Updated: Feb 16
Carrying out a physical activity that raises your heart rate, eating healthily and getting enough sleep should give you a certain level of physical fitness.
Higher levels of fitness are specific to the activities that a person carries out. You can be fit to carry out one particular task, that doesn't mean you are fit to carry out every task.
Just like physical exercise, reaching and maintaining a mental state of well-being can take work if it isn't your natural state.
Mental illness aside, gaining a calm and contented mind can come from engaging in your preferred form of physical exercise, whether it be going to the gym, going for a run or climbing a mountain.
Fitness is fleeting, it has to be maintained or you will lose it eventually. And it's that maintenance, over a lifetime, that I am finding tedious.
Just lately I've had a love-hate relationship with physical exercise. I only want to be doing epic things, not huffing and puffing in a gym or on a monotonous run. This is new to me, I have always enjoyed gym classes, martial arts and going for the odd run.
Whilst saving up for my next adventure I tend to go into a physical and mental lock-down state. There's no logical reason for this lock-down, going for a run or exercising at home doesn't cost anything. It's a cycle of doom; I don't exercise so my mental wellness suffers, my motivation drops, so I don't exercise. And so it goes on.
I lack the gene that makes people want to be better than other people at, what I consider, a leisure activity. So that doesn't motivate me. I've no interest whatsoever in competing in anything, my leisure activities are for savouring the moment only. Anyone that has worked with me will be saying 'She's such a liar, she always wants to be the best at work' but let me tell you, that's not true, I just wanted to do a really good job for my own satisfaction, I was never competing with you!
Bearing in mind that health and fitness are closely linked, I try to maintain a modicum of 'fitness' during my lock-down periods. This ticking-over of a general fitness has allowed me to do 'nothing' for 6 to 8 months, then go on an epic adventure, without injury (excluding falls!) or aching muscles. Whether that is real 'fitness', I don't know, but it's my best effort at the moment and it works for me.
We can eat the healthiest of meals and consistently engage in physical activities, yet still get ill. Chemical and radioactive pollution, genetics, accidents, germs can all lead to disease or injury and stop your hard-earned fitness dead in its tracks. So I don't let it rule my time on this planet, in this one life we get.
Don't get me wrong, I wish I could find the motivation I used to have, and I will continue to search for it, within the bounds of not letting it stress me. I used to spend a lot of time stressing if I couldn't get to the gym. It then stops being fun.
Yoga. Oh and a plant based diet!
Yoga, to the uninitiated has a bad reputation; it's for hippies, weirdos, the very flexible and the spiritual. And granted it can be, but not exclusively, it's for 'normal' people too!
When I practice yoga I take it easy, and often my poses look nothing like the teaching yogi's pose. It's not a competition and there's no need to make it painful or feel inadequate. I'm not very flexible and have the balance of an egg!
There is a wide range of benefits I get from engaging in yoga:
It raises my heart rate
It keeps my joints supple
It helps with my balance when cycling
It helps with bone and muscle strength
It heals aches and pains
It increases my energy levels
It improves my mood and mental state
It improves my circulation
It helps drain toxins
It clears my lungs and sinuses
It helps with facial and neck tone
It makes me feel 2 inches taller!
It helps me sleep
For me, yoga improves my mental and physical wellness, and it's what keeps my fitness ticking over until I'm off on an epic.
I've practiced yoga on and off, for around 20 years. I used to attend classes but nowadays I practice at home. I do this for three reasons: 1) Cost, 2) It can be difficult to find the right class and 3) I can do it everyday, when I want
There are many genres of yoga, you can Google them if you are really interested! I engage in very simple routines that work for me, mixing and matching what I can do and sitting-out what I can't.
For my everyday yoga sessions, I will alternate my two favourite sessions on Yogi Ashokananda's DVD named Power Yoga & Kriya Yoga Anti-Aging
Unfortunately you can't download his teachings as an MP4 from his website, although there are some options on Amazon Prime. The DVD is around £10. Both me and my daughter have a copy, so I can practice home and away!
The two sessions I regularly practice are the Strengthening session and the Kriya Yoga anti-aging session. I also do the Power within now and again, but it is more advanced than I am!
When I want to go to sleep I'll run through his Savasana routine!
Yogi Ashokanada does have a YouTube channel I sometimes follow his Beginners session
YouTube - Yoga with Adriene
Occasionally I'll do some of Adriene's sessions. She has a yoga session for everything, from skateboarders to insomniacs.
My go-to is her Beginners class
When I have a specific ailment or injury I will reference Adriene's catalogue and practice the specific routine.
So that's it folks, it's my best effort at the moment! I try to do at least 10 minutes everyday. If you're feeling lethargic and stressing over not getting to the gym, give it a go, it's as hard as you make it! And it can transform your life.