Exercise and I have always had a dubious relationship. I like to get things done once and then never have to do them again, which makes exercise an extremely tedious and repetitive chore for me. However, annoyingly, the “exercise people” (the people who keep telling us all to do exercise) are right. It’s not just for looking good in a bikini anymore. Now that we’re old it’s so we won’t die early. So there’s a less fun and more necessary reason to start exercising.
A few years ago, when I started doing Yoga, I just leapt right into it, as I do with each exercise fad I get into. I committed (publicly and on Facebook, even!) to doing it once a day for 30 days, and I did it, but I tell you, it was annoying to make it to a class every single day. However, I did notice a huge difference in myself. I became less tired during the day (ironically), and I felt stronger, fitter, than I ever had before. The more regularly I did it the easier it was, which was fun to discover. I also found myself enjoying it, as much as one can enjoy exercise, probably, and it was fun to be a part of a communal identity with a shared interest in being as stationary as possible while still (technically) exercising. Yoga, as one of my instructors informed me once, gives as much focus to intentional times of rest as intentional times of intensity, and any kind of exercise that involves intentional periods of rest is something I figured I could get behind. My favourite pose, savasana, involves basically lying on the floor, gasping, in a deliciously darkened room. I also decided, during these intense 30 days, that instead of calling it “yoga” class they should call it “farts-holding-in” class, because that’s what you are doing the whole time you are there, and we all know it’s true.
But still, adding stress and another place to be at a certain time (i.e. The yoga studio), became an issue for me, along with the copious amounts of money I was paying monthly to only make it to one or two yoga classes a week. This is when I decided that I would just set aside a little corner of my home to make a yoga studio that was just for me, where I could leave my mat out and just roll out of bed in the morning and groggily stumble to my mat in my stained “I HEART NEW YORK” t-shirt and underpants and do as much yoga as I have time for in that day, be that 15 minutes, or 15 minutes.
The nice thing about it is that it stretches out my crunched muscles in the morning, and allows me to spend a little productive me-focussed time before a hectic day begins. And even if that whole 15 mins is entirely spent doing savasana, there is no one around me who looks better in short-shorts to be secretly judging me. The only frustrating thing about it is that my small children, who are ALWAYS up before me, find my early morning Yoga practice FASCINATING, and love watching my creaky body groan and contort in all kinds of embarrassing positions. They will both regularly acquire front-row seats to watch the show, which would probably bother me if I wasn’t too tired to care. All they need is giant bags of popcorn to stuff in their faces while they watch.
Of course I miss the yoga community, but I try to go to a class now and then so I can stay connected a wee bit, and also get a chance to do hot yoga, which I love because you are sweating pretty much right away in that class, so you really feel like you are getting results, even though all you’d done so far was roll out your mat. But the biggest thing I realized through all of this is that what I always do with any kind of exercise is set myself up for failure. I’m always jumping in furiously and with great gusto, employing a sort of “go big or go home” mentality that means I set out a gruelling routine for myself from the get-go that I can never stick to because it’s just too big of a lifestyle change. Then when I don’t stick to it the resulting chocolate-eating binge makes me feel even more guilty, so I just try to not think about it, even though I need to.
So here’s what I’ve resolved myself to, my best-kept exercise secret: do what I can in the morning, and if I have time and want to do some more later, do it. If I want to go for a run once every month just so I can take a selfie in my running clothes and post it on instagram and pretend I run regularly, I will! This will give me more motivation to run. And in the in-between I will eat a little chocolate, drink a little wine, and laugh a lot, because laughing is the most fun kind of exercise. Also, we will have frequent dance parties in our house, because those don’t even feel like exercise at all, even though they are. Also, I will let my children watch my home-yoga in the morning, because then they will see mommy taking care of herself, and that’s important. But they may NOT eat popcorn while they watch, because that’s just rude. And I REFUSE to hold in my farts for them. Because it’s my yoga, and I’ll fart if I want to.