I’m not a gym hater by any means. I worked in a gym (and thus worked out in a gym) for five years. I lead a very active lifestyle: I go to the yoga studio, practice at home, ride my bike, walk, hike, indoor rock climb, hula hoop…you name it. I’m a big fan of heart-pumping activity that brings a smile to my face.
That said, I didn’t access the “best shape of my life” until I quit the gym.
Long ago, my relationship to the gym had turned into a guilt cycle. I’d feel a bit anxious, all cooped up indoors, watching the numbers scroll upwards on some cardio machine. Often I’d sit in traffic on my way to the gym thinking, If I’d gone for a bike ride I’d already be halfway done by now …
I started to wonder what was the point of driving to a place where I could move on indoor machines in order to break a sweat, when I had everything I needed.
It wasn’t until I really dove deeper into my yoga practice that I tapped into its capacity to offer a holistic workout. I hadn’t been searching for a workout; it was a byproduct. What I had been looking for, and found, was a back-to-basics approach to health and vitality.
Turns out these are the three key ingredients to health:
- One’s body
All I needed was my very own body. Not some fancy gym membership, not a treadmill in my garage, not anything but the very body I’m living and breathing in right now as I write this. We have 100 to 200 pounds, give or take, of weight to work with when we move our bodies. Naturally! One needn’t even get in the car, instead just get down on the carpet and use your own body weight to provide an excellent workout and build unimaginable strength. (Hello, plank, side plank, chaturanga pushups, leg lowers!) Or go for a walk. Your very own body can and will provide you with cardio, strengthening, and flexibility if you move it in a way that makes your heart sing.
I also needed some motivation. I felt so unmotivated to go to the gym. But, now, I unroll my mat or hop on my bike or meet a girlfriend for a hike or step out my front door for a brisk walk (or, or, or! The possibilities are endless!) Motivation for something, something real. Not to look a certain way or burn a certain number of calories, but to have a strong pumping heart, a solid set of legs, a steady supportive core, a free and spacious mind, limber and lithe muscles…motivation to actually want to feel and be holistically healthy (the very same motivation that prompts one to start loading kale and other leafies into one’s smoothies!).
I left the biggie for last: intuition. One must learn to tap into one’s own intuition, hear it, and then (here comes the hardest part) listen to it! Our intuition always knows best and it will tell us what kind of movement will make our heart sing, but we love to second guess it. The moment I listened to mine and dove headfirst into my yoga practice, it was like I realized I could breathe underwater. I built self-confidence, strength, vitality, endurance and passion for life. The byproduct of this was even more enjoyment of the other activities I’ve always loved!
There’s nothing like not counting time or numbers on a machine and, instead, just really getting into one’s own body. Really feeling sweat on the back, air nourishing the lungs, adrenaline coursing through the limbs. There’s nothing like discovering, through the unapologetic pursuit of physical activity that provides childlike pleasure. I’ve found that I have increased lung capacity, a stronger, healthier body, and higher self-esteem.
Photo Credit: MindBodyGreen.com via Shutterstock