- December 7, 2014
Its been a while since I’ve made a post about yoga. Yoga has become something different to me than it ever was before. It used to be about the ashtanga practice, now that I rarely participate in that style of movement its about the deeper aspects of the practice. One thing that seems to be a theme in my life these days is the importance of rest, alone time and taking care of yourself. Last weekend I won the Provincial Championship for raw powerlifitng, which was a huge accomplishment and a bit of a surprise. Not a surprise because I haven’t worked for it, but a surprise because I was competing in a heavy weight class and was definitely the underdog. All week I’ve been catching up with friends, and realizing how far I’ve come over the course of 1 year.
I used to be completely addicted to exercise, whether it was my yoga practice, running or long distance walking, it was an addiction. I remember having days full of anxiety and the thing that would help me most was exercising without any real rhyme or reason. One day I might go to the gym and deadlift to max (this was happening a lot, hah!), in the afternoon I would do three hours of yoga, the next day I would try to run 10 km. In the grand scheme of things there are much worse addictions to have, and in times of great stress you do whatever it takes just to survive.
The problem with this method of training is its hard to really get anywhere. I’m all for the generalist approach of being able to do many things, but I believe it has to be structured in a way that makes sense. Over training is a real thing, and its hard to improve when you are stressing your body so much all the time. In my days of stress induced over training I would crave sugar, not sleep well, sometimes eat too little or too much, turning my internal thermostat up and down daily and wrecking my health and balance.
This is where having a goal and the real yoga practice comes in. When I committed to my first powerlifting competition I began to follow a program to get stronger, to make my lifts heavier and to be a better athlete. This meant structure. This meant that if I was feeling anxious or crappy one day, and my program didn’t include a 10 km run I had to find a different way to deal with those feelings. This is a good thing and its something that I continue to navigate through.
Someone asked me this week how I’ve managed to put on so much strength in such a short period of time. I told them, it surprises me right now how much I’m improving, I’ve never trained so little and had such great results. Yes I work hard and I’m extremely motivated and determined, but in the past I’ve always thought you have to be training harder and harder to get better results. What I’ve really made peace with is if you aren’t properly recovering from your training, you might as well have just skipped it.
This is where the yoga practice comes in. Not only for its physical benefits (which are huge, everyone in the gym should be doing yoga twice a week!) but for the additional benefits as well. Learning how to listen to what your body is telling you, because when you put everything into balance the negative symptoms go away. You don’t feel tired, your hormones come into balance, you don’t crave sugar and you sleep through the night.
The idea of don’t work hard, work smart. If you could do a bit less, but get more out of it you will have energy for other things as well. Yoga practice and mobility are the keys to my success, taking the time to make sure my body is working well is why I’ve come so far over the past year. My coach tells me this all the time. As long as I follow what he programs, do my recovery practice and not undo everything with random work outs, the strength is going to come.
Listen to what your body is telling you, sleep, hormone balance, food cravings and overall mood will tell you everything. Do yoga, go to the float tank, make a green smoothie, go out with your friends, stretch, sleep and love.