I find that since there can be so many options for exercise, and more options within the different types, it is easy to feel overwhelmed with options. If you really boil it down to a few questions about yourself, it isn’t too hard to figure out what would be good for you!
Check out the video if you’d like to hear me talk about it, but for those of you who prefer reading, I’ll type it below.
I suppose I was lucky that I knew what I would like, so half the battle was over for me right there. I enjoy Yoga, dancing, running, and swimming. As you may know, I have an injury though, which I also had to take into account when picking. Most forms of dance were out, and running was out. I also get cold easily, so forget swimming 90% of the year.
I was left with Yoga! (And a few types of dance, but that’s not what we’re talking about.)
In the video I talked about dancers and swimmers. Many people believe that dancers are naturally good at Yoga, but that is not always the case. Many dancers will have a tendency to hyper extend their knees and arch their backs too far in certain poses. These are the same tendencies that end up injuring many dancers actually. They aren’t strong enough for how flexible they are. This could be a thing on it’s own, but to put it shortly, your joints are not being stabilized by your muscles anymore.
Swimmers, however, are a different story. They are both flexible and strong. I imagine that isn’t the first group of people someone would think about being good at Yoga, I know I wouldn’t, but it’s true. The strength and flexibility they gain from swimming translates really well to Yoga.
My point: Don’t think you’ve got it just because you’re flexible or strong. Yoga will push you on both fronts.
I say this to encourage people who may feel they are naturally flexible and can just work on being bendy, to consider a balance. As well as people who may be extremely strong, to consider stretching. Being overly stiff and lacking a good range of motion in your joints can be just as detrimental.
Alright, now that you’re thinking about working on things you may not have thought to. Let’s tackle those questions I was telling you about!
#1: What do you need to work on?
So are you bendy and not strong? Are you super stiff? This question goes beyond these characteristics as well though! Do you want an injury to heal? Want to feel calmer? What is it that you want to work on in your life that exercise could help you with?
#2: What are the benefits you are looking for?
This could mean you aren’t trying to work on anything. It could also mean there are more benefits that you feel like you need. It could even be as simple as making friends and finding a community you belong to. Most sports/exercise/etc. have a community built around them, and the people love sharing their experiences! You may have to try a few different classes, and a few different places, since each places draws different people, but there are friendly groups wanting to laugh and have a good time, or be serious and quiet. Whatever you’re looking for, it is out there!
That being said, this could also be the same answer as #1.
#3: Why are you doing X anyway?
This is kind of an easy way to combine the top to questions into one, but maybe you’ve already started trying something out, so why did you start doing that? Is that a good reason? If you’re in a Yoga class to check people out, that’s probably a terrible idea. Maybe it isn’t for you.
Maybe you joined that spin class because you have a lot of friends in it. That’s great, and if you are enjoying the class, that’s even better! There’s nothing wrong with joining something because you like the people.
#4: What are your limitation?
This would generally mean injuries, but for some people it could be anything else. A chronic illness, if you are missing a limb, if you have PTSD. What might limit you in your practice. Keep in mind, these are things that you may be able to work through. So don’t think of it as a stopping point all the time, but perhaps a current limitation. There are Yoga classes out there prepared to teach someone who is missing a limb even, but many teacher may not know what to do, so you may need to do more research. There are options though! While a teacher may want to help you, you also need to consider if they are doing the right things for your body, so definitely talk to instructors about your limitations and how they can help.
Those are the best questions I could think of to at least help you get started on finding a practice. I actually only listed 3 in the video, so if you’re reading this: Yay! A bonus one!
Once you answer these, start considering exercises. You may be able to eliminate a ton of exercises right off the bat. You can also do multiple different things. You could switch off with multiple types of Yoga, do Yoga and swimming or running, Yoga and weight-lifting, running and weight-lifting. The possibilities are endless. It’s a good thing though! Don’t feel overwhelmed, it just means you get to pick the perfect practice for you.