So after some weeks of stepping off the pedal in a major way when it came to my exercise routine in the midst of lockdown… I found myself a few pounds heavier and feeling quite low in energy. In the first few weeks, I had been pretty good. Yoga sessions every few days and going for short runs, determined not to get lockdown chubby. Somewhere along the way, it fell down. I got into a negative spiral of getting up late, sitting in the garden sunbathing in this beautiful weather – and not getting regular exercise.
After deciding enough was enough (and getting an unfavourable result on the scales :|) I decided to set myself a challenge. I don’t know about you, but I find this the best way to get into or commit to something new – make it a personal challenge to achieve in the next week or month. I was also keen to see for myself what impact Yoga as a main source of exercise can deliver. I am already convinced that Yoga has amazing benefits for body and mind, but many people remain unconvinced whether it can work as a main source of exercise when trying to achieve a better looking body, muscle tone and weight loss.
In theory, it should. Yoga works all your muscles rather than just focussing on limited muscle groups as you do with typical gym workouts. People also make the mistake of thinking yoga is ‘easy’ or that you don’t burn calories or really work that hard. That isn’t the case at all. But it definitely helps to pick the right Yoga routines, teachers and some time to learn how to do Yoga properly. I admit it took me a while to understand what Yoga was all about and how to get the most out of your workout. But the answer is simple, practice.
So to test the theory of whether Yoga as a core exercise can deliver results, I set myself the target to do Yoga everyday for 30 days and make a record of how my body changes and how I feel. At the same time, I will try out a variety of different Yoga videos from the most popular Youtubers to let you know which ones I recommend and what to expect. By the end of it, I will be able to provide you with my recommended 30 day Yoga workout Video set that you can try out for yourself – saving you the trouble of hours of trial and error and wasting your time on the not-so-good videos that could put you off practicing. So you can wait for that one and save yourself the reading – or follow my journey as it goes.
I made my list by reviewing other blogs and recommendations of the best Youtube channels for Yoga, then making a list that covered a variety of different Yoga styles/ workouts. I will complete a mix of Vinyasa flow, Ashtanga, Power Yoga, Yoga specific for working certain body parts, and for different goals e.g for weight loss and stress relief. This way I can give you a good overview of how each of these felt during and after practice to help you decide which might be best for you. So let’s get started.
Day 1 : Yoga with Adriene – Full Body Flow (20 minutes)
So I picked this as my first Yoga class as it is my go-to for a short but effective Yoga workout. It is suitable for all levels, but as with any Yoga class you have to listen to your body and only push as far as feels comfortable – if you are in pain you are not doing Yoga right!
Why I like this class is that I feel it awakens the body giving you energy and works all the muscles. I definitely notice the loosening of my lower back which can get stiff after hours at a desk or on the sofa. When I practice regularly, this class feels pretty easy and I find myself wanting a bit more challenge. But I realised after having some time off Yoga (and fitness in general!) then coming back to this class – how much it actually works you. After 5 minutes I could notice my heart beating and feel warmth throughout my body. If you don’t feel that with your first workout make sure you focus on your body mind connection. It is critical that you think about the muscles you are working and try to attain strong stable poses to engage your muscles.
This is a great workout for testing and building your balance which is key to Yoga practice and helps to get equilibrium throughout your body.
You will see a few Yoga with Adriene Videos on the list as she is probably the most popular on the internet. As well as being someone easy to listen to and watch, she explains the poses well so that you don’t have to look at the screen too much to make sure you are doing the right thing! (at least after 1 or 2 times doing this practice if you are a complete beginner).
So overall, this is a great starter workout that can be repeated whenever you want a short but effective routine to awaken your body and help build core strength and balance.
Running and Yoga
As well as Yoga I am trying to incorporate some other forms of exercise into my routine a few days a week. So today I decided to go for my first run in weeks and attempt 5k (keep in mind, I have only ever ran 5k once before in my life so am my no means an expert runner!). I somehow managed it as a very slow pace but was glad to have kickstarted my commitment to fitness by getting a run in.
Yoga and running go very well together as Yoga is a great way to stretch muscles and aid recovery. With the 30 day challenge in mind, I decided now would be a good time to try out a ‘Restorative Yoga’ video – which are generally slower paced and focussed on stretching.
I hadn’t planned for this as part of my list, so I just searched restoriative yoga on Youtube and picked the first short one I found – which was called 15 minute chill out Restorative Yoga by Yoga by Candace. It was OK. I didn’t feel it really gave me the full stretch I was looking for, especially in the legs – and it spent too long holding one pose lying on the floor so I found myself doing a few extra poses I felt my body needed to help recover from the run instead. So not going to be adding this one to the list, but definetely made me want to do some research into restorative yoga classes to try another day to be able to give you a solid recommendation for a good Yoga class after a run.
I have always incorporated Yoga into the end of my workouts at the Gym even if its just for 5 minutes. People often forget to stretch after workouts and it is so important for recovery and keeping your joints and muscles in good order. Testing out Yoga with running with be a good learning process to assess how best to combine the two.
Does Yoga help you to run?
One thing I did question whilst on my run, was whether doing the Yoga session in the morning was helping my ability to run. What I can definetely say, is that considering I had not gone for a run in weeks and was challenging myself to 5k which killed me at the best of times – I did feel much better than usual. Personally, the hardest part of running outside for me is the pressure on my lungs and keeping my breathing under control – rather than the physical exertion on my legs and body. Spending 20 minutes really focussing on breathing prior to a run – as well as stretching out the body and getting energy running through it – probably did help. Let’s see how the two go hand in hand as the weeks go by.