Monday, July 25, 2011

City Walks for Fitness

Due to the challenge posed by a diagnosis of the beginnings of osteoarthritis of the right knee, my fitness journey had to change focus. 
Initially, I felt frustrated as, most of the time, satisfactory speed in weight loss efforts is most fruitful when high impact, high intensity workouts are done.   
Bollywood Dance WorkoutInterestingly, it is around the time that I feel that I have finally grappled my way to a solution to the above problem that I met an old friend after ages. One could consider that this friend required to lose weight. There is a willingness in the person to lose weight. Yet the only activity consistently done in this direction seems to be a daily 40 minute walk.
CardioTrainerWhat is interesting is that, on that very day, I embarked on longer distance walking. I did not tell my friend that I was planning on a 3-4 hour walk. I did not, at the time, know this would be the time frame-I was merely challenging myself to walk to the nearest mall I knew that sells most items much cheaper. I did tell my friend that the speed of walking should occasionally be sharply increased during a walk, say: one minute normal-walk to 15 seconds of "getting breathless" walk.
Stretching for SeniorsFor about a month or more I had already done several one hour forty minute walks. I was a bit sore-lasting roughly a couple of hours-after the first one but have never looked back since. This just stresses the need to do relaxed stretching and limbering up before a walk, especially a long one. One might, like I did, think that just walking is enough of a warm up. Avoid the risks of cramps and catches by studying and practising pre-workout routines.
Once upon a time I thought that walking was a boring way to lose weight and I would certainly go insane if I had to walk round and round the same perimeter day after day.
My "city walks" are anything but boring: you chance upon all kinds of challenges and innumerable surprise delights for the senses all the time: birds of all kinds, people going about their daily life stories, rapturous interludes in sylvan havens and so much more.
At first I took a relatively long time to get out there on my walk. Now it's a breeze. If it looks like rain I carry my umbrella and it serves as a walking stick, is elegant and most of all fun to twirl! 
I do try and carry drinking water. 
Wallet is most optional. After you get used to the joy of the walks, it's a self set challenge to not carry money. 
Fitness is not only abut the body: it builds moral and mental muscle.
A typical city walk demands mindfulness for safety: it's not for the namby pamby.You can fall into manholes, pits, get hit by vehicles, cut on barbed wire, get mugged, etc., etc. 
Let me wind down with a word about post walk cool-downs.
1. Do stretch and loosen muscles as soon as possible after the long walk.
2. Do continue to keep yourself hydrated in you live in a warm/hot climate.
3. Do have your post-walk snack/meal as soon as possible: include a fistful of each important thing-protein, carbs, fruit/veg.
4. Don't have a cold shower right after your walk if you live in a hot /warm climate. A hot shower later will relax any remaining muscle tiredness.
5. Do be amazed at how quickly the body recovers and you can do your mundane household chores with a spring in your step and a song on your lip.
One last word of caution: do not use ear phones to listen to music, etc. This workout requires extreme mindfulness.
Happy walking!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Edwin Thoo

When we were in Malaysia, we had joined Celebrity Fitness in Midvalley. The gym offered all kinds of free classes and we had taken up Beginner's Yoga. However, the instructors for this course at that time were not very pleasant at all: they used to come up to us and try and force our bodies into the asanas.
The Complete Book of Vinyasa Yoga: The Authoritative Presentation-Based on 30 Years of Direct Study Under the Legendary Yoga Teacher KrishnamachaOne Chinese New Year, they were on leave and the substitute, Edwin Thoo, made a great impression on us although he was very unassuming. And so we shifted to his Vinyasa class. 
Though he had warned us that this was not for beginners, we could cope as, somehow, his voice, for one thing, though not loud or shrill, was audible and comprehensible to us. Due to his calmness of nature, even though he mainly sat on the podium and instructed, it was easy to try the instructions.
His classes were always full, a tribute to his qualities as a Guru. He had some simple rules: we had to be there much before time. He would also enter earlier though after the class had more or less filled. This time was spent stretching or practising moves.
The class began with either seated or standing meditation, followed by some Suryanamaskaram moves. Like many other Hindu Indians, we had some exposure to Yoga when we were youngsters. The middle part of the class would be slightly challenging and then he would swiftly make us move into easier poses until we wound down with Savasana. This was followed by a seated meditation to end the session.
We also joined his Partner Yoga classes. These were excellent for a couple although we were the only couple: most of the class was young girls! Doing the Yoga Poses together can act as a wonderful stretching and massage session. There is laughter together as we fumble. It is excellent therapy for couples. Partner Yoga - Making Contact for Physical, Emotional, and Spiritual Growth
So, if you are in Malaysia and want to do some Yoga, you must look for this wonderful instructor.