Taking my exercise back to basics for some R&R

The great yoga experiment begins…


This is it. I’ve given in. Years after first trying yoga and finding I didn’t like it, I have downloaded a yoga app.

My body is currently very unhappy with me (fatigue, pain, migraines), and there’s no chance of me being able to do intense exercise at the moment. No running, no exercise bike, no kettlebells. Instead of having an ‘oh sh*t I’m going to lose all my fitness again’ meltdown, I’m giving in to it. My body needs rest. But from past experience I know that my body also needs exercise to be able to recover well.

After two days stuck in bed with a migraine last week, I knew that I needed to exercise to get rid of my aches and pains. I took my border collie pal for a short walk on Friday afternoon, which helped to stretch out my legs, but the rest of me still ached.

In the past, Pilates was what did the trick for me when I couldn’t do anything too intense. Reformer Pilates is one of my favourite things. Strengthening, stretching, and taking half an hour or so to just focus on the movement of my body is so peaceful. But with no space in the house to lay out my reformer, let alone alone flail my arms and legs around, I haven’t done it in a long time.
Wait, did I say ‘flail’? I meant ‘make smooth and controlled motions’…

Anyway. I’m not a big fan of mat-based Pilates, but I needed to do something, so I decided to give it a go again. Typically, with my house being mid-renovation, I couldn’t find the one non-reformer Pilates DVD I own, nor the Pilates for Dummies book I snagged years ago from my library’s discarded books shelf. I made space in the living room and found some Pilates videos on YouTube.

I dismissed quite a lot based on their titles (cardio Pilates? No thanks, not what I’m after) and stopped a few after finding the instructor’s voice annoying.

I finally settled on a Fitness Blender video. I liked that they had a man demonstrating the moves (I don’t think I’d ever seen a Pilates video with a man in before) and the voiceover was pleasant to listen to.
Unfortunately, the workout didn’t do it for me. I abandoned it halfway through, bored to tears. I found another on the same channel, but found that again, I was bored.
The moves were challenging, but I just couldn’t get interested. I find reformer Pilates soothing, but this was just dull and frustrating.

So this is it. I’ve given in. Years after first trying yoga and finding I didn’t like it, I have downloaded a yoga app.

Image credit: fitstar.com

Out of sheer desperation to find something that would give me a good stretch and a bit of ‘me time’, I downloaded the FitStar Yoga app. I’ve used the FitStar Personal Trainer app on and off for a year or so, and I really enjoy the strength/cardio sessions. Knowing the yoga app would be set up in a similar way, I decided to try it. No lovely Tony Gonzalez offering encouragement this time; the yoga app has Tara Stiles guiding you through the sessions.

I started (sensibly enough) with the introductory session, which is about 18 minutes long and designed to give the user a taste of what the workouts are like.

I did struggle at first to see what I was supposed to be doing for each pose. I’m not the most co-ordinated person, so figuring out where my arms and legs were supposed to go to get into some positions wasn’t particularly easy.
I’m also hideously inflexible. For someone who used to do Pilates five days a week and could do the splits, this is slightly embarrassing. It meant that I couldn’t flow from one pose to the next and had to figure out my own ways of getting into them.

Some poses were just not going to happen. I lacked the flexibility for some, and the strength and balance for others.

I like that the app gives the option to mark a pose as ‘too hard’ (you can also mark them as ‘too easy’ or ‘just right’) during the workout, and also asks you to rate them at the end. This means that the next workout will be more tailored to your level of fitness and flexibility.
Out of 44 poses, I marked 10 as being too difficult and one as too easy.

Savasana is pretty nice, though!

I really surprised myself by sort of enjoying the session. Only ‘sort of’ because the first half of it was where all my ‘too hard’ ratings came in. Once it moved on to poses I could do, I started to like it more. I also liked that there wasn’t a focus on the spiritual/meditation side. I think that’s one of the things that has put me off yoga so much over the years.

I decided to stick with it. Since Friday I’ve done 2 more sessions from my free plan. Sunday was ‘hips and core’, Monday was ‘twists and psoas’. I had a sneaky look at the poses included before I started, and watched the demonstrations, so I felt better prepared for these two sessions than I was for the intro.

Do I feel better for it? I can’t tell yet. I’m somewhat concerned that my average heart rate during the sessions seems to be quite high. I seem to have fewer aches and pains, although some are persisting. I’m hoping that if I keep going it will help with my aches, and improve my strength and flexibility. I also hope that once I don’t have to try so hard just to get into the poses, yoga might help to relieve some of my stress.

Stay tuned to find out how this yoga experiment goes…

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I should say that this post is in no way affiliated with or sponsored by FitStar. I know how difficult it can be to wade through the volume of YouTube videos and mobile apps to find a workout you enjoy, so I just wanted to share my experience of using the FitStar Yoga app. All opinions are entirely my own.