I've been using my ClassPass membership as a way of taking a yoga tour of each of the cities I visit, and since landing in Austin, I've taken a new class almost every single day. If you're not familiar with ClassPass, it's an app that gives you access to yoga/Pilates/barre/etc. studios, usually in metropolitan cities that are have boutique studios on every corner, for a monthly membership fee. You can opt into ClassPass Flex if you want access to all cities, which has been perfect for my trip.
I can get borderline preachy about how yoga changed my life, but that's because it really did. I started practicing regularly about a year and a half ago, after injuring myself while training for Ironman CDA and being forced to quit running cold-turkey for 4 months. Completing an Ironman was a bucket list-type of thing for me and I'm really happy that I did it, but the 6 months of training for it really jacked up my body. I was visiting the chiropractor regularly throughout my training, who explained that even a slight misalignment in the body has a huge impact when you magnify your training to an extreme of running 20 miles on a Saturday and following with a 100-mile bike ride on a Sunday. Running had become such a regular part of my life that I couldn't imagine stopping after the race, but everything on the left side of my body was basically broken, and eventually I had to admit that it wasn't going to get better until I gave it time to heal.
I used to think of yoga as a throw-away workout, or something you do in between your real workouts, but I started going every day instead of running. I didn't start practicing yoga to lose weight, so I was surprised when I lost the 15 pounds I'd gained training for my Ironman. I felt healthier all around and I also started to notice that I felt a lot happier throughout my day. I found a 2-hour ashtanga practice at Yoga on Yamhill in downtown Portland that I started going to on Sunday nights and it really helped me reset before a crazy week of work. A moment I remember distinctly in the beginning of me turning into a yogi-brain was laying in savasana after class one day and hearing the teacher explain how the calm, happy feeling we were all experiencing would begin to seep into our tissues with a regular practice, and eventually we'd begin to experience it off the mat as well. Sounds like a complete hippie thing, but he was totally right about that.
The idea of being proactive about health rather than reactive is something that I think the world of Eastern medicine has figured out much better than the West [thanks to my Asian friend, Vinny, who first pointed this out to me]. When I started going to acupuncture a few years back, my acupuncturist, Val, and I were talking about how it had made such a difference in boosting my immune system so that I wasn't getting sick all the time anymore. My dad was a general practitioner, so my sibling and I had antibiotics available at the first sign of getting sick when we were growing up. Val pointed out that while my dad obviously had the best intentions in keeping us healthy, what it actually was doing was weakening our immune systems so that as adults, we could hardly handle any exposure to germs without getting sick.
As I get older and fully become aware of how valuable your health is, I've made more of an effort to make it a priority. It's funny how sometimes it can feel self-indulgent to take care of yourself, even though your health is one of the most important things you have. Part of what I've tried to do with this trip is take the time to be healthy, including practicing yoga daily, drinking more water, getting lots of sleep, reducing stress levels, and eating my greens. You could roll your eyes and think 'must be nice', but I'll be the one laughing when I live to be 120 [joking].