» Ever notice how much better the brain functions when you're physically fit? How much more clearly the mind operates following a fabulous work-out? How much more lucid things seem when you're running barefoot on the beach?
Here in Southern California, as you might imagine, exercise is big thing. Specially as spring arrives.
You see them taking to the streets, wearing bright colors, pounding the pavement. Because off come the clothes at the beach come summer.
The idea of living in a place where the climate is conducive to a fitness-oriented lifestyle was one of the things that drew me here. (Scraping ice off your windshield at 6AM gets old fast.)
Most of my life I've run to stay fit. Running is easy on logistics. No club member$hip dues required. Simply lace up your Nike's and step out your front door. (There's a 5K here in Corona del Mar next weekend, on June 4th.)
» Yoga's Ancient Technology New for Me
Recently I've been 'practicing' yoga. It's very different from either running or weight-lifting. But anything that endures five thousand years deserves a closer look.
I asked this personal-trainer I know (from the coffee shop) if she could scribble down a series of poses.
"I got a better idea," she said. "I have this *great* DVD. I'll bring it next time I come. If you're not here, I'll leave it with somebody behind the counter. Keep it. It's yours."
Very good DVD, yes. I could see why she was excited. It just covers the basics, but that's all I wanted. (All I could handle.)
» -- Balance --
The biggest difference, I've found, between yoga and say, weight-lifting .. is that, with yoga, YOU provide the balance.
In weight-lifting, you're simply on one side, and the weight (gravity) is pushing against you.
Your focus is on ONE direction, and one direction only .. that being, whatever direction is opposite the weight.
In yoga, poses are designed such that you focus on two (or more) different directions simultaneously. The word balance comes to mind. Seems like a minor point, but in practice it's major .. from a mental perspective, I mean. Which is why I find yoga more difficult.
I can go for a run, or throw iron at the gym and not really think about it. My mind is usually a million miles away .. and that's why I like it.
» Mental Focus & Awareness
But yoga keeps your attention focused on your body and your breath. I'm sure I will get used to it, and I like the effect it has (.. more about this later) .. but yes, I find it considerably more difficult.
I mean, the DVD has instructions like "breathe awareness into your sacrum," and » "breathe awareness up your spine, energetically lifting each vertebra".
Another thing is that I never sweat doing yoga. And I feel sweating (detox) is important.
Update - A few of you wrote to mention Bikram, which is like doing yoga in a sauna:
Remember the climate where yoga originated isn't like yours or mine. Hence, why some forms of yoga specifically aim at using heated environments, the most widely known being Bikram Yoga, which of late has been marketed worldwide (since Bikram copyrighted his particular techniques). Both "Bikram" and generic "hot yoga" studios are everywhere here now.
The best thing I like about running (especially on the beach, at sunset) .. is how I dont have to think. My mind can free-wheel. Visit Nirvana. Spend time there. Weights require a little more, but it doesnt take much concentration to pump out a set of reps on the bench-press.