Saturday, August 7, 2010

A fitness book for real people

A year after I had my daughter, I had an epiphany.  I was sluggish, everything took an effort, and I was still wearing maternity clothes because I couldn't fit into any of my pre-pregnancy wardrobe.  Not good.  But when I started looking for a exercise book or video (we have an absolute slew of them here at the library), I came up against a problem.  Perhaps you've had this problem too.
Most exercise guides seem to be aimed at people who are already fit.  Frankly, if I could do 50 sit-ups in 10 minutes, I wouldn't need an exercise guide.  When you're just starting out on the path to fitness, you need a guide that assumes you can't do any sit-ups, pushups or roundhouse kicks.  A guide that accommodates your stiff joints, tight muscles and spare tire.
Big Yoga: a simple guide for bigger bodies by Meera Patricia Kerr does just this.  She gives you a brief history of yoga, the simple equipment and clothing that will make things more comfortable, advice on how to get around the "stumbling blocks" and excuses people use to avoid exercise, and proper breathing techniques.  But the meat of the book is the section on Hatha Yoga poses.  Each pose is illustrated with a clear photograph, a description of the techniques and benefits, and - most importantly - considerations and adaptations.  For instance, with the Easy Sitting Pose (#38) she advises that if you have a bra with an underwire, you'll want to adjust the position of your arms so you don't feel pinched.  When you do the Triangle Pose (#33), you can rest your hand on your thigh if you can't reach all the way to the floor.
This book is informative, supporting, and reassuring for anyone who is new to exercise and looking for a way to gently ease into a healthier, fitter lifestyle that will alleviate aches, stiffness and fatigue. 

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