Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Rockstars of Yoga

This entry was written by Randi Rentz. Randi is an individual fundraiser for Yoga on the Steps:

If you remember theY2K Revolution and fear of your computer exploding when we made it to the year, 2000, you probably remember the sudden increase in the new yoga craze, too. The yoga revolution isn’t like the '50s, where you might remember those machines where you flung a big strap around your butt, flipped a switch and jiggled away all your self-esteem. Guess what? The new century brought us a hip way to get fit that is thousands of years old. In fact, yoga is such the rage, it’s been sexified with tres chic language. Who knew that I would need a yoga dictionary to decipher words such as Bikram, Chaka and Vinyasa. I thought I was reading first names of new” rock stars,” like Cher and Madonna, not practices for purifying the soul.

Aiming to tone, firm and beautify your body, mind and soul, the so-called power of yoga workouts are knocking kickboxing out of the ring. Tired, old aerobic routines just don't measure up. (Seriously, have you ever seen Gisele Bundchen at LA Fitness?)

Celebs like Sheryl Crow, Jennifer Anniston and Jenny McCarthy have all given the yoga workout their star-studded seal of approval.

But do they work for regular people; especially people who have had breast cancer? You know, the moderately chunky (from steroids, chemo or Tamoxifen), 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60—somethings? Unable to find my groove at the gym, I was in search of something new, something to lift my spirits. I thought I would rather be waterboarded than do another spin class or the elliptical machine for 45 minutes, yet again.

I decided to live like a celebrity and try out yoga for a month to see if it did anything for me.

Luckily, I live in Philadelphia, so I didn't have to look far to find a studio that suited my needs. The one I chose was just a hop-skip from my house, so I couldn't wait to get my “stretch on” and spiritually moving. I met with “Raj,” the owner, and he walked me through the process, explaining the benefits of this type of ancient workout regime.

According to Raj, yoga goes well beyond toning and firming muscle. It also has been shown to:
• improve bone density

• accelerate weight loss

• reduce cellulite

• improve blood circulation

• decrease physical and emotional stress

• improve balance, equilibrium and dexterity

He had me at "reduces cellulite." I went to a sporting goods store to purchase my first yoga mat and water bottle. While I was at it, I purchased cute yoga outfits, too. Always a thrilling task.

Then I got a free personal training session which is a perk for any new yoga-want-to be at this studio. My trainer told me he would create a routine for me that would intrinsically help me relieve stress and worry, while at the same time learning to live in the moment, which is a major benefit for cancer patients -- and I was off. Yoga literally rocked my world. My whole body quivered and shook, and I swear I grew an inch. My lymphatic circulation was improving by the minute, as well as the continuous pain in my surgical area.

But I was determined to do more, where I squatted, lunged, pliƩ'd, push-upped and planked my way into a major sweat.

This is why Jennifer Aniston's arms are so amazing. It was one tough workout!

After 30 days, I'm stronger, relaxed and mentally acute. But while I'm not Jennifer Anniston by a long stretch, I worked out like her for a month and feel much closer to her than I ever did before.

My conclusion about yoga is this: It's fun, it's easy, and it's up to you to decide how hard you want to make it. The best part is that I wasn't stuck doing it at some clanky meat-market gym. Serenity awaited me every time I walked through the studio.

So, if you want to exercise like Jennifer (and me), give yoga a try. And if you happen to live in Philadelphia, you could always do it at my studio. Just ask for Raj. Tell him Randi sent you.

It's not too late to make a donation for Yoga on the Steps! Our fundraising goal is $250,000. Will you help us reach our goal? We're 75 percent to our goal!


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