Mat vs. Machine

matvsmachine

One major advantage of living in New York is having so many choices. As it’s usually beneficial to have options, sometimes it’s more difficult to make a decision. The same now goes for something as simple as working out. There are endless workouts available to the aspiring hot bod. How do you possibly choose between SoulCycle, Physique 57, CrossFit, SLT, Barry’s Bootcamp, Flywheel, Pure Barre, etc.? It’s not easy to parse through all those fancy machines and apparatuses.

Last year, I found myself in this exact predicament. I wasn’t working and was looking for an exercise routine. After much experimentation, I decided to revisit the machineless yoga. I’ve dabbled in Vinyasa Flow before, but never fully committed. Something about it appealed to me, given where I was personally and professionally in my life. I had recently gone through some major changes and wanted to get more in touch with myself and my passions, while decreasing stress.

In yoga, your mind and body are the machines, providing the resistance. For the mind, the goal is to be totally present and push all external thoughts away. Focus on your breath and your intention for the class. That’s it. Don’t think about your date last night or your work presentation tomorrow. This process of calming the mind takes some serious practice. For the body, holding uncomfortable poses, or “asanas”, for five full breaths is the goal. Crow pose for example, which consists of balancing your body weight on your arms while your knees rest on the back of your upper arms, can challenge any athlete. Many yoga poses require this intense combination of balance and strength.

Yoga influenced me so much that I soon canceled my gym membership. I just didn’t need the pace of the elliptical or treadmill during this phase of my life. As I was going through a transformation and looking to develop a better mind/body connection, my time on the mat was a productive workout for me. Mentally I felt calmer and physically I felt stronger. I was connected and in balance.

It can be overwhelming trying to find the right workout in this fitness bubble. Choosing an exercise routine that suits where you are in life is a good strategy. If you’re looking to get pumped up for something, SoulCycle, Barry’s Bootcamp or CrossFit are good options. If you need to refocus and center yourself, yoga is a great choice.

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