BE BALANCED: BE YOU: WE'LL BE FEATURING DIFFERENT WOMEN EACH WEEK THAT HAVE SOMEHOW INFLUENCED OUR LIVES AND INSPIRED US WITH THEIR STRENGTH AND GRACE. DAUB + DESIGN AMBASSADOR, JY STEWART OPENS US ABOUT FINDING A BALANCE BETWEEN DIFFERENT EXERCISES AND LISTENING TO WHAT HER MIND AND BODY NEEDS ON A DAILY BASIS.
I was a competitive swimmer for 13 years, which required multiple training sessions a day for 6 days a week. When I stopped swimming I felt quite lost. For the past 13 years I had had a coach tell me where to be, what to do and how it should be done. The idea that movement/fitness was now up to me was a little bit overwhelming. At first I really enjoyed the lack of requirements and scheduling freedom, however for someone who is more productive doing more, the appeal of doing less did not last long. So, I went as far away from a competitive sport as I could get and fully immersed myself in yoga. I had been introduced to it years before through swimming, but always as something to do on a day off, not something to do for a work out. I promptly fell in love with moving my body again, but moving it when I wanted to and listening to how it wanted to move. I progressed in flexibility like I never had while swimming and learned to create awareness of all the little tiny muscles in each area of my body.
After practicing just yoga as my form of activity for almost 2 years, my joints that had been so used to weight bearing and performing under load started to complain. And I recognized that for my body I needed external stimulus as well as body weight movements to find my happy balance. I started to explore various weight exercises and was introduced to Olympic weightlifting. The two movements: the clean and jerk and the snatch where such a challenge for me and I loved it! I started to mix in weighted movements with my body weight yoga practice. It took me almost 2 years of doing both to find my happy balance. I train Olympic weightlifting 5-6 days per week and practice yoga 3-4 days per week. The difference for me now is that I am choosing what movement patterns work best for me on any given day. If my body is feeling extra mobile, I know on that day that additional stretching will cause my joints some extra stress. Conversely if my body is feeling super tight, I will need some form of yoga, anything from Yin to Power to get my body moving before I even think about adding weight for movements.
For me, I find yoga and Olympic weightlifting to be quite similar. Both allow me to quiet all the chaos that takes place in my mind on any given day. If I come to my mat with chaos, all I need is a few breaths to quiet the mind and internalize my focus. If I step up to the bar for a lift and my thoughts are not fully centered on that moment then the lift will not be successful.
My sanity comes from my forms of movement. It took me quite a bit of time to find the balance of movements that keep me sane. Although this, to some, is a non-traditional combination of movements, it works perfectly for me. And I would strongly encourage others to play around to find their balance. Our lives these days are constantly scattered from one thing to the next, so finding something that allows all that extra noise to momentarily quiet or shut off is key, in my opinion, to leading a healthy, balanced life.