Fitness Magazine

Fast Exercise Vs. Slow Yoga

By Ninazolotow @Yoga4HealthyAge
by Nina 

Fast Exercise vs. Slow Yoga

Image "Borrowed" from The New York Times

The exercises should be performed in rapid succession, allowing 30 seconds for each, while, throughout, the intensity hovers at about an 8 on a discomfort scale of 1 to 10, Mr. Jordan says. Those seven minutes should be, in a word, unpleasant. The upside is, after seven minutes, you’re done. —New York Times
Did anyone else happen to see the recent New York Times seven-minute exercise routine? Well, I did. And my first response was irritation. Something seemed so wrong to me about the routine. At first, I thought it was the seven minutes part. That seemed to me a crazy amount of time for doing twelve exercises, and I thought it would be healthier and more effective to divide up the routine into, say, three or four different routines, and cycle between them on different days. That way, you could spend more time on each exercise and not do the same thing every day (which could lead to boredom or even injury).
But even after I had my private little rant about the subject, every time I saw that picture I continued to feel irritated; it was like a grain of sand in the soft belly of an oyster (not that this rant is going to turn out to be pearl, mind you). But it wasn’t until a few days later that I realized what was really bothering me: it was the phrase “seven minutes of steady discomfort.”
“In 12 exercises deploying only body weight, a chair and a wall, it fulfills the latest mandates for high-intensity effort, which essentially combines a long run and a visit to the weight room into about seven minutes of steady discomfort — all of it based on science.” — Gretchen Reynolds
It seems to me if exercise is something so unpleasant that you do just to get it over with, you’re never going to be able to incorporate it into your life on a regular basis, something people in our exercise-averse culture desperately need to do. I mean, why would you want to add seven unpleasant minutes to your life every day? I can’t help but feel that half an hour of enjoyable exercise has got to be better for you than seven minutes of “steady discomfort.” It’s kind of like the difference between fast food and slow food. For me, yoga asana practice is truly an enjoyable, sensual experience, where I'm present in my body and appreciating what it can do and how it feels. Why would I ever want to trade that for fast, efficient, and unpleasant? (Actually the phrase “all of it based on science” irritated me a bit, too. I’ve had food concocted by nutrition scientists and food made by with love by friends and family members, and, of course, no contest there.)
Granted, sometimes it’s a bit hard for me to get started with my yoga practice—there’s a certain mental inertia that makes me reluctant to switch to that activity—but once I begin, I almost always enjoy myself. Of course, there are moments of unpleasantness (the mild painfulness of a stretch, the frustration of falling out of a balance pose, the feeling of mild fatigue after holding a strenuous pose for an extended period of time), but these are interspersed with moments of pleasure and even joyfulness. (I’m thinking now of a fellow student in my weekly class, who, when we do her favorite pose, now always says to me with a twinkle in her eye, “Oh, boy!”) Then, there’s the huge bonus that a mindful asana practice confers in addition to strength, flexibility, balance, and agility: stress reduction.
Maybe I’m preaching to the choir here, but for our physical and emotional health (not to mention healthy aging), we each need to find a form of exercise that is a life-affirming experience rather than a form of torture that we must submit to. And it’s worth the extra time, even just, say, 20 minutes rather than 7, to make that kind of practice a part of your life. Of course, I love yoga, so I’m always here singing its praises. But if you hate every minute of the yoga you’re currently practicing, try some different styles. And if you hate all the styles, maybe it’s not for you. Walk, run, cycle, swim, work out in a gym, dance, play golf, tennis, basketball or soccer, ski—get out there and live!

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