Years ago when my body dysmorphia was at it’s worst, exercise to me was merely a way to burn calories and lose weight. I hated every minute of it but I forced my butt on the elliptical machine every day until the “calories burned” on the display met a number to my liking. Since the only benefit was weight loss, I looked at a seemingly low-intensity workout such as yoga as a waste of time. “Look at those idiots!” I’d say to myself passing the gym’s yoga class, after spending 75 mind-numbing minutes on a hamster wheel.
It wasn’t until I hopped off the elliptical to start running that I realized exercise offered more positive benefits: stress relief, a feeling of accomplishment, that famous “runner’s high” that I always figured was a myth. Still, even with this new found respect for my body and it’s abilities, I wrote off yoga as being for lazy people who were afraid to sweat. Sitting around a dark room with mats and soft music? Sounds like nap time in preschool! Little did I know…
After reading numerous posts from DailyMile friends touting how beneficial yoga was to runners, I bought a Groupon for a local studio. Walking into my first class, I was at first intimidated by the experienced yogis stretching and contorting. The studio had an eco-friendly bamboo floor, the lights were dim, and the music soothing. I felt calm. As I worked my way through my first class I experienced a flood of happy endorphins (the hot teacher who was generous in correcting poses helped I’m sure). I don’t know if it’s the breathing or the poses, but yoga definitely produces a special high. I’m sure the ancient practitioners of yoga invented it for that reason alone. Ask any kid who spins around and around until they fall from dizziness, natural highs are the most satisfying.
That’s not to say I spent the whole class laying around with a buzz. The movements were definitely challenging. As with running, I was proud of the things I could do with my body in yoga. At the end of the class the instuctor left us with these words, “Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu”. Translation: May all beings everywhere be happy and free. Well if that didn’t make my little animal loving, vegetarian heart swell.
I can gladly admit I’m hooked on yoga . I’ve set new goals for myself in the coming months: run at least 25 miles a week, strength training at least twice a week, and make time for yoga at least twice a week as well.
Let me know readers! What is your favorite source of a natural high? Am I bad for doing downward facing dog incorrectly just so the hot instructor will grab me? When did you make the mental switch from exercise being maintenance to a way of life?