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Should You Try High Intensity Interval Training?

Yoga is about more than bending into pretzels and looking like a model. Yoga is about a mind-body connection that any and every person can achieve. It’s for people of all shapes, sizes, and fitness levels. Yoga can be relaxing, yes, but it can also kick your butt.
Having your butt kicked isn’t a bad thing, though. It can challenge you to push yourself further. It can show you what you are capable of. It can help you accomplish things you’ve never done before.
Before we go any further, I’d like to make things clear. I’m talking about workouts that leave us exhausted and dripping in sweat. I’m not talking about pushing yourself to the point of risking injury. I’m talking about listening to your body and pushing yourself to your own personal limits. Speaking of limits, have you ever thought about trying High Intensity Interval Training (H.I.I.T)? Well, I’m here to say it will kick your butt in the very best of ways and has several surprising similarities to your current yoga practice.
H.I.I.T. classes seem to be all the rage right now. High Intensity Interval Training features blocks of high impact exercise with very short breaks in between. The Beachbody Insanity program is an example of this type of exercise, although they call it “max interval training.” H.I.I.T. focuses on mainly callisthenic exercises like pushups and jumping jacks. Do as many as you can in the time you’re given. No equipment. No counting. There are even lower impact modifications for most of the exercises.
Now this isn’t to say these workouts aren’t pretty insane. They will push you to your limit, but that’s the thing—it’s your limit. Go at your pace and do as many reps as you can do. But what is really important while doing one of these classes or programs is to make sure your form is correct. It is about doing the exercise in a way that safely gives you the most benefit for your time at the gym. Flailing around won’t do much and can get you injured. If you focus your mind and listen to what your body is telling you there is very little you can’t accomplish. Sound familiar? Like practicing a new pose in your yoga practice, you listen to your body and try your best to maintain correct form in order to minimize your risk of injury.

Beachbody claims that you can burn up to 1000 calories during an H.I.I.T workout. While that number will vary greatly between individuals and the specific workout, the message is clear. This is a program that requires proper nutrition and hydration. Take care of yourself. Listen to your body. Kick your own butt and have fun doing it! You won’t build tons of muscle doing this type of workout, but interval training has been shown to effectively burn fat, so if you stick with it, you will most definitely notice muscle definition and increased stamina.
While this workout fits many people’s needs, it isn’t for everyone. It is a high intensity and high impact workout. Anyone with knee injuries should consider a lower impact workout. If you have any concerns at all, check with your doctor before beginning the program. You can always work up to it.
If you are interested in high intensity interval training, many gyms offer H.I.I.T or Insanity classes you can try out. If you’re more of a homebody the Insanity Package from Beachbody runs about $150 and comes with 11 workouts, a workout schedule , and a nutrition program. Even if you don’t want to follow the nutrition program to the T, give it a look. You really do need to properly refuel your body when doing any workout, but especially a high intensity program like Insanity.
Just as in your yoga practice – especially on the days you’re most challenged and most focused – high intensity interval training connects your mind and body through focus, physical movement, and body awareness. It’s truly a total body experience and will be one of the best (and most challenging) workouts of your life. You’ll be a little sore in the morning, but just think about what you accomplished! This is the sort of program that pairs well with a restorative yoga practice.
So if you’re ready for a serious challenge, give it a shot. Know that it isn’t as impossible as it seems. You’re capable of more than you know.
If you’re interested in any more information on the Insanity Program, WebMD details the specific benefits and risks of this workout. Know yourself and your own limits. Don’t get too crazy! Enjoy the challenge!

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Ashley Stern

A Wisconsinite at heart, Ashley is currently a student working on her masters in creative writing in Edinburgh, Scotland. She’s a writer, a reader, traveler, a nerd, and a lover of life. Ashley is new to yoga and developing her practice from her student flat. She drinks a lot of tea and even more coffee. She’s a dog person, wears lots of purple, and believes in Laini Taylor’s wise words, “Cake as a way of life.”

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