back to the breath. It helps clear your mind. It puts your mind at ease. My nights of insomnia are caused by my mind not shutting down. It has got worse in the past year or two. I have finally figured it out. It is nothing more than my inability to wind down. Breathing techniques can help slow the body. By focusing on one thing, whether an object, sound, the breath, or the heartbeat, it helps calm the mind. This is not some religious thing; it is simply a proven way to calm a racing mind. You have to be active in it. The breathing alone will not slow your mind. The attention moved towards the breath, chant, or whatever, that is what helps.
Some poses are challenging, even for me. Most of my strength is in my legs. So when I do some poses that require more arm strength, I get shaky really quickly. Even with my back and abs, same thing. I used to be able to rattle off 100 crunches with no problems. Now, ummm, well, not so much. I do a few and I am burnt out.
Work on those weak parts of your body to stay balanced. If your chest is stronger than your back, you will develop shoulder problems. Your shoulders will roll forward, putting pressure on the front end of the ball joint, resulting in shoulder problems if it goes unnoticed for an extended period of time. Balance is the word of the year for me.
Ride on my friends!