I love sweat. I love to push my body to its absolute limits, and I like to do it as often as possible. I also love sleep. Waking up at 4:30 am for an insanely metabolic workout has become second nature to me, and it is something I find great joy in . But when a friend invited me to an early morning yoga class, I was a bit dubious. 4:30 a.m for yoga? I pictured ladies in leotards, chanting and stretching; the prospect was less than thrilling. In an effort at open-mindedness, though, I stumbled out of bed and went to get my "OM" on. The first thing I noticed, once my eyes came into focus, was how fit everyone appeared. The second was the pool of sweat beginning to form on my pad. This was hard. The peaceful, but strict, instructor took us quickly through a series of poses. I began to feel some heat in muscles that I didn’t even know I had. It was an entirely different burn than the familiar one brought on by the kettlebells I love to swing. Different…but AWESOME! The hour flew by, and by the end of class I was thoroughly drenched, alert, and loose. I went back the next week, and the week after, and every week since. Some really interesting things have happened with my body since I found my inner yogi. First, my spine does not get locked the way it used to. Given my chronic injury this is a BIG deal. While I have occasional stiffness, it is less severe and for a much shorter duration than it was before I began this practice. Second my range of motion and flexibility over my entire body has improved dramatically. Third, I am stronger and faster than ever before, probably because those little muscles I didn’t know I had are getting trained, along with the big ones I work intentionally. I find that I walk taller, breath better, and just feel good, and the results stay with me throughout the week. I can honestly say, every other hour of my week is better because of the one hour I spend in that studio. Curious about why I was feeling so good, I approached my instructor after class one day and asked about the less obvious benefits of yoga. He said it stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, enhances lymphatic drainage, increases immunity, establishes normal endocrine function and promotes general well being. A few hours on a Google search provided me with more detail on a host of other benefits, and even more commitment to this new practice. It’s been about 6 months since my first class, and I have to say, I am addicted. Every preconceived notion I had about yoga has proven to be false. It’s challenging in a different way, it gives me a different set of goals (currently my goal is to work to a full handstand) and provides an entirely different type of workout. But it is a workout, without a doubt. I see more definition in my shoulders and triceps than when I was only training with weights, and my core strength is way better. The best part is, you don’t have to take away from your current routine to reap these benefits. Sometimes I’m fortunate to make it to 2 classes a week, but for the most part I only go to 1. I’ve always been kind of die hard in my thought process, and if I do something that I love, it’s usually to excess. But in this case, I’m getting all of these amazing perks for the bargain price of 60 minutes of my time per week. If you’re skeptical, do your mind and body a favor and pop into a class near you. It’s a mental, physical and sometimes spiritual, workout that will leave you feeling like you can take on the world! Erin stays busy pursuing her own fitness goals, and helping to educate and inspire those she loves to live healthier lives. A hair stylist by trade, she manages a salon, and is chipping away at a degree, ultimately in dietetics and kinesiology. She lives in South Florida with her husband and a “pound puppy” named Pedro.