Yoga has been around for thousands of years. The first documented records of the existence of yoga date back to around 3000 BC in the Indus Valley Civilization. Since then, multiple new styles and variations have emerged. Yoga is still relatively new to the United States; it made its debut here in Chicago around 1893.
For most of my life, I never really considered yoga as an appealing activity. To me, it was something that my mom and a lot of my female friends dabbled in. I don't think I would've labeled it as feminine, necessarily, but going out to exercise with my mom didn't seem very enticing.
I go to school at the University of Colorado at Boulder, so as you can imagine, yoga and other meditative practices are extremely popular. I successfully made it through my first three years here without making it to a single yoga class. Throughout this period of time, I met girls who never made it to the gym but still managed to stay in excellent shape. What was their secret? Yoga.
I'd always had this idea in my mind that yoga mostly consisted of lying around in various uncomfortable positions. Not much of a workout though. My flexibility could be improved, but I've never really cared too much about that. I did a little research into yoga and it turns out that many professional athletes participate to improve their balance, flexibility, strength and even cardio. Athletes like LeBron James utilize this exercise rather frequently. Although I'm not James' biggest fan, I have great respect for his athletic ability. If yoga can help him and other elite athletes, then I'd be crazy to not give it a shot.
I had been in this mindset for some time. I wanted to try yoga but didn't know where to start. I was also worried that I'd end up as the only guy in some super advanced class where I would come off as a total idiot. One day, my buddy asked me if I wanted to go over to Yoga Sculpt at Corepower Yoga with him. What was Yoga Sculpt? I didn't get that far before telling him that I was down for it.
I met him at the studio and quickly realized that I was vastly unprepared. He had a large towel, yoga mat and water bottle. I had my wallet and my keys. Luckily, Corepower rented me out a mat and towel for the night. I would've rented some water too, but I had to buy that. The instructor told me to go into the studio and grab two sets of weights and a block. Was I in the right place or at some P90X class? I probably should have done a little more research on Yoga sSulpt.
I got inside the studio and immediately realized how hot and humid it was. The other most immediate insight was that my friend and I were the only guys in a class of about 30. This could either be a very good or very bad statistic.
Finally, the instructor came in and turned on some electronic music playlist with a steady rhythm. Still convinced I was in the wrong class, I turned to my friend and asked what was going on. He laughed.
Our instructor started us off with crunches, stretches and other core exercises. Nothing all that difficult. Then we started doing a bunch of different poses and movements that were completely foreign to me. What the hell is a Chaturanga? Everyone just looked like they were doing push-up transitions into some seal-like pose. Weird, but I followed along.
Then the instructor asked us to pick up our weights. When I chose my weights, I had gotten a little cocky. I took sets of 10's and 15's. That was a mistake.
We lifted these weights a seemingly endless amount of times in more variations than I've ever seen. We did three different types of curls, then pulsed at 90 degrees. It seemed like it would never end. It's safe to say that I put my 15 pound weights down for the remainder of the class.
Yoga Sculpt’s combination of core, weights and cardio was an exercise regimen unlike anything I've ever encountered. Before I took this class, I thought that I'd figured out how I would stay in shape for the rest of my life. Running, biking, basketball, soccer, weights and other more generic activities were on my list. Yoga Sculpt provided me with a new type of burn. Although the class hurt a lot, I felt so amazing afterwards, lying in pools of my own sweat. I would be back.
Since then, I have signed up for my first month of yoga at Corepower. I've tried different classes as well, although in my opinion, Sculpt is the most specific to my exercise needs.
I also tried Hot Power Fusion yoga and it was a unique blend of slightly more advanced yoga positions for long periods of time with 100+ degree temps. These classes are rooted in vinyasa which involves connecting different poses to your breath. I enjoyed the class a lot. It was meditative in many ways, but the extreme heat seemed a bit unnecessary. I sweat enough while excercising at room temperature. I'm content with the amount I sweat. I don't need any extra sweat.
The last class that I've tried during my first month is CoreRestore. This class was vastly different than Sculpt or Hot Power. As the name suggests, CoreRestore is all about recovery and mostly consists of holding (relatively relaxing) postures for extended periods of time. It targets the connective tissues in your body to help promote recovery. There is also a lot of emphasis put on reflection and meditation. Our instructor referred to it as sleep yoga and I could see why. My friend actually fell asleep for a couple moments while in one position. I shook him awake when it was time to change poses. I slept very soundly that night.
Yoga has proved to be a real breakthrough in my quest for overall wellbeing. I would imagine that I've attended around 12 Sculpt classes by now. I've really noticed a difference in my cardio and endurance. The class is a lot easier now than it was on my first day, but it still challenges me in a new way every time I make it out. CoreRestore is perfect to recover from Sculpt, biking or lifting weights at the gym. It also helps me sleep. I utilize many of the tactics and positions learned in CoreRestore to help me pass out when my mind is still wide awake at night.
I now believe that yoga is something that everyone should at least try. If you go to a class and it's not for you, then don't come back. Sometimes to become a better version of yourself, it's necessary to try things that make you uncomfortable or even scare you a little. My mind and body have both improved since I started yoga. I'm glad that I said yes when my friend presented me with the opportunity to finally give it a shot. So whether it be yoga or skydiving, go out and do something that scares you.
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