yoga as exercise or alternative medicine

I am now in the fourth week of the P90X workout, which is the “rest” week.  The theory is that you go hard with the resistance training for three weeks, then in week number four you do no resistance training.  Instead you concentrate on cardio and stretching, so you are doing Yoga, Core Synergistics and Kenpo.

Today I did my fourth Yoga X workout since starting, and I now have a new favorite phrase: “Last Vinyasa”.

A Vinyasa is a series of poses in yoga.  In P90X it’s part of the Sun Salutation sequence: plank, chaturanga, downward dog, upward dog.

After the warm up in Yoga X you spend about half an hour doing variations of this sequence.  The first few are easy; the last few are killers, so when they flash on the screen that you are doing the Last Vinyasa, it’s a happy time!

Unfortunately even though you are 45 minutes in to the workout there are still 45 more minutes to go when you do your last vinyasa, but that’s fine.  The final half of the workout is balance poses and stretching, so although it’s hard it’s not as intense as the first half.

Of all the workouts I still find Yoga X to be the most difficult, and the most draining.  I am always most exhausted after the Yoga X workout (which hopefully means it’s working).

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I’m on Day #11 of P90X, so for me today was my second attempt at the Yoga X workout.  (You can read my wife’s thoughts on the P90X Yoga routine; she found it boring).My first run through was on Day 4, the first time I did the Yoga routine.  The first time I found the first 20 minutes very difficult.

Today I found it somewhat easier, presumably because my flexibility as improved marginally.  I was also more familiar with the moves, so I knew what was coming next, so I wasn’t constantly stopping to watch the screen.

But that, unfortunately, is also the problem with this routine.  For the first 45 minutes of this 90 minute workout you are doing the same moves over and over, with slight variations each time.  You start with move #1, then you repeat #1 and add #2, then it’s #1, #2, and #3, then #1, #2, #3 and #4, and so on.  By the end of the first 45 minutes you are quite sick of the “downward dog” and the “plank” and some of the other moves you have now done dozens of times.

I will admit that the first 45 minutes are difficult, and your heart rate will be pumping if you move at a good pace.  But it is still somewhat boring.

The second half of the workout is primarily balance poses and more stretching.  I’m no exercise expert, so I have no idea how important it is for general fitness to practice balancing, but I’m not sure that 45 minutes of balancing and stretching is necessary.

I think this would be a decent one hour workout, instead of a stretched out 90 minute routine.  So, that’s what I did.  I made it a one hour workout.

The beauty of a DVD is you can hit fast forward whenever you want, and on my DVD the fast forward button takes you to the start of the next exercise.  Perfect.  So when I’m bored with something, I hit fast forward, and go on the next one.

That’s also useful for some of the moves that I just can’t do.  Unfortunately I am not flexible enough to put one hand on the floor, twist, and put the other hand straight up in the sky.  Over time I assume I’ll improve, but I’m not there yet.

So, going forward, I’ll give the yoga another shot, but it will be for an hour, not longer, making use of the fast forward button.

Lest you think this review is all negative, I will make one positive comment: I did notice increased flexibility from the first run through last week.  In some of the exercises where I could only stretch a certain distance, today I was able to go a bit farther, so the incremental progress is encouraging.

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