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How lowering my yoga expectations is bringing me to higher consciousness (and better flexibility!).
By Lisa Delaney | Posted March 21, 2013
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When I first heard the term “fitness snacking,” I admit rolling my eyes just a teensy bit. Another attempt, I thought, to make a somewhat boring and, to some, distasteful concept more palatable by giving it a cutesy name. Used to describe taking short bursts of activity throughout the day, “fitness snacking” was proclaimed by some to be one of the top trends in the health world in 2012.

Now, I’ve always been a believer in being as active as you can whenever you can–climbing the stairs at work instead of the elevator, walking instead of riding, standing instead of sitting, doing your own lawn instead of hiring a service, etc. And I’m also big on the idea that SOME activity is better than NO activity–too many people skip their workouts completely if they can’t, say, get their full 3 mile run in or make their Zumba class, when even a brisk 10-minute walk would clear their minds, burn some calories and get their hearts pumping.

So I didn’t really think I needed a little turn of phrase to get me to embrace the concept. Until, that is, I thought about my stop-start-stop-stop relationship with yoga. You see, I NEED yoga. I know I need yoga. I need the gentle, contemplative movement; I need the flexibility, the opening (BOY, do I need that!), I need the amazing time-out-tune-in it offers. I have even, after much searching, found a class that I love at a time when I could actually get there …

But life and other commitments and priorities have gotten in the way. As a rower, I’m preparing for racing season right now, and so I’m spending lots of time training on the rowing machine and on the water, as well as doing strength workouts. (Oh yeah, and working, and being a parent and a wife and a person who has laundry to do and meals to cook and all that.) With all that’s going on, I haven’t made it to yoga since before the first of the year! I’d almost written off yoga as one of those “someday” activities I’ll get to when I have more time and fewer responsibilities.

But last week, as I was staring at the pile of workout DVDs towering on my desk, waiting to be reviewed or to spark a story idea, I realized something: I needed to apply the “something is better than nothing” concept to yoga. In my stack, I have COUNTLESS yoga DVDs, and I’m adding to them almost daily. Why not use them to incorporate a little “yoga snack” after work, even if it’s only 10 minutes? Surely I can find 10 minutes in my day to do a few downward dogs and planks!

And so I’ve been, pretty consistently, “yoga snacking” over the past week or so. I can’t say that I’m perfecting my Pigeon Pose or catching any air in Frog Pose, but … any yoga is better than no yoga. Maybe this whole fitness snacking thing isn’t so silly after all.

By the way, here’s my take on some of the new DVDs I’ve been noshing on lately:

 Core Power Yoga: Calorie Blast Yoga DVD
This new effort from Gaiam consists of three 20-minute workouts (perfect for snacking!) based on Core Power Yoga studio classes available nationwide. I have to say, I loved the “Strong Body Strong Mind” sequence, which was a pretty traditional, challenging flow. The Strength Practice sequence, though, is a somewhat strange mashup of strength work and yoga (think hammer curls with hand weights while in Warrior 2). Cues were easy to follow, and the optional “Perfect Pose” tutorial ensures that you’ll get the positions right.

Canyon Ranch: Yoga for Strength and Energy
I’ve always wanted to go to Canyon Ranch, but for now I’ll have to settle for doing yoga with their instructors on this DVD. And that’s not such a bad thing: I loved the desert setting for the video, which features two distinct sequences and a “bonus stretch,” as well as short segments on healthy cooking and better sleep. I particularly liked the Energy Stretch sequence, which runs a little over 20 minutes. Stretching, more than strength and core work, is what I really need from yoga, and this helped work my range of motion and open tight shoulders and upper back.

Rodney Yee Power Up Yoga
I found this DVD from popular yoga guru Rodney Yee pretty challenging. I liked the flow and combination of poses, but I found his transitions pretty quick (sometimes too quick). The DVD is broken up into three 20-minute sessions—Connect (basically strength work for your lower body), Energize (cardio and flexibility) and Breathe (relaxation and focus on the breath). Beginners (and those of us who have been away from yoga for a while) might find the brief explanations of poses and quick transitions challenging. But I’m determined to include this in my yoga snacking menu regularly.

Yoga to the Rescue for Neck and Shoulders
My neck and shoulders are notoriously tight, so I had high hopes for Desiree Rumbaugh’s Yoga to the Rescue DVD. As usual, I skipped the tutorial and jumped right into a sequence, which was not a good idea this time. I found myself confused by some of the terms used in the cues, like “make your inner body bright,” “bring your shoulders on your back,” and “keep the heads of your arm bones back.” I did, though, appreciate that there was a second person in the DVD demonstrating modifications at all times, which made the poses easier to follow. No, the tension in my neck and shoulders wasn’t instantly erased, but this one, too, will probably make for a good snack now and then.

I’ll weigh in on more yoga “snacks” soon!

 

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