Saturday, March 12, 2011

My Great Loves

Everyone knows you only get two great loves in your life.
 Charlotte, Sex & The City

I have been doing some very awesome things lately. First, I volunteered for the Can-Fit-Pro Conference (first time in Edmonton!) which was an amazing experience. I was room monitor during Maureen Hagan's presentation on how to make it big in the fitness industry which basically meant I got to attend it (but was not able to receive CECs for it) and I met her personally! *starstruck* Being a volunteer meant that I got to go to the rest of the conference for free, so I attended Maureen's Awesome Abs for a Better Back workshop and a lecture on understanding personality types to enhance fitness instruction (for which I did receive CECs).

The whole day was just amazing, plus I finally bought myself a Bender Ball kit which included a 2-in-1 DVD for abs and butt & legs. And for those of you who are unaware of the Bender Ball, it is simply the greatest thing you could ever use for your abs. It's claim to fame is it's ability to make the traditional crunch 300% more effective, which essentially means that your crunches burn 3x more when you use the Bender Ball. It also makes ab work safer and can be used to train your other body parts in various ways. I even use it during my yoga classes sometimes, and everyone really enjoys the extra challenge the Bender Ball brings.

I have another conference coming up: the YMCA Spring Training, which will have tons of amazing speakers, including Marjorie O' Connor and Paul Plakas of X-Weighted. Immediately after, I will (finally, finally, finally!) be doing my Zumba Basics 1 Instructor Training. I haven't actually been to a Zumba class lately (since my favorite Zumba instructor took a hiatus), but I have been working out to the DVDs in my Zumba Total Body Transformation Kit. Which I think serves me better for now, because I get to learn the actual technique that they'll be teaching at the training, which means I'll be able to get more out of it. They're also doing a Bender Ball Instructor training on the same day, which of course I would've liked to attend as well... Next time, for sure.

Over the past few months my yoga practice has really evolved. While I still teach and practice powerful vinyasa flow yoga, I have been taking classes from an Iyengar instruction and am really loving it. I love the slower pace, I love the time spent on really making the pose precise, and I love how I feel like I've just been through a taffy puller at the end of class :P Ever since I increased my amount of cardio and high-impact activity, I've felt my yoga practice adjust to balance my body and my life. Back when yoga was my main form of physical activity, I preferred a heavy, vinyasa practice; now that I've gotten back into the fitness groove, my yoga practice has become quieter with its purpose being more to rejuvenate and restore. Certainly that doesn't mean that I've eliminated sun salutations, or inversions, etc. In fact, quite the contrary.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that now I'm returning to the activities I've always loved (instead of just doing yoga), I appreciate my yoga practice more because I need it more. Before I had gotten back into weight training, dancing and group fitness, there was always the thought in the back of my mind that my yoga practice had to cover every aspect of my wellness - I had to do some strength moves, I had to make sure I up my heart rate so that I can come close to achieving a cardiovascular state, I had to make sure it filled my spiritual well. Otherwise, it all seemed like it would almost be a waste of time.

Now of course, you can build immense, ripped strength with yoga. Tons of people do, with yoga exclusively. And of course you can up your heart rate doing heavy vinyasa flows although you will not reach the target heart rate needed to build cardiovascular health (there is an article in Yoga Journal's special issue, Yoga for Health and Fitness discussing just this issue). And of course, yoga fills my spiritual well.

However. I really started to appreciate the healing aspects of yoga when I started letting my body expand in other areas. It's one thing to really open your lower back and hams in Janu Sirsasana after a long day at work; quite another to feel it after your body is experiencing DOMS (delayed-onset muscle soreness) from a combination of a hard-hitting Step class which included weights. The purpose of yoga in my life now is to balance everything; to bring everything I do together, to make everything I do more pleasurable, and to ensure that I can keep doing everything I love to do indefinitely.

I've always done yoga for the sake of doing it, for the pure pleasure and freedom it gives my body. But I've always loved other activities as well, and I am so grateful that I've finally allowed myself to bring all of these "great loves" back to my life. I know that yoga is more than enough for a lot of people (and I am well aware that in the yoga community, many scoff at the idea of even stepping inside a gym least of all participating in the activities), but I've always been in love with the fitness world. And this certainly makes me a bit of a "black sheep" in the Edmonton yoga community, that's for sure. But hey, the fact is, I've always been a yoga girl and a gym bunny, and I think that being both makes me better at both :)

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