Then Andrew decided two summers ago he would do the Couch to 5K program, and every morning at a ridiculously insane hour (5:30am) he'd get up and go running. He loved it. The "he is CRAZY" theme continued in my head as I smugly went along with my yoga practice.
Fast forward a few years, and I've started wondering just how much my heart rate really is increasing while practicing yoga. Sure, I sweat, build muscle mass and generally feel like I've MOVED my body for 60 to 90 minutes... but is my heart rate really up there for my practice 3x (more or less) a week for the entire time?
Heart Rate During a Yoga Class:
Let's just chat a bit more about this: out of 60 minutes of asana, at least 15-20min of that is cool down, warm up savasana or "easy on the heart rate" postures. Yes, it's likely half of the class will make me sweat and build muscle, but I can't guarantee that two or three classes a week will really cover 150 minutes (or 2.5 hours) MINIMUM aerobic activity. I just don't take three classes of 50 minute non-stop surya namaskar or vinyasa-ing one breath per posture (honestly, I have rarely taken such a class- most are well balanced...which is a good thing).
I love yoga and do not feel that this is a negative aspect of the practice. In fact, I feel like yoga adds something more. That said, it would be a mistake to blissfully equate 1:1 a minute of yoga practice to a minute of "moderate to vigorous physical activity".
I have room for both Yoga AND other physical activity in my life.
Out of curiosity, I decided to take the Heart and Stroke Risk Assessment online screener. Thankfully I only have 4 scary risk factors for Heart Disease. My risk factors are a combo of my parent's family health risk factors (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, premature stroke etc) and eating too much salt and not enough veggies in my diet. Five servings of vegetables and fruits per day so isn't happening in this house (and it should!).
According to the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology's Canadian Physical Activity Guideline (which is used by Health Canada, the Heart and Stroke Foundation and ParticipACTION);
Canadian adults should be getting at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity in a week...
(Check out their other age ranges for children, teenagers and mature adults!)
So. This weekend I bought some running sneakers, fun pink running socks and I mentally prepared myself for my first day of Couch to 5K... TODAY.
Running appeals to me intellectually because it's so minimalist. You don't need the gym, fancy equipment (although a decent pair of running sneakers are worth the money) or special clothing (my yoga clothing worked just fine). You just need running sneaks and yourself. I like that.
As un-eco as this sounds, in order to save our knees from shins splints we decided to run in the park...but if we tried to run TO the park we'd never make it there. So I will be honest and admit we drove there (boo us).
Beyond a softer landing ground for my joints, I'm hoping that three runs a week in the park will also infuse a great big dose of NATURE in our lives.
After a grand total of 8 bouts of 60 seconds of running and a whole bunch of brisk walking in the horizontal wind and spitting rain near the crash of whitecaps of the Atlantic ocean, I survived! I may have had this weird irrational urge to giggle every single time we started running (anyone else experience this?) and I may have complained once that I didn't really think I could run again ("but I have this STITCH Andrew!") but with Andrew's so excited, HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY support (he really likes running) I made it home and didn't feel like throwing up or dying. Bonus!
What I did not feel, however, was the post running high that Andrew was so obviously experiencing. Instead, my body was kinda angry, stiff and cold. It may have been the weather, but since Andrew wasn't experiencing the same thing, I think running just might take some time to grow on me.
In order to fix my physical and psychological state from running, I decided that 20 minutes of yoga was what I wanted. I was right. After moving through various postures (with some help from Rachel's Suburban Yogini post), I was back to being myself.
I'm not going to be running a marathon anytime soon, and I most certainly will pick yoga over running any day, but I'm very glad to be adding something a bit more heart rate intensive to help prevent a disease that is the leading cause of death in Canadian women (Heart and Stroke Foundation).
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