Cross-training French Style

Cross-training French Style

Bonjour everyone! Hope you started your day with a great breakfast. I sure did – just look:

Melon Yogurt Parfait - a yummy breakfast treat!

Melon Yogurt Parfait - a yummy breakfast treat!

I served this up in a martini glass – gotta use those glasses for something!

I also started my day with something other than a morning run…..can you guess what it was?

Elliptical?

Did I try the elliptical this morning?

Did I try the elliptical this morning?

Nope. Spinning?

Or spinning?

Or spinning?

Guess again!

It was Yoga! Yes, that’s right, this diehard running snob has decided to throw in a little low-key cross-training to her fitness plan.

Now, I have to admit this was not my first yoga class. I took a yoga class a few years ago and did enjoy it quite a bit. I really only took it to learn the basics of yoga and then planned on doing yoga at home using DVD’s, etc. Yeah, like that ever happened!

Back then, I never seemed to make yoga, or any cross-training, a priority. It was always, run, run, run. But now, after reading more about the knee, joint, and back problems of long-time runners, I’ve decided that I need to make cross-training a priority again.

So, that is why today, I decided to go to a local studio yoga studio and join the beginner yoga class. But why did I choose yoga over the elliptical (it’s collecting dust in my humble abode) or cycling? 

I’ve been reading more and more about the health and wellness benefits of yoga, particularly for strength, balance, flexibility, and for stress reduction and relaxation. I’m sure this is not new news, but for some reason, it has just now arrived on my radar screen.

YOGA – FRENCH STYLE

I’ve also read that yoga is highly popular in France, especially Paris. Now, the French are definitely not known for being gym rats and they actually quite loathe breaking a sweat. For the most part, they do not see exercise as an activity where you actually need to change your clothes and go somewhere else to work out. But according to a recent article in Yoga Journal magazine, yoga class is one event where many Parisians flock to on a regular basis. Unlike Americans who typically take yoga to gain strength, lose weight, and get in shape, the French practice yoga for relaxation and to reduce stress. Ironically, one of the more popular yoga classes in Paris is Bikram  or Hot yoga, where the room is heated to 105°F with a humidity of 40% and people leave drenched in sweat.

THE RETURN OF OM GIRL

I planned ahead for this yoga class, buying a new pair of capri yoga pants, giving myself an Olive Oil Pedicure (because everyone knows that yoga requires pretty toes!), and clearing my schedule for the morning.

My new super yoga pants courtesy of the Gap!

My new super yoga pants courtesy of the Gap!

I walked into yoga class feeling confident about my choice of clothing but a little uncertain about my ability to bend. Although it was beginner yoga, I had to wonder whether or not I’d be any good at it. I was a little relieved and actually quite pleased with myself that I brought my own yoga mat, when many others in the class had to borrow from the center – novices, or so I thought. I was only one who raised my hand when asked who was “new” to the class. 

Early on in the 60-minute class, I became quite aware at just how many muscles are not used when running. Natural flexibility is quite a gift, and if you are blessed with it, you should be thankful! Flexibility is not really a necessity to be a good runner, but I would qualify myself as moderately flexible. However, I’m fairly confident that with the right amount of yoga I could easily become quite bendy. 

For a beginner class, this was somewhat of a difficult class for me, and from the looks of it, other people felt the same way. But it was not the poses or positions I had difficulty with, it was the pace of the instructor and my ignorance of yoga terminology. Monkey pose and happy baby were only vaguely familiar terms and I surely did not remember how to get into those positions. But, I yogaed on!

Although I had a hard time with many of the positions and the frequency of changing poses, I was happily surprised to find that some positions came very easily to me – like tree pose and warrior one. And, even at this beginner level, my muscles were stretched beyond belief and girl, did it feel GREAT! After 60 minutes of feeling like I had a full-body massage (with me as the masseuse) I seemed to reach a little farther, bend a little easier, and stand a lot taller.

With a busy Saturday afternoon ahead, I was not too sad to see the class end on time. And hey, there’s always next week!

At this point, I’m months away from achieving a perfect downward dog (without help from the instructor), but I made it to class at 8 AM on a Saturday and that’s a great start! So, will I become a true Om girl? I think it’s too soon to tell. But, for now, I am happy to have yoga back in my life. 

Namaste

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