Yoga and Hiking: How Do I Make Exercises Fun and Exciting

by Crystal

July 20, 2019

“Working out sucks! There has to be something else that is both effective and FUN, right?” I understand how hard it is to persist on repetitive sets of boring exercises to keep in shape, especially when we are constantly busy and there just seems to be a lack of motivating peers around.

I overcame this by first trying out and looking for the activities that I am most passionate about. Then, to make it even more exciting, I challenge myself, for instance, to do certain complicated poses in yoga as well as to conquer my acrophobia via hiking.

1. Playing with Yoga

It’s important to first clear up the many misconceptions about yoga. The 4 most common ones I have heard are:

“Yoga is expensive.”

Four years ago, I started yoga because I hated how my body looked. So, I started doing yoga for free by self-learning via watching videos on YouTube and Instagram. I followed exactly what the instructors were doing on the screen. Unfortunately, I didn’t know how to balance my body the right way, leading to muscle imbalance on my waists. Fortunately, I realised it and corrected my posture immediately. From this, I learnt that it’s important to know the basic precautions beforehand. One disadvantage of self-learning is that you don’t know where to start and overlook the fundamental precautions. It is important to bear in mind the following:

  • Playing it with an optimum physical edge

    This is about challenging yourself to stretch a little higher, press a little lower, stay in a pose a little longer, BUT also listening to your body so as not to strain yourself!

  • Get a sticky yoga mat

    This prevents you from slipping and hurting yourself on a fall. It doesn’t have to be expensive.

  • Get a yoga block and belt (Optional)

    These provide support and help you get into poses (I have neither. You could find substitutes like the wall, pillows, towels or the hula hoops)

  • Observe and apply breathing techniques with engaged muscles

    Breathing deeply improves blood circulation which removes stiffness and improves flexibility of the muscles. In turn, it helps avoid injury when getting into a pose as well as making you feel refreshed. Remember to engage your arm, core and leg muscles while in a pose!

  • Find someone to spot you (Suggested)

    When you do a back bend, headstand or so on, you may need someone to support and hold your waist and legs steady. It’s also important to get feedbacks on whether your posture is correct.

“It requires flexibility and mine is close to nonexistent.”

You don’t necessarily need flexibility to start yoga, but if you don’t start somewhere, where will the flexibility come from? Yoga helps you become more flexible in addition to improving your balance and strength. Killing three birds with one stone.

“It’s all about meditation, right?”

Just partly. Yoga is more than just sitting still with a quiet mind. The passages above are prove enough. Customarily, yoga meditation is done before or after a yoga flow by focusing in the moment and spreading your awareness to the tips of your fingers and toes, preventing stray thoughts. Personally, I do it throughout my yoga flow by focusing on my movements, breathing and muscle engagement. That said, the initial reason that I started yoga was to shape my body. Along the way, however, I came to love it because of the physical and mental health benefits that it brings- better circulation, balance, strength, reflex, sleep and stress relieve. I love how versatile it can be.

“I’m too old for this.”

Kazim Burguz and Bette Calman will prove you wrong. Both yogis are 90 and above. For beginners, it’s encouraged to start slow to familiarise your body with the movements. Then, you could easily adjust to your own comfortable pace of flow later on.

2. Hiking with Lara Croft, Indiana Jones (or Dora?)

I’ve always loved the idea of hiking but didn’t really started out until last year with my colleague. I am an acrophobic, to be exact, it’s more of the fear of falling rather than of heights. Unfortunately for me, hiking is sure to involve uneven grounds, leading to tripping and slipping. I am always ‘too careful’ when hiking which is really exhausting, but I love the adventure and health benefits it brings- lower body fat and cholesterol besides enhanced mood and mental well-being.

I remember going on a 2.5 hour intermediate hike for my first hike. It took me 4 hours to complete the entire journey, leaving me with a sore body for the next 4 days. This lesson reminds me, once again, to always start small and prepare well:

  • Start small

    Hiking is different from your typical jog on the streets. It is far more exhausting and time consuming with its changes on the elevation and ground traction. For beginners, choose a trail that is often used which has a shorter distance than you can usually walk on level ground. Then, review the routes via maps or hikers’ blogs to prevent losing your way. Now, you can start to accustom your body with this basic hike. As you may get lost even with a map, you are encourage to tag along with other hikers or invite your friends to join.

  • Check weather forecast

    Google for the weather of your hiking location several hours before to know the essentials to bring or whether you should continue with the plan. If a rainstorm is coming, there’ll be danger of lightning strike and rushing waters. This is not suggested for beginners.

  • Pack smart

    If it’s a really short hike, you could just pack a map, compass and water. Add a flashlight to hike in the dark. For overnight, add in extra clothing, fire, food, first aid, and a tent. Keep it light.

  • Wear suitable footwear and attire

    Shoes and socks are the most important in a hike. Pick a good lightweight and comfortable hiking shoes or boots and complete them with wool socks. Once this is taken care of, consider your clothing. If the location is cold, wear long sleeves and pants, maybe add an extra layer of windbreaker. If it’s warm, don a T-shirt and shorts. Everything should be wool or synthetic, and lightweight. No cotton! It’s heavier as it absorbs sweat besides making you cold and soggy.

What’s more? Hiking is more than merely trudging from the starting point to the top. Imagine yourself hiking with Lara Croft or Indiana Jones. Pretty cool, right? Of course, I’m not asking you to go to the extreme. It could be ‘treasure’ hunting, tracking, camping, waterfall bathing, or if you want something riskier- paragliding or high-lining (get a professional). Pick a suitable location to start your grand adventure and remember to be fully prepared!

In a Nutshell…

The key to keep ourselves persistently motivated to stay fit by exercising is to have a ‘right’ perspective in viewing every circumstance. With this, we’ll be able to transform something from boring to exciting. This, in turn, changes both our actions and reactions towards different situations, surprisingly leading us to live a life with way more fun. Furthermore, it is important to challenge yourself. This is the power of novelty; the anticipation to experience something new that drives us to do it.

Ask yourself, what are the activities that you desire to do but have been putting off for months (Where’s that bucket list?). Pick one activity from that list to challenge yourself each month. I am looking forward to try out diving and intermediate rock climbing myself. So let’s do this together!

Crystal

By Crystal

A dreamer and self-taught designer. Crystal is a BA (Hons) Business Management graduate who is into content marketing, graphic design and web design.

Read more at crystalkoo.com

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