Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Falling off the (Fitness) Wagon

Over the past twenty-plus years, many yoga students have shared their frustrations about building overall fitness. While everybody that I’ve talked to has recognized the importance of fitness, particularly aerobic fitness, many have shared tales of frustration and thwarted goals.

I’ve long asked myself: Why does a population of committed yogis and yoginis have a difficult time maintaining aerobic fitness? Certainly it’s not for a lack of discipline, nor for a lack of knowledge. It seems to me that there is more than meets the eye when it comes to what keeps many of us from enjoying optimal health and vitality.

I have come to believe that how many of us have pursued fitness is part of the problem. There are various ways to develop heart-healthy fitness, yet many of us struggle to stick with a routine.  I’ve talked with so many yogis and yoginis who have found paths to fitness that they enjoy, yet they seem to find themselves falling off the wagon again and again.

I’ve experienced this pulsating relationship to fitness myself. I’ll focus heartily on yoga for a while, and really enjoy the openness and ease that flows from the practice. All is well but I’ll start to experience:
  • Breathing harder going up stairs,
  • My body getting misaligned easily,
  • Gaining weight,
  • Feeling like I have to do yoga to feel OK.
From experience, I’ve come to know that these are reminders to reconnect with aerobic fitness. I’ll resume Nordic skiing, biking and running (my favorite fitness activities) and almost immediately start to feel more resilient and physically capable. Yet, almost inevitably, I fall away from the activities that I love and lose the fitness that I’ve gained.

This cycle has followed me since college, and I’ve spent a lot of time beating myself up over this unsteady relationship to fitness. Just recently, I decided to shift the beating myself up energy into exploring the why behind this pattern. As I’ve shared my experience with colleagues, I’ve found that I’m in good company. Dare I say, this pattern is an epidemic in the yoga community?

(to be continued)

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