Ending with meditation

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The meditation at the end of the workout is like a ribbon that ties everything together. In our yoga classes, one or two students always skip out before the meditation period at the end of the workout. If it weren't for the fact that the meditation is meant to be quiet and contemplative, we would shout at these students: "Hey, wait a minute! Yes, I'm talking to you! You're missing one of the best parts of the class — perhaps even the most important one, the one you may need the most!"

Meditation is an excellent opportunity to sit with yourself and your thoughts. It's your chance to take an inner inventory, so to speak, and look within yourself for direction in your life. Meditation requires training and patience, but the rewards are plentiful. It leaves you stronger and wiser. And think about it: If you can't stand to be with yourself in meditation, why should anyone else want to be with you?

Be sure to include a meditation at the end of your workout. A meditation takes only a few moments, integrating all the practices of your workout, as it quiets your body and mind, leaving you feeling refreshed and ready for the rest of your day. With practice, meditation gives you more balance and clarity in your life. Chapter 6 explains what yoga meditation is and gives many different ways and techniques to help you meditate.

Choosing how and when to work out

As tempted as you may be to focus exclusively on one part of your body in your custom-made workout, try to work several parts. Overtraining one part of your body or one muscle group can cause strains and even injuries.

Choose a different workout for each day or every other day of the week, and take a break from exercising on the fourth day. This way, you don't overdo it in the beginning. Instead of a yoga-with-weights workout on your day of rest, go for a walk and do warm-up exercises (see Chapter 6). You need some physical activity every day to stay in good health.

Change your exercise program every three to six weeks. You favor certain muscles — and perhaps overdevelop them — by doing the same exercises all the time. And you can get into an exercise rut and suffer from boredom if you stay with the same routine. By continually adapting your exercise program, you make sure all the areas of your body get enough exercise and continually challenge yourself at yoga with weights.

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