Marc's Remarks: Yoga — not for the faint of heart

(Photo by: Tyler Brown) Marcus Jensesn, sports editor, demonstrates a yoga pose.
(Photo by: Tyler Brown) Marcus Jensen, sports editor, demonstrates a yoga pose.

I recently started the P90X fitness program. To those of you who don’t know what P90X is, it is a 90-day home fitness program that uses 12 intensive exercise routines to help you get into shape.

I purchased it a few years ago, but I finally got around to doing it. Let me tell you, it has been kicking my butt. It has a little bit of everything in it. It has core work, arms, legs and, of course, abs.

One routine that I always was a bit wary of was the Yoga X routine. From what I had seen on TV and in the movies, yoga looked like stretching in weird postures.

“How in the world will yoga help me with my fitness?” I wondered as I put the disk in for the first time.

At about Minute 20 of the hour-and-a-half exercise, I had my answer. I had just fallen out of a downward dog and was in a flop sweat, probably one of the worst (or best) sweats of my life. As I fought through another 70 minutes, I gained a high appreciation of what these “stretches” can really do for you.What may just look like stretches is also a combination of strength and balance poses.

Many routines focus on combining both strength and balance. Plank is a very popular move that has you hold your body in a straight pushup position for several seconds or even minutes. This position is one of the bases for which spring out many of the most common yoga stances that help stretch and strengthen muscles, joints and nerves.

This isn’t to say that yoga isn’t very odd. I can’t imagine why anyone would truly enjoy it. Most of the poses seem like they were discovered by accident. The names rarely seem to match the move being performed. The move “warrior one” looks like a warrior surrendering, which would seem like a very bad strategy. Or “reverse warrior,” which looks like a warrior that has just been shot. Don’t even get me started on “happy baby.” I’ll just say that I wasn’t very happy at the end of it.

As I have come to understand it, yoga is all about control of the body, mind over matter. Ancient Hindu practices of yoga were meant to cleanse both body and spirit. After sweating from seemingly every pore of my body, I definitely felt somewhat cleansed.

Yoga also clears the mind of almost anything else going on at the time. It’s hard to think about the upcoming school year when you are in a twisting position looking at your spine. I am convinced that the chanting of ohms at the end of yoga actually came from someone who had just completed the ritual, stood up and clutched their back as they yelled, “Ooohhhhmmm!” But I couldn’t find any documentation to verify that.

Now, yoga theoretically isn’t supposed to be painful. Uncomfortable for sure, but not painful. Keep in mind that some of the pain is actually the lactic acid in your muscles being forced out. If you do yoga right, it also has many benefits. Yoga has been shown to help with flexibility, balance, stress and blood circulation. It has also been shown to benefit breathing and lung capacity.

I, for one, have seen these benefits firsthand in just the few short weeks I’ve been doing yoga. What started out as me seated only being able to touch my shin has changed into me able to almost grab the bottom of my feet. My stamina in the exercise has greatly increased. While I don’t particularly look forward to Thursday, the day of the week that yoga falls in the routine, I am excited to see what future improvements I will have.

I encourage all you people out there who have never tried yoga to give it a shot. It is definitely not the old-lady routine that I had it pegged to be before I started it. As P90X founder Tony Horton would say, “Doing yoga will help you in all areas of your physical fitness.” The benefits await those who are ready to take this challenge. They offer yoga classes on campus and many other places in the community. Find the routine that is right for you. Namaste, everybody.