Wellness Wednesday Series, Episode 3: Sharing visible physical progress after 2.5 weeks into my January Fitness Challenge.
I am now 15 days into my January Fitness Challenge. I have taken 9 JoyRide classes and 6 Yoga classes at AC Power Yoga since I started (4 of them Bowspring and 2 of them Yin). I don’t have much to report this week other than the fact that I can actually see progress in my body, which makes everything worth it. The JoyRide classes have tightened and lifted my glutes, trimmed down my mid-section and refined my arms. My legs are starting to actually feel a little bit bigger, but it is because my muscles are growing and my fat is trimming. The composition of them has changed a bit. My endurance levels have increased and my tolerance for pushing myself closer to the point of physical exhaustion (which is when you really grow) has become greater.
As for yoga, look at these pictures! I cannot believe how much my alignment has changed in two weeks. More than anything, what this Bowspring practice has awakened is a new sense of awareness in how I am carrying myself most of the time. The photo on the left was taken just before I started my first class. The photo on the right was taken at my last class before writing this post.
Before Bowspring, I was jutting my hips forward and jamming my shoulders back thinking I was standing up straight. I carried my weight on my heels, and what was on repeat in my mind at all times was tuck your bottom; shoulders back. As a result, I had deep built-up tension in my shoulders, neck, and jaw. Now, there is a little voice in my head that says weight on your toes; be up and out; breathe softness. So, instead of tucking my hips in and under, I engage my glutes and take them backward and upward. I lift and separate the backs of my shoulders through breathing into my side and back ribs, and then my head just floats on top of my body without tension. The hunch in my upper back is gone and my head doesn’t jut forward like a turtle.
As far as class time, I am still working and toning muscles without sweating nearly as much as I did in Power Yoga (which, with all of the JoyRides, feels like a nice break). I am awakening new sets of the smaller, deeper muscles that keep the bigger ones together but don’t usually get worked. It has also helped with a new awareness when I’m at JoyRide. While on my bike, I am more mindful of using my feet to engage as many muscles as possible in the backs of my legs and around my hips, which is giving me muscle tone faster. When I am sitting in the saddle, I lift my glutes backward and upward, which creates that “S” curve in my low back. That opens my shoulders and keeps my neck and head in proper alignment, preventing me from turtle-jutting my neck forward and straining it throughout class. The best part about this new mind-body awareness is that it stays with me when I’m working at my desk. Every so often I will catch myself, re-set, and correct when I start to curve over my computer keyboard like Yzma from The Emperor’s New Groove.
In all seriousness though…our bodies learn quickly. And I have certainly pushed mine this month. Throughout my greater journey to wellness I have learned to love my body and to give it what it needs. Some days that is kindness and rest- other days I test it and flirt with its limits. I encourage you to do something to challenge your body, because it will surprise you. And when it does, you will appreciate it and love it just a little bit more. 🙂
Until next Wednesday.
Thanks for reading!
Thank you to JoyRide Texas and AC Power Yoga for sponsoring this series.