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Finding Your Yoga Fit

Benefits of yoga are undeniable, but it is not a one-size-fits-all sport. It might take trial and error to discover the class that's right for you.

I’m among a bit of a competitive family … and a bit might be putting it too mildly.

For example, my sister-in-law has a hard time at yoga class because she is always opening her eyes and peaking at the other students to make sure she is relaxing better than the rest.

While I am also competitive, I am most competitive with myself. I love running, biking and swimming because they offer me the opportunity to compete with my most recent race time or my fastest pace.  So though I understand the benefits, I have struggled to find the right yoga fit for me. 

Unfortunately, I had come to think of yoga as forced relaxation. But in the past year I have been lucky enough to find three different kinds of yoga that appeal to my sense of competition.

  • I fully expected to hate hot yoga, considering it combines two of the things I enjoy least — forced relaxation and heat. But I liked it much more than expected.  To be fair, this had more to do with the instructor, who was also a triathlete, than the heat or the type of yoga itself.
  • I wasn’t sure that the second type was for me either until I finally worked up the nerve to try it. Yin yoga, which calls for holding poses for as long as fifteen minutes, seemed like an odd fit since I have difficulty sitting still even during a movie. Fortunately, there was an element of competition involved with yin yoga as well. Holding the poses through the pain was a challenge, and challenges I can do.
  • But, by far, the yoga I enjoyed the most and found to be the best fit for my personality is vinyasa flow. 

, Patch Columnist and yoga instructor, teaches vinyasa flow in College Park at the Greenbelt Community Church on Monday nights.

“Vinyasa flow is great for athletes,” Schock said, “It is a killer workout that connects breath with flow.”

For me, this type of yoga is a challenge because it calls for moving from one pose to another relatively quickly and then repeating the sequence several times.  It is a workout in which I can work up a sweat.

“I really love teaching yoga,” Schock said, “but the best part is when someone comes up to me after a few classes and tells me how much stronger they feel because of the class.”

As an endurance athlete, I understand the importance of breath, mobility and flexibility, and I understand that these areas can all be improved by yoga.

For me, finding the right yoga fit was the key to making it a part of my regular fitness routine.

Gretchen Schock September 28, 2011 at 07:10 PM
Great article Ann. I was wonderful speaking with you about yoga. My website for folks to check out class times is www.BeeYogaFusion.com Hope to see you in class!
Chrissy Rey September 28, 2011 at 07:14 PM
Gretchen is a great yoga instructor. I just wish I had some more kid-free time to take her classes!

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