This post appears as part of our Healthier 2021 series, in which we follow three WebMD team members as they strive to improve their health this year. You can follow their journeys here.
By Mark Spoor
If you've been following me during my fitness journey, you know all about my struggles with flexibility. It's a battle I've been fighting for years. One of the reasons that I chose to do this series of blogs in the first place is that it would really force me to step up my flexibility efforts.
To that end, I've been diligent about adding short stretching classes to my workouts on my Peloton app, both at the beginning and the end. I've also tried very hard to get up from my desk from time to time during the workday. This is something I've always tried to do, but since I've started this blog, I'm now doing it without grabbing food on my way back to my desk. #Progress
While I have seen gains -- like almost being able to touch my toes without bending my knees -- I felt like I needed to do more. So I ventured into yoga.
This actually marks the second time I've tried yoga. A gym I used to belong to offered an introductory class on a Saturday morning. Heading into that experience -- which was close to 10 years ago -- I thought to myself that it'd be a nice, relaxing hour. After all, everyone I knew then who did yoga seemed pretty relaxed, and the little I knew about yoga was that it was some stretching and some gentle moving from one pose to another.
I honestly thought it'd be a nice break from the boot camp-type workouts that I'd been doing for a few months before the class.
Break, huh? Not so much there, Sparky.
I can honestly tell you that I poured more sweat during that hour than I had during months of other workouts. In fact, it was while I was in that class that I first learned that I had an issue with flexibility. In a move of cowardice that I still regret, I ran back to relative security of deadlifts, box jumps, and kettlebell swings. This, of course, did absolutely nothing for my flexibility.
So this time around, I came at yoga with a lot more respect -- and a healthy dose of caution.
Like a true newb, as I was scrolling through the yoga section of the app, I looked for a class name that sounded like it wouldn't break me. I landed on "Sun Salutation A." As it turns out, that was a pretty good place to start. The moves were relatively gentle, but they weren't easy. There were plank-type moves. There were stretches. There were downward dogs. There were noises.
Yeah, there were some pretty loud cracks and pops coming from me as I took the class. I actually started to sound a bit like Rice Krispies when you first pour the milk on them. While it felt like just a really good adjustment from a chiropractor, all the noise did concern me a bit. So I reached out to my friend Beth.
Beth's a member of our team here at WebMD and she also teaches yoga. If something was up, she'd let me know. Beth instantly put me at ease -- and made me laugh.
"We can uncover all kinds of crazy body responses in yoga," she wrote back. "Well done!"
By the way, "Crazy Body Responses" should be some garage band's name. Your move, America!
Anyway, the next day, I tried some more yoga, and a little more the day after that. Trust me, I'm nowhere near comfortable with it yet, and I'm sure I look a lot like a fish out of Laura's water bottle while I'm doing it (a nod to her recent post about hydration). But I know it's doing what I need it to do for me. And since I can do it alone, it doesn't matter what I look like. What's more, it gives me another thing to do on workout days, so bring it on.
Oh, one more thing. A shout-out to my fellow Healthier 2021 blogger, Bill, who gave us some insight (and inspiration) this week about getting over the hurdle of comparison: You got this, buddy!
Mark Spoor is a senior health editor with WebMD. He spent more than 2 decades in sports media, working with groups like the NCAA, NASCAR, and the PGA TOUR. Most weekends, you can find him and his wife, Chris, cheering on their daughter's softball team.
While Mark has spent a lot of time with athletes, he's not one, so fitness has always been a bit of a challenge. He hopes this endeavor will help him get a little closer to winning that battle.
You can follow Mark on Twitter @markspoor.