Guest Column: Finding a variety in your fitness is the spice of life

Published 10:38 am Friday, November 25, 2016

Health & Fitness by Judy Jensen

Here in southern Minnesota we have moved past our transition to autumn and are heading straight on into winter. We’ve noticed colder temperatures, more darkness and — with that — decreased amounts of our daily dose of sunshine, possibly the natural urge to move into hibernation mode, a turning inward. The changing of the seasons can be an opportune time to evaluate your current fitness practices, or lack thereof.

Often times we can tend to get bogged down into routine and the daily grind. Similarly, our fitness practices can begin to feel stale, boring and uninspired. Trying something new when it comes to fitness can be like a breath of fresh air. Having variety in our fitness activities can help to keep us motivated, balanced and committed. As colder weather approaches, the outdoor activities we enjoyed all summer might begin to be more difficult to incorporate. The idea of going for a walk or run outside can be less enticing when we have to take extra time to bundle up with special gear. You may find yourself looking for some new options in the fitness aspect of your life.

Judy Jensen

Judy Jensen

The practice of yoga can offer an abundance of physical benefits and beyond. Yoga itself can be found in many different styles and varieties. There are active, physically demanding styles that build strength, improve balance and increase flexibility while practitioners find themselves in the middle of a puddle of sweat. Other practices are more passive, focusing on deep stretching, and are meant to be a helpful balance to other forms of exercise such as running, biking and swimming. Yet another style is simply about resting the body, which is as equally important as exercising and moving the body.

To include even more variety into your fitness repertoire, there are fitness classes that complement your yoga practice. Classes like Pilates, barre yoga and many others target specific areas of the body where muscles are fatigued and then stretched. Weight-bearing components are incorporated into these classes that can benefit bone health, which is so important.

Finding new fitness options can be fun with a friend. It can be a bit intimidating trying something new or going to a fitness center or yoga studio for the first time.  In yoga we might hear a teacher say we should, “stay on our own mat,” which means our focus should remain within. What everyone around us is doing isn’t important. and there is no place for competition in a yoga class. Although yoga can be practiced individually at home, checking out a new class with a friend is a great way to explore the vast array of options available to us. Everything is more fun when done with a good friend, right?

When trying something new, an open mind and a lighthearted attitude is a sure way to find enjoyment in it. You may discover a new passion as you explore the varieties of ways to keep fitness a part of your life or bring it into your life. Determine your goal and what it is you are seeking and take the opportunity to discover yoga this fall.

Judy Jensen is a registered yoga teacher and the owner of Essence of Yoga in downtown Albert Lea. She has taught yoga for about three years and has practiced since her 20s.