Amp Up Movement, Slow Down the Mind.

Living a balanced, healthy lifestyle has been challenging. John and I have lost some weight, but we're definitely far from perfect when it comes to our diets. We workout often and track our activity with a Fitbit, but we still haven't found the perfect way to stay active.

Last June, right after a stressful school year ended, I was seeking at at-home yoga practice. Specifically, I was looking for something that I could follow at my own pace and still reap all of the health benefits of a solid yoga program. My sister-in-law owns a yoga studio, but the 30 minute drive was challenging for me to swing twice a week (or more). I just needed something I could do at home. Amping up my movement, while slowing down my mind was my intention. 

I stumbled across, and subscribed to their YouTube channel and some of their Challenge playlists. It seemed I found a Golden Ticket! After about a week of daily yoga practice, which consisted of a 10- to 25-minute lesson or flow and a guided meditation, I started to notice a few things:
  • My flexibility was greatly improving. I wasn't able to do a backbend, a handstand, or twist into a pretzel, but I was able to get into the moves quickly and without pain. 
  • After about 2 weeks, I was attempting harder poses like The Crow, with a modification of course. I cannot even tell you what this was doing for my self-esteem.

  • I was sore! But it it was a different type of sore than I'd experienced with other types of workouts. I think this is because yoga is low impact, but I can't be sure. 
  • Focusing on my breathing and clearing my mind became easier. As a result, at the end of a workout I felt physically stronger and mentally clear. Sometimes while I'm working out at the gym it's easy to check my phone, read emails, make mental to-do lists, and basically keep 'working'. Yoga forced me to quiet the noise in my head. 
To accelerate my yoga practice, I also talked with Heidi, a Beachbody Coach, and she hooked with up with a PiYo program. This program is also low impact and uses so many of the moves that I've learned over the last 8 months during my in-home yoga practice. I sweat more and get my heart rate up faster with PiYo, and it's a nice switch on occasion from my regular yoga practice. 

You'll remember that about 8 weeks ago I joined the Iowa Food and Family Project's blogger team for the annual Live Healthy Iowa Challenge. This is my second year on the IFFP team, but I have participated in the challenge with some teacher friends at a school where I used to teach. Our IFFP team consists of a bunch of my blogger friends. This accountability throughout the Challenge has helped me be mindful of wearing my Fitbit (the steps sync automatically to my Live Healthy Iowa Dashboard!) and the power of a team. 

Right now my girls Ally, and Katy, and Stephanie are crushing it with their level of activity! Please check out each of their blogs; you're going to love these women. 

What do you do to stay active? Have you tried yoga? 

I have a $25 Scheels gift card to give away to one lucky reader, courtesy of Iowa Food and Family Project! Just leave a comment and you're entered to win. I will draw a winner on the last day of our 10-week challenge, March 31st.

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  1. After years of trying to force myself to enjoy the gym, I got back into yoga. I had dabbled in it several years ago but now am practicing at a studio 3-5 days a week. It is my happy place. I love the simplicity of it and the fact that not only my body os healthier from it but also my spirit, mood and overall attitude. I leave feeling refreshed and ready to take on the world. Lol. I also walk my pups several times a day to keep myself moving.

    1. I love this. It's exactly how 'healthy living' should feel.

    2. I'm no spring chicken, I'm approaching my 62nd birthday, and I have issues that come with aging and a chronic health condition.But I lead an active life, I walk, ride my bike, kayak and yes, I took a Yoga class at the college here in town. It was a "Stretch" yoga class, not so much the tying-yourself-into-a -pretzel kind of a class and I loved it. It was really relaxing ( low lights, mellow music) and I left feeling as tho I'd really done something good for myself! I did the class for the 8 weeks and then they changed the time. It didn't work out for me, so I bought a DVD on Amazon and do it in my living room with my cat, Sid! Keep moving! It's when you quit that you start to fall apart!

    3. Blair, you're the winner! Will you send me an email with your mailing address?

  2. Yes. I love yoga. I've bern doing yoga for 4 years now. I pinched a nerve in my neck 4 years ago. Was told to try yoga, I was hooked. I live by a 2 mile trail. We use it alomdt daily. Fresh air while enjoying nature is ingredients for a healthy life!

  3. I seriously need to work on creating an at home routine. I've tried lunchtime yoga at a studio but it's so hard to rip myself out of my day and makes it difficult to calm myself (although it probably helped when I did make it). I always notice a difference in my anxiety level when I'm consistently practicing yoga!

  4. I have been part of so many gyms, I just hated going - the grunting weight lifters, the smell of Axe body spray, the monthly fees and the crowds were enough to make me dread working out, period. I decided that I was done paying $50 a month for something I didn't enjoy, so I bought some hand weights at Wal-Mart and set up my own work-out space in my basement. Now, I power walk outside on nice days, workout DVDs, body weight exercises and mini yoga sessions. I took yoga classes in college at Field of Yoga in Cedar was amazing. I loved it so much, then Mary the owner/teacher closed the studio and I have not found a yoga space that clicked with me like that one did. Yoga made my mind clear, I felt so at ease & at peace when I would practice. 1 hour 3 days a week I was in a different world and it was awesome and bonus my body loved yoga as much as my mind - I lost about 15lbs (disclaimer: I was doing a Yoga Boot Camp and it was geared toward clearing your mind and feeling the burn).

  5. I've never really gotten into yoga. I prefer to ride my bike outside when it's nice out. Otherwise I'll stick with the elliptical during the winter.

  6. Also living in Iowa - I find it daunting to stick to any exercise program. In the summer its not a problem, but the winters are difficult. Sometimes, the only option is to head to the local mall and walk! I have never tried yoga but am interested in the benefits. Can anyone recommend a good book or video for beginners? And I mean really new newbies! :)

  7. I have never tried yoga. I know they have modified positions but still I feel unbalanced and would spend 1/2 (or more) or my time getting back into position. lol

  8. I love to cycle. I had taken spin classes for a while and it was the best workout I've ever had. Fast forward and pregnant with our second child I am no where as active as I would like to be. I need to find a happy medium between taking care of myself but also being with family. I'm a full-time​ student and will be in nursing school in the summer. It won't be any easier, but am looking for something that I can get back into.

  9. Great job Kelli! I've been waking up at 5:00 am (ugh) and doing Classical Stretch on IPTV at 5:30, followed by my devotional and some quiet down time before the kids get up. I'm loving it!

  10. I do some yoga at home, but just a few poses. I'd like to do more of it. I also bike, speed clean, take my dog for walks, and do exercises while I watch tv. I don't have a fit bit, but I try to get in as many steps as I can. (= Carrie

  11. we stay active by taking our dogs for walks, and biking. I have wanted to try yoga, but often the practices I see online are already too advanced for me. I will have to check out the website you mentioned!

  12. Several weeks ago, we had taken our son to a swim meet. One night in the hotel, I had a severe charlie-horse cramp that went for 20 minutes before relenting. That morning, I had one in the other leg. These were not unusual for me to have, normally being super careful lest any odd movement put me there. Plus, I've had a few falls, my mobility is poor and back pain. After the swim meet, I decided to search Youtube and landed upon Chair Yoga for the Elderly. After two sessions, no more leg cramps. Continuing on, I've lost much of the pain, mobility has become more stable and though I'm still modifying some of the chair moves (sad, I know), others I'm progressing to standing with the aid of the chair. Sometimes, my husband will join me. We will be empty-nesters in 5 months (yikes!) but have goals to begin water aerobics, distance bike riding, mild hiking and camping and I need to be mobile enough to do it!

  13. Yoga is pretty much effective to reduce stress what i have experienced though myself. It change my lifestyle a lot. I prefer to do yoga.

    May i know how do you keep your environment during yoga session and what time do you prefer?

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