For overweight individuals exercise can seem daunting. Too much causes pain which brings need for rest and then (more than likely) loss of routine. Too little may bring self-deprecation in that they wish they could do more but can’t because they are overweight. Most people, overweight and otherwise, equate exercise with sweat drenched individuals who are moving fast and furious through their work out routine. The truth is that walking is just as beneficial, if not more so, for weight loss in overweight individuals, but it often falls into the category of “I’m not sweating, so how can this be helping?”

When I exercise I like to feel it, either in my muscles or in my sweat. However I definitely fall into the overweight category so I have to be careful about how much I do. Wanting to continue my running from before I gained all of this weight (see Weighty Wednesday: Fat Together for the how to on couple weight gain!) I have been signing up for 5Ks every 5 to 6 weeks to motivate me to step on the treadmill. This wasn’t enough though, and I sought out an exercise activity that would be more gentle on my joints and muscles and maybe offer up some inner peace as well.

After the new year turned I decided to try yoga. An expensive activity to be sure, but one which offered me the chance to become more flexible while I worked on my cardio with the running. I thought it to be an excellent balance and I was right. Going to yoga gives me a chance to clear my head and to challenge myself in ways that I couldn’t in my running routine. I’m gaining strength and balance while learning to control my self-talk and center my thoughts. It’s peaceful and difficult at the same time. I’m finding that after a month and a half of running and doing yoga, at the end of a work day I can ask my body what it needs and rely on it to tell me Yoga, Running, or Rest. I’m not lazy about exercise anymore because I have found a balance that I enjoy and makes me proud of myself in that I am constantly overcoming reasonable challenges.

I am now a huge fan of yoga, but my weight almost certainly affects my ability to practice it fully. The size of my thighs interferes with things like Child’s Pose and my butt definitely hinders my ability to complete a modified inversion with a chair (I fell onto the floor the other night!). Still, despite this continuing hindrance I am enjoying my practice. At the end of February I will more than likely be ready to re-evaluate my dieting practices and possibly rejoin Weight Watchers for the third time in an attempt to bring my body into balance like I have brought my physical activity into balance. Honestly this may be the best way to approach weight loss since all I ever hear is that people have trouble finding the time to exercise. Once you’ve found the time for that, you always have time to eat right? Do the hard stuff first and the rest will come easier.

But I digress. Yoga can be a little hippie-dippie (get ready for vegan speak and a whole talk of talk about kale, ugh) but if my local yoga studio is any indication, practicing yoga is good for children all the way up to old men and how you approach your own practice is completely up to you. I won’t be giving up hamburgers anytime soon, but I will be continuing to attempt Triangle or Pigeon’s Pose. Most studios will let people try one session for free so go and challenge yourself while finding a little slice of inner peace. You might be surprised at how much you enjoy it. I know I was.