One of the biggest mistakes people make when seeking to use their yoga practice as more than a calming, centering technique is that they go polar.
If you also want to burn calories, build mean, lean muscle mass, and make your metabolism more effective, then you know that working out too little, and not pushing to transformation, ever, is not going to give you the results you seek. But the opposite is not the answer, either.
Let me tell you a secret that all effective fitness pros know: working out too hard, for too long is just about as good at shutting down your benefits as sitting on your behind all day and not working out.
It’s true: if you get aggressive with your body, and do not give it the proper time to recover and heal, it will try to conserve body fat, will actually dump more toxic waste into your system, and will not build the muscle you need to amp up your metabolic fire, 24-7.
Yoga is all about balance, in life and in exercise. Herein lies the key to your fitness success: find a yoga style that’s not going to be overwhelmingly hard for you, i.e. jumping into an Advanced Handstanding Master Class when you don’t even know how to do a Down Dog.
That’s a recipe for disaster, uber soreness, and, probably, you running screaming off the mat and right back to your old, more sedentary routine. Wherever you are on your yoga journey, try out different classes and instructors until you find one that is a little harder than what you’re used to, but not by too much.
You want a practice that offers you something to work towards, and a supportive environment that encourages you to rest or back off whenever you feel it’s right, and kind to yourself to do so. It’s an art and a science to find that middle path, not only in general, but each time you show up to the mat.
What is your body telling you? Have you worked too hard with your mind that day, and burned a ton of calories? Well, now you need to do knee-down lunges and more Child’s Pose during class.
Have you gone to Strong Yoga four times this week? Then you must do a Restorative, Yin, or Gentle Yoga class or two to allow your muscles to rebuild—or else you’ll be in a state of constant teardown and slow your results unnecessarily.
Harder is not better, when it comes to creating true fitness shifts—the kind that keep you as healthy on the inside as you are outside. If you dedicate yourself to a yoga practice, then it’s my opinion that you also commit yourself to the lifestyle of a yogi.
The responsibility is now yours to treat yourself as well as you would any child, lover, or friend, in each moment. It’s sometimes a heavy burden to bear, to walk the path, not just of workouts, but work-ins, and be that radically compassionate, fierce, and well-boundaried advocate of your own evolution.
After all, no one’s going to do it for you, but you. So how can you move back or forward into your own space of self-consideration and transformation today? It’s a question only you can answer…and then rock…right…now.