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I Should Have Listened...

Updated: Aug 13, 2023

There are a few times in my fitness journey when I had a moment of "I should have listened..." Learning and practicing yoga at a younger age would have greatly benefited me now. I have been practicing yoga for about two years now and it has been an amazing journey so far. My flexibility has greatly increased and it is getting easier for me to get out of bed. Even the (pre)existing injuries and the muscle imbalances I have obtained during my military service and law enforcement career are getting better. The best part of practicing yoga is my lower back pain is slowly going away and I can feel the reverse of the aging process.

I started practicing yoga when I was 37, turning 38, and I am turning 40 this year in October. Prior to learning and practicing yoga I could feel lower back discomfort. Getting up in the morning was becoming more difficultI and I can feel my muscles were tight and experienced limited mobility in my hip extensors and flexors. It took my body an hour or so to feel somewhat normal, but still I had limited mobility.

When I was younger and started my journey in the workforce I joined the military and after I went into law enforcement. Both career fields are physically demanding. At the time, those career-fields were predominantly men with a very macho attitude. I have always been a gym-goer and I would see the yoga classes filled with women and I noticed every yoga instructor was a woman as well. I developed an assumption yoga was mainly practiced by women so I never attended. I did inquire about yoga from a few of the class participants and I could see how much they loved it. They would mention how rejuvenated they would feel throughout the day among other benefits. Even the older women, who were probably in their mid to late 40s looked like they were in their early 30s and moving like they were still in their 20s. It was just amazing to see and feel the positive energy emitting form the yoga classes.

I would see the same group of women doing the yoga classes and every time I would be astonished by their flexibility and incredible balance. At that time, I haven't had much training in human movement science. My knowledge was limited to what I was taught in the Marines and in law enforcement physical training, but I did know it took an amazing amount of athleticism to pull off some of those poses and movement they were performing. Even still, being in a career-field with mostly men, I never attended yoga classes nor did I practice it. I went about my way and did what every dude did in the gym; lift heavy weights until I hurt myself, stop going when I got injured, and repeated that same cycle for many years to come.

As the years went on I could feel my muscles becoming more prone to injuries, due to muscle imbalances and synergistic dominance. I would experience back spasms and every flare up was so painful I had to go to my family doctor to get treatment. I would be immobile for about 2 weeks and laid up in my bed. Of course, this would lead to weight gain and depression. I would remember hearing stories from older co-workers talking about back pain and being immobile in the mornings. The older I was getting I would experience the same symptoms of aging myself.

Photo of me from 2015 and I weighed about 250 lbs.

I started my fitness business in 2018 so I could finally work in a career I am passionate about when I retired (2021) and I thought I could learn something valuable along the way. When I started, I begin mapping my path in the fitness industry and earning credentials as a trainer and coach. The more I learned about the human movement system the more I understood the science behind it. I applied the flexibility techniques I learned and I would attended yoga classes to further expand my knowledge. Once I began practicing yoga it wasn't for a bout a month or so until I started feeling the positive affects of it. I became more mobile and the frequency of back spasms went from monthly to every few months. Eventually the back spasm would become a yearly thing verses monthly, so I am very thankful for that.

Now-a-days I actually feel physically better than I did when I was in my early 30s. I'm even confident in saying that I feel better now than I did in my 20s. I have been practicing yoga for a little more than two years and although my muscles do feel tight every now and then, I am no longer experiencing crippling pain and immobility to the point where I have to stay in bed. I often think to myself "I should have listened to ladies in the yoga class and started my yoga practice years ago." Without the lower back pain I am feeling optimized and healthy. It is crazy how crippling immobility and muscle imbalances can be. To live without back pain and discomfort is an amazing gift. Here are some tips to help you get started in yoga:

  1. Practice every day; attend classes and ask questions

  2. Stretch in the morning; make it a habit

  3. Move your joints and the muscles surrounding the joints in your full range of motion

  4. Stretch through out the day -- at least 3 times daily

  5. Stretch before bed

Follow these simple tips and you will discover an increased range of motion and it will surely promote happiness. You will have a sense of accomplishment and wit that comes with the feeling of fulfillment. Trust me. In the next blog or so I will write tips to help promote calmness, ease anxiety and stress through yoga. Be sure to read that one. I look forward to writing it for you!

Coach Herman is a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor specializing in sunrise yoga.

Text: (909) 532-2455


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