a traveling Wife: What Does Yoga Do For You?

What Does Yoga Do For You?

Friday, October 2, 2015

Today I have a very special post from my friend, Ashley. She's sharing a fun topic that I am trying really hard to incorporate more of during the month of October. Enjoy!

Hi everyone! Big thanks to Jenn for inviting me to be a guest on her blog! I usually blog over at happyhealthyash.com, mostly about the workouts I’m doing, the yummy recipes I’m eating, and how much I’m hustling at my fitness business.
As someone who makes a living from fitness, I’ve had the opportunity to try so many different workout programs. I’ve tried everything from dance-based cardio (TurboFire and Cize), to heavy lifting (Body Beast and p90x). But one thing that’s been a constant in my life for the past several years is YOGA.

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A lot of people have strong opinions one way or the other about yoga. I’ve heard everything from, “It’s amazing, it changed my life, I can’t live without it!” to “It’s boring, I don’t get a good workout doing it.” I get it. Before I started seriously practicing yoga I had all kinds of misconceptions about it. Everyone has to make their own judgment, but I have to share what yoga has done for me:
1) It’s helped me stay injury-free, despite doing strenuous exercise most days of the week.
Yoga is so important in injury prevention. Obviously, it has a lot to do with flexibility – if your muscles are more flexible, you’ll be less likely to tear something. But it also has so much to do with balance. For example, if you’ve ever done a tree pose, you know that your standing leg and ankle aren’t still. They are constantly moving in tiny ways, adjusting your balance.
Those tiny muscles in your lower leg and ankle don’t really get used when you have both feet on the floor. The more you practice balance postures, the stronger those muscles get. And guess what? Next time you lose your balance when doing a weighted lunge, that ankle will be way less likely to roll.
2) I’ve become both stronger and more flexible through yoga practice.

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I challenge anyone who says that they don’t get a good workout doing yoga to come to a class with me! I am usually sweating and shaking by the end! There are all different types and levels of yoga. If you’re not feeling challenged, you’re either in a class that’s too easy, or you’re not focused (more on that in a minute).
My legs, back, arms, and core never feel better than when I practice yoga regularly.
Yoga is such a great compliment to my heavy-lifting workouts. When you work a muscle, the fibers contract and get shorter – that’s why they look bigger! Which is fine, except if you’re not doing anything to lengthen those muscle fibers, you could end up walking around with T-Rex arms (j/k, but you get the picture…).
Yoga lengthens and strengthens muscles at the same time. Think about downward dog – your arms are fully extended, but they are working! Contracting your muscles while they’re in that extended state leads to long, lean arms (no T-Rex’s)!
3) I’ve become a more attentive person.

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I struggle with focus sometimes. Working for myself, I often have 5 messages on my phone, e mails popping up every few minutes, and social media notifications pinging at the same time. It’s easy to get distracted.
Yoga has helped me to stop getting distracted by every little thing and focus on the task at hand.
How? Well, yoga class starts and ends with a meditation: when the instructor tells you to start becoming aware of your breathing, that’s you meditating! When you’re resting in shavasana at the end of class, it’s meditation again. Actually, all of yoga class is kind of an active meditation.
I know you might think chanting and incense, but it’s as simple as this: Meditation is directing your attention to your experience in the present moment. If you can do that in yoga class, you can start to apply it to other areas of your life. So, when I’m writing an e mail and I hear a ding that tells me I got a Facebook message, I notice the urge to check it, but I don’t have to act on that urge. I briefly pay attention to what’s happening for me (feeling anxious, wondering what it’s about) and then I refocus on what I’m typing.
It’s not easy – but with consistent yoga practice, it starts to become second nature.
Well, I hope I’ve convinced you to at least give yoga a chance! The benefits, both mental and physical, have been amazing for me. If you have questions, or you’d like some help with incorporating exercise into your daily life, send me an e mail, fitcoachashley@gmail.com.
Thanks everyone, and thanks again to Jenn for inviting me to be a guest on a traveling Wife!

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Do you practice yoga?
What is one of your favorite fitness programs you have tried?

Ashley is a fitness entrepreneur, yoga teacher, and wife in the Richmond, VA area. She loves traveling, eating delicious things, and trying new workouts. Her life's work is about helping people reach their health and fitness goals.

Connect with Ashley via Blog, Facebook.