A WEEK OF: Yoga

A Week Of:, Health & Fitness, Lifestyle, missjessamy

After hurting my back at the end of February and it being too painful to do any of my regular gym activities, I wanted something that would keep me active, but that would not put too much strain on my neck, back and shoulder area—giving it time to heal through gentle movement and stretches. 

Yoga has always challenged me as I prefer high-intensity workouts and find it hard to switch off and hold my poses during a session to really ‘feel the energy’. 

Nevertheless, I decided just to do one morning of yoga when I woke up on Sunday, February 23rd super stiff and in pain, but wanting to be still active. And after this one morning, I thought I would set myself a challenge leading to A WEEK OF: Yoga. 

At the start of this week, I began with only stretching yoga sessions that focused on my neck, back and shoulders as I wanted to trigger some further relief after my chiropractor appointment and deep tissue massage. 

The first day I was focused on the pain I was experiencing and was moving slowly, trying my best to breathe through the discomfort. And I couldn’t believe it when my hour session was up, and I felt excellent. 

There were two main youtube channels that I used for my sessions. Predominately I watched Yoga With Adriene who I love. Her videos are so specific that I was able to target my problem areas during my stretching sessions and avoid those areas when I wanted more of a workout. And then I also really enjoyed Boho Beautiful. She has a more high-intensity yoga and pilates videos which were great as my back started to get better towards the end of this week.

So keep reading to follow my week of yoga. 

DAY ONE: Sunday, February 23rd 

After seeing my chiropractor on Friday and getting an intense massage on Saturday, my whole back, shoulder and neck area were quite aggravated. I woke up very stiff and in need of some significant stretching and slow movement. This was where I realised that the gym was OUT OF THE QUESTION and that I should try to give myself some TLC through mindful yoga. I did an hour session on Sunday morning after queueing multiple of Yoga With Adriene’s upper body focused stretching videos. I could not believe how fast my session went! I was super focused the whole time on my muscles and trying to move as mindfully as possible, so I did not further injure myself, and before I knew it, my time was up. 

Admittedly, I was still experiencing a fair bit of pain after my session, but I did feel a LOT better and felt that I could move more freely. I also noticed that I felt calmer and ready for the day. Initially, I was nervous; I would feel more tired after doing such a slow-moving workout early in the morning, but it was quite the opposite. 

I had a jam-packed day on this Sunday with a full shift at work and then an afternoon barbecue. But I feel that this session gave me the relief I needed to get through this day with lessened pain and a clear mindset. 

DAY TWO: Monday, February 24th

This morning I was not feeling well at all. My back was very tight again, and I had been woken up multiple times in the night with neck pain which had lead me to feel fuzzy in the head and nauseous due to lack of sleep. However, being the second day, I was still committed to doing my yoga session to see how I would feel afterwards. I only did about 30 minutes this morning, and I honestly felt so much better after. On this morning, I still did a stretching focused yoga session but thought I would give my back and neck a break and not focus on stretching them the whole time. So, I also stretched out my legs and abs, which felt great as well. I did not realise how tight I was in areas like my hip flexors, lower abs and feet. So this session brought my awareness to my whole body. 

DAY THREE: Tuesday, February 25th

After already beginning to feel the relief and benefits from my first two days, I was looking forward to my session this morning. I felt a lot better in my neck, back and shoulders and attempted to do a more strength-building yoga session. However, I soon learned that I was not ready and just resorted back to a slower session that focused on mindfulness and flexibility. I was starting to love the range of yoga moves and flow sequences that kept reappearing through the different videos. I was beginning to feel more confident in my steps; being able to extend further and become more focused on clearing my mind and breathing deeply through the more intense parts of the session. 

I also felt I was becoming better at zoning in on my movements and the flow; being able to control my thoughts. Although I was not 100% clear-minded, I felt a sense of zen I had not experienced before. 

DAY FOUR: Wednesday, February 26th

Today I felt great! Finally feeling the severe tightness in my back, neck and shoulders release and feeling that my ability to move become freer. At the halfway point of this challenge, I was surprised that I was still feeling committed to this. As I said before, I do high-intensity workouts daily and did not think I would be able to work up a sweat and get my muscles working through these mindful yoga sessions. 

Also, I’ve realised that I have felt a lot more mellow during this experience. Despite starting my day with yoga, I have felt that at the end of the night when it is bedtime, I am finding it more comfortable to wind down and fall asleep straight away.

DAY FIVE: Thursday, February 27th

I am slowly starting to increase the intensity of my yoga sessions with more weight loss and muscle building yoga sessions than the stretching ones. But I still love how, despite working up a sweat, there is still a sense of mindfulness and simplicity to my sessions. I also feel like I am getting post-workout muscle pain – like I have targeted muscles that I have been missing in my other workouts. I think that moving slower and focusing on my breathing and specific muscles has allowed me to target deeper areas that I often ignore. 

DAY SIX: Friday, February 28th

Today I WAS SORE and was so surprised. If you asked me before I began this challenge what I thought yoga did for your body, I would have said it was purely focused on stretching and mindfulness; but I was wrong. Yesterday’s workout worked my abs and legs, and I can feel it. My obliques and lower abs are quite sore, as well as my glutes. I continued with a more intense yoga session today with two videos from Boho Beautiful, which were an intense ab focused pilates session and a cardio session. 

DAY SEVEN: Saturday, February 29th

The final day of my one-week yoga challenge. Today I was feeling energetic and ready to do another yoga and pilates session that were more intense; as my back felt a lot better. As I workout first thing in my morning, I woke up today looking forward to getting my session started. I was also definitely still feeling like I had worked deep muscles in my previous days’ sessions as I was feeling super strong in my abs and legs.

DAY EIGHT: Sunday, March 1st

Today was my first day back to my regular high-intensity workouts, which felt great. However, I honestly noticed the difference in my mindset when I finished my workout and almost felt ‘not done yet’ when I left my session as I started to crave that mindfulness and stillness that the yoga sessions gave me. I am going to prioritise yoga from now on in my workouts. Because not only did it make me feel great physically, but mentally I felt so in control and ‘zen’. 

As someone who struggles with anxiety and stress along with being the queen of overthinking and fretting about things I really CANNOT control. Starting my day with time for myself that did not involve intense concentration and high-intensity craziness was nice. I did not expect to experience such powerful changes from this challenge. After my yoga sessions, I felt I was able to look at my day with a more calm mindset and felt more productive and happier throughout the day and week. 

Admittedly, I probably will not do yoga every day as I still love my high-intensity sessions, including running and weight lighting. However, I feel this week has taught me how to be more mindful within my body (physically and mentally), and it has shown me the importance of replacing some of my gym sessions with yoga sessions so I can refresh my mind and muscles. 

Do you like yoga? Let me know what benefits you get from yoga and let me know if you are going to try this challenge. 

Have a great day. x

Reforming My View On Fitness.

Health & Fitness, missjessamy

In school, I wanted to be skinny; I wanted that Instagram bikini body and I thought the only way to get that was cardio and minimal eating, this is indeed not the case! Focusing on building muscle and strength was not part of my workout routines ever, as I always thought I would bulk out and lose a lean figure.

So in my senior years of school when I began to get more of a routine, I was just doing cardio, and I ate clean. Did I lose weight? Yeah, I did. What I thrilled with how my body looked? No. Why? Because I wasn’t toned and I wasn’t strong at all. I struggled with bad posture, weak knees and a shoulder injury which was in the limbo zone of improvement.

The moment I realised how important strength was for physical health was when I was sitting in a shoulder surgeons office hearing that I would have to get shoulder surgery to fix my right shoulder.

*quick flash back*

In 2015 I was in rehearsals for a show. It was a children’s show, so it was high energy and very physical. When we were doing a warm up, I was distracted, and someone came up and hit my arm upwards (it was part of the game). With the hit, my arm went straight up and around, forcing my shoulder to pull a full 360. And what I found out later was that my shoulder dislocated, pulling my ligaments and then returning to its position. This effects of this incident were worsened by me being double jointed and already having weak joints.

So fast forward to mid-2016, and here I was, being given three months with a Physio to improve my condition or it was under the knife for me. I was determined not to have surgery. It would mean I wouldn’t be able to use my dominant arm for over six months recovery; therefore meaning I’d not be able to work, drive, write or work out. Also, I had an overseas trip planned, in which this surgery would have inhibited me from doing heaps of fun activities while away.

So I began physio, and it was hard and painful, but I slowly got better. And I started to realise that my strength was building and this strength was healing and protecting my weak shoulder. A few months later, I was cleared by the physio for surgery and to this day, by maintaining my strength, my shoulder has gone from 40% to 85% (it’s still not 100% perfect).

But how have I maintained this strength? With Pilates and it has changed my view on fitness and taking care of my body. My mum had been going a local studio for about six months and was enjoying it. So after I graduated high school and had more time on my hands and more money from being able to work more, I thought I’d give it ago. And honestly, after the first session, I was hooked. Within the first few weeks of doing pilates regularly, I noticed I was getting stronger, and I felt great. My shoulder pain was further reduced, and the weight I could handle was increasing.

What I love most about it is that in the 45 minutes you’re in a class for, you get a whole body workout; your legs, abs, arms, back, booty is all taken care of. You honestly will not believe the burn you get and the post workout muscle pain you feel until you try Pilates for yourself. It targets muscles I never knew I had and I leave sweaty after every session; despite their being super cold air conditioning. I have toned up so much since starting pilates, and despite the increase in muscle, I have maintained a lean physique.

Last year, I didn’t enjoy workouts, I did them because I felt obligated to lose weight. But now my mindset has been transformed, and I have fallen in love with being fit, strong and healthy. And I love working out; I look forward to my class. Every session I’m doing a different workout, and I can feel my body getting stronger with every move. I highly recommend trying Pilates for yourself and seeing AND feeling the differences.