For most of my life, I've been a self-proclaimed yoga hater. I'm a very Type A person, so slowing down and focusing on my breathing doesn’t sound appealing. In terms of exercise, I prefer high-energy, sweat-inducing cardio over slow stretches and holding poses.
After constantly hearing about the benefits of yoga from friends and Instagram fitness influencers, I gave into the peer pressure and decided to try it out.
For five days during the first week of May, I incorporated yoga into my daily routine. To find out what worked best for me, I decided to vary it up each day with different videos and intensity levels.
This wasn't the first time I tried my hand at yoga. In March, I started Yoga with Adrienne's 30-day Breathe Challenge on Youtube, but I gave up on day 11. This time, I promised myself to stick with it in hopes that I could learn to love it. Here's what I experienced.
To start off, I decided to go with something easy and slow — Yoga with Kassandra's 10-minute evening flow. I hoped it would relax me before bed, so I did it right before winding down for the night.
Overall, it wasn't terrible. The video catered to beginners, and I got through the 10-minute flow without too many issues.
However, I didn't necessarily find it relaxing. It could have been my location — the bright walls in my bedroom didn't lend themselves well to yoga. It also could have been that I was already tired from a long day. I finished day 1 feeling okay but hoping for a better outcome for the rest of the week.
For day 2, I decided to do a slightly longer flow right after going on a jog with Yoga with Bird's 20-minute full body stretch.
I definitely enjoyed this experience more than day 1. It cooled me down after sweating outside on a warm day, and the calming music in the background was an added plus. I ended the video feeling relaxed.
As someone who has average flexibility, some poses, such as the supine twist, were difficult but not impossible. Bird did a great job of explaining how to best get into the poses and how to modify them if needed. Now, I know what stretches to work on to improve my flexibility.
I've always enjoyed MadFit's home workout videos because they are challenging but manageable. So for day 3, I decided to try out one of her yoga flows, which I hadn't explored before. I wanted a medium-length one, so I chose the 20-minute full body yoga for stress.
I really enjoyed the options and modifications that Maddie provided as she took me through this flow; they helped make harder poses, like the previously mentioned supine twist, easier. In some of the high-energy poses, like a one-legged downward dog, I forgot about consistent breathing, so her reminders to inhale and exhale were also nice.
I left this flow feeling refreshed but also relaxed, which is exactly the combination I wanted.
I decided I wanted something more high-energy for day 4, so I chose Yoga with Adrienne's 12-minute core conditioning. Compared to the last three days, I found this one harder. It involved bicycle crunches, leg lifts and more.
However, I really enjoyed it. It had a good mix of holding strengthening poses and doing active work. Adrienne constantly made encouraging comments and kept me going through tiring moments.
On day 5, I chose another flow to wind down after doing some cardio and weights — a 15-minute cool down led by Jessica Richburg. I figured this video would be quick while also offering a thorough stretch routine.
The stretches that Jessica included in the flow — lunges, child's pose and more — were easy, but the video targeted my whole body, so I felt great afterwards. I left day 5 feeling inspired to incorporate parts of this flow into my daily stretching routine.
Overall, while reflecting on the week, I figured out that I'm not made to solely use yoga as a workout. I preferred to follow shorter, higher energy videos in addition to my regular workout routine, which I kept up with during the week.
Going forward, it's not something I plan to do every single day. However, I will be incorporating yoga as an ab workout or stretching routine here and there. The benefits were evident — my back hurt less — even after spending long hours sitting in front of a computer —and I felt more focused and relaxed.