the Yin and Yang of Being, BodyBuilding and Practicing Yoga

Selfie 2013

Actions Speak Louder than Words, Selfie, BodyBuilding 2013

The Yin and Yang of Being, BodyBuilding and Practicing Yoga? Uhhhh, can you, should you?

For me it’s no longer an ‘either or’ debate. Often we feel as if we are forced to choose between parts of ourselves and told we cant do one over  the other, some of us  are stuck with a role that others have chosen for us  based on our past or dominant characteristics and behaviors, but is that who we truly are? —————————–

The idea was to reduce my risk of injury and joint problems by having functionally mobile joints. For me, the restricting factor was my muscles being shortened from the constant repetitive short range of motion and single-plane of motion lifts typical in bodybuilding training (bench press, shoulder press, squats, deadlifts, etc.).

As a result of this explorative journey into trying yoga, my body opened up and I reduced a lot of the stiffness I felt in my joints from the repetitive motions common in bodybuilding. Yoga was not only great for stretching and restoring my range of motion, but it was also great for stress relief and mental relaxation.  From Enhancing Bodybuilding with Yoga 

—————————– Aren’t we in constant change and flux? The truth is we are, Energy. Energy is in constant movement. At this very moment whether you are sitting or sleeping the Earth herself is orbiting our vast space and at the equator 25,000 miles pass by in 24 hours, at a speed of 25000/24 or just over 1000 miles per hour. Thus, we are all moving whether we perceive it or fail to acknowledge this truth,  ‘energy in motion’.

Warrior Pose, 2007

Warrior Pose, 2007

We are taught that this world is full of opposites and we learn in school to see the opposites and compare differences. I learned through the medium of Yoga which coincidentally means “to Yoke, union, bring together” that life’s opposites are more like complimentary parts of the whole.  Together these polarities bring greater meaning to the sum of its parts. Its like having variables of an equation that fit or contrast enough to create rebirth. All of which, seemingly different in obvious definitions and expression come from the same spectrum of light and life. Man is brilliant at seeing differences but slow at seeing the beautify of polarity as necessary compliments I first was introduced to Meditation from Nature at age 10. I would often play outside as refuge from an abusive home environment. It was  Nature that I first learned to listen, to quiet Self, to breathe with the wind and thus become apart of creation itself. My reason for learning to meditate? You wouldnt believe me if I told you, but I will share. My ten year old mind said, “these people are going to kill me, with their junk food, sad(standard american) diet, and toxic emotional behaviors, I better do something now” I had been a sickly kid with all kinds of allergies and skin eczema, and practically threw up everyday, by this time I had heart palpitations I hadnt even told my parents about. And Yes, I was only ten years old. But something moved me outdoors into Nature and into the Meditation of Myself. It was from deep within in meditation that i discovered the beauty of this world, of people, of our Universe. I was a tiny black girl buddha in suburbia awakening in consciousness way beyond my pre adolescent and adult years.

The Art of Meditation, Oak Canyon Park, Virginia, 2011

The Art of Meditation, Oak Canyon Park, Virginia, 2011

While Meditation brought mental clarity, inner peace and the connection, it was Asana that allowed me to ‘kinnect’ body with the etherical principles of this Mind,Body, Soul  science.  I first learned or rather took my first yoga class in Kundalini and Vinyasa yoga at my kids’ arts charter school in 2003 in Washington, DC.  My teacher, the late Dr. Swami Prem De Ben was taught directly from Swami Vishnudevananda of  Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres. I learned to heat up the body, Kriya cleanses, Bandha exercises, cool the body, and all types of asansa (yoga postures). I was meeting and a part of a community of Yoga instructors, philosophers, studio owners and students. I had discovered others of like mind and body and found soul connections with others in my community life. By 2007, I was  gliding into a lotus position and meditating full speed and by 2011 had my 1st certification in Yoga Teacher Training. I could just as in 2003, bring joy and happiness and unconditional love from the Universe into my heart, into my yoga postures, and walk away from class in an auric smile that permeated and was noticed from others who would yell, “what just happened to you? i want some of that?” “Yoga” I would smile back on my natural high. I wasnt only centered but channeled the feel good vibe into my daily life and onto those around me. Yoga was survival tool. Today, I have incorporated Iron into the mix of expression and discovering myself in a greater, more inclusive way. I am no longer JUST spiritual or JUST love, as I once was expected or described by others, as I was  just practicing yoga. Today I am stronger, more confident, and  more fearless moving outside of my comfort zone. I ventured onto the road of difficulty and intimidation that  I feel comes with exploring and learning weight lifting, HIIT, Crossfit and other Spartan clad athletics and I love it! (I am afterall a Sagittarius)  I was able (am able) to meet myself in the face of polarities that dwell within the sun and moonlit shadows. And Love All of Who I AM. Give yoga a try, you deserve it! (Follow me on Twitter and Instagram: @RiaSweetraw!)

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Yoga for Bodybuilders

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Yoga for Flexibility and Range of Motion: Beginners

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Yoga for Relaxation

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9 thoughts on “the Yin and Yang of Being, BodyBuilding and Practicing Yoga

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