A college friend of mine used to get his work done in great, epic fits of energy lasting entire nights and into mid-morning the next day. I'm not sure what combination of caffeine and possible other substances helped him achieve these feats of academic stamina, but I know he often mentioned--in the midst of such marathons--engaging in sessions of what he called "vigorous stretching."
The term was always funny to me because stretching seemed more like something to do in order to relax, not to get fired up. But I'd seen him do this stretching before, and it was definitely more of an active, energy-boosting activity that a wind-down. He would change stretching positions very quickly and do the whole routine with all kinds of excitement and urgency. And even though I'd seen this routine, I still had a difficult time imagining how stretching in any form could be invigorating.
To me, stretching was just the boring and rotten part of P.E. (well, that and the running), and the part that I wasn't very good at. I'd like to think it's extra long legs that prevents me from touching my toes, but if that's any part of it, it's a small part compared to the stiff, Frankengenes I inherited from my Dad.
Still, I've always wanted to try Yoga. Seems like drillions of women out there swear by the practice (and I recognize that it's a well-developed practice with many schools rather that just a complex form of stretching), even ones who are in great shape and do nothing more than practice Yoga to get their exercise. I did buy a prenatal Yoga DVD that I used during my pregnancy, but I'm pretty sure it was a super cautious, watered-down version of Yoga, so I didn't really count that.
Early on when I got my iPhone I downloaded a Yoga program, and there it sat getting lonely until I updated and employed it this evening:
Today's New Activity: Exploring iPhone Yoga app Programs
What I came to realize early on in both the "Sun Salutation for Wellness" and "Shakti Yoga: Stretching" programs is that the energizing aspect of Yoga comes through all the deep breathing, along with the simply feeling parts of your body you could easily forget about if it weren't for the fact that you were trying to touch them to each other or point them in all new directions.
On the first go round I wasn't very good at some of the poses. Bending in half with my head pressed up against my legs (no bending at the knee) is just not something I can do. I wish I could! I just think that looks cool and somehow relaxing. But I can't.
Still, I enjoyed the practice of going through the routines. The programs have a narrator who tells you what to do next along with large and clear photos of a very normal-looking woman doing all the poses. By normal, I mean that she doesn't look like some freakish Cirque du Soleil performer...just a regular woman who happens to be more bendy than me, for now anyway.
While I can't say I plan to run down and enroll in any Yoga classes at the moment, I'm glad to have finally shown that app the light of day and I will be doing a routine here or there. It was a nice break in my evening routine and I actually had a hard time sleeping afterward because it did somehow fill me with energy. Maybe I should be doing lunchtime Yoga to help me get a second wind during the long afternoon hours at work. It'd be cheaper than the pearl tea I usually rely upon, and would have the opposite effect on my health...which is a good thing.