Striving To Be Active: Why I Like Yoga

December 26, 2011 in Categories: , , by

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(originally posted December 8, 2011) 
As one of my yoga teachers is fond of saying “Do it so that you like it, so that you like doing it”And I do.  I love yoga.  It hits everything I need out of a time commitment to exercise: it increases full-body strength, it increases core strength, it’s a mild cardiovascular work-out, it increases balance, it increases flexibility, and it does wonders to relax and reduce stress.  What more could I ask for out of 75 minutes, 3 times a week (at my local YMCA, where my daughters love the daycare)?!  I also walk and do active play with my kids.  Thanks to yoga, I am in the best physical and mental shape I’ve ever been in (better than when I was running marathons in my mid-twenties!).

 I’m not suggesting that everyone do yoga.  You might love it, so I encourage you to give it a try.  But, it also might not be right for you.  A nice long yoga class might be asking too much from your schedule or your body or your sense of sarcasm.  Maybe you prefer zumba, or martial arts, or swimming, or spinning, or weight lifting.  Maybe you like to play soccer, or baseball or ultimate frisbee.  Maybe you love to garden, or hike, or go for trail rides on your mountain bike.  Maybe you’re an avid crossfitter (is there any other kind of crossfitter?)  Maybe you are just getting back into exercise and walking is all your body can handle.  Whatever exercise you choose to fit into your life, what matters most is that you do something and commit to doing it regularly.

Whatever activity (or activities) you enjoy, there are a couple of important things to keep in mind:

1.  Don’t overdo it.  This is one of the biggest downfalls for people trying to follow a paleolithic lifestyle.  Pushing your body too hard can cause an increase in stress hormone production, which can decrease your sleep quality, which can further increase stress.  It’s better to go for a lovely, long, slow stroll than to feel like you are dying while you sprint for twenty minutes.  You can still push your body to do more, but aim for very gradual improvement.

2.  Find something that will build strength and something that will provide some cardiovascular conditioning or, better yet, something that will do both.  But remember that neither of these aspects of your activity should be strenuous.

3.  Protect your joints, your back, and your brain.  Whatever activities you do, be aware of the injury risks involved and take precautions to protect your body.  This means proper warm up and cool down, proper stretching, proper technique, proper gear and following proper safety protocols.  For example, rotator cuff injuries are common in yoga, so I am extra careful with my technique during yoga pushups to not strain my shoulders.

4.  Think about the long-term.  Find some activities that you can do for your whole life (even if the intensity decreases over time).  If you can create a social aspect to your activities, all the better.

5.  Do it for enjoyment.  If you love your activity, you will love doing it, you will want to do it more, and it will be a hobby, instead of a chore.   If you stop enjoying it, take a break and find something else to do for a while.  Make sure you are having fun.



Excellent advice on adding movement to one’s life. I just came to your blog a few days ago and I am enjoying reading your posts. You are a good writer and I like your clear explanations.

I had a discussion with a friend last week who wanted to know why I wasn’t eating grains and sugar. I have been low carb/paleo since April and am really getting serious about no sugar in my diet. (Very hard for me). I did my best to explain what grains do, what sugar does, why dietary fat does not cause heart disease etc. but she was utterly unconvinced because, I gathered, I was not an expert, i.e. PHd researcher. It was very illogical yet interesting. I think that shifting her thinking away from conventional dietary wisdom was way too freaky for her.
Looking forward to reading more from you! And I’m making the Paleo Snickerdoodles tonight – thanks! 🙂

Hi Susannah!

Thank you so much for the positive feedback! I try and distill current nutritional and lifestyle information to something accessible for everyone. And I try very hard to keep up with the latest information and update as needed. I’m always happy to receive comments and specific questions and chat about some of the aspects of Paleolithic nutrition that are still controversial.

And I just have to know: did you like the Snickerdoodles?


I really really really enjoy your blog. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom. I went to your blog tonight to see if I could find your email address to ask you about….exercise! I have a significant amount of weight to lose. Between 80 and 100. Have you always primarily done yoga? How did you start exercising when you started on your weight loss journey? I can’t afford Crossfit, which bums me out. But I am a member of a very affordable gym. I pretty much stick to cardio on the elliptical machine, keeping my heartrate low. Any insight or advice would be appreciated! ( Thank you!

Hi! I know this is an older post but I am just starting Paleo. I am desperately wanting to be healthier. I, like Donna, also use the elliptical at the gym 5 days a week. Is this too much? I don’t want to raise my cortisol levels; however it seems to help my stress. I am not a good sleeper as well. I just started yoga as well but not really sure which yoga workouts to focus on to benifit me…I haven’t lost any weight since I started working out which makes me think it might be too much. Any advice would be great! I’m more concerned with being healthy; however I am carrying an extra 20lbs in my stomach. If there are other exercises that are more beneficial then the elliptical, I’m interested. I enjoy working out so I’m up for whatever you suggest.
Thank you!

Marian here again. I have been doing a “boot camp” for the last year, on and off since I had ankle surgery in December 2011.
I still have 60+ lbs to lose and am confused as to what I should do. I do do long bike rides 40+ miles….when I get the time. Otherwise I try to park at one end of campus so I have to walk farther….your blogs are so helpful. Sorry I am so needy…

If you are trying to lose weight, the best thing to do is something that takes a long time (like your bike rides or a good walk) that isn’t to strenuous (if it is, you’ll increase stress hormones which block weight loss). Combined with doing some exercise that increases muscle (like weight training, yoga, swimming, and maybe your boot camp) that also isn’t too strenuous (boot camp can be a bit too much depending on who is teaching it) will help too. Increasing your activity throughout the day (like walking farther across campus or standing instead of sitting) is VERY helpful too. Sounds like you are on the right track!

I found some great information in your blog. This blog is very useful and helpful to me. Thank you for sharing this information with us informative .. I love your blog……

I have never actually tried it. I am very flexible and am worried that I would hurt myself. There’s some research showing that strenuous exercise in a hot environment increases leaky gut more so than strenuous exercise by itself, but I not sure if that you apply to yoga.

I know this is an older post, but I have a question that I’m hoping you can help me with regarding exercise. I teach yoga and I love it!! Helps to bring everything into balance for me. but what I notice is whenever I go to the gym and lift weights or do Hiit, my weight increases, as well as I feel totally run down. My thought on this is that my body does not do well with this kind of stress. Producing to much cortisol ect. Is this a reasonable thought?
My lifestyle is Paleo, I rotate my foods due to leaky gut. Before getting sick in 2011, Leaky gut, lead to inflammation, lead to signs of RA.(my husband was having to dress me) I use to lift very heavy weights and always pushed myself. But since getting well I have noticed that my body no longer response well to the high intensity like before.

Sarah does not recommend strenuous exercise for those with a leaky gut and/or autoimmune issues. This is discussed in detail in The Paleo Approach. You can read more about the book here: You may also want to join our new The Paleo Approach Community group on Facebook and ask for support there. The group has over 4,000 members, you can request to join here: — Tamar, Sarah’s assistant

[…] Exercising inappropriately can be problematic for people with an unbalanced microbiome. Sarah Ballantyne addresses this in two podcasts: Exercise Performance & Gut Health & The Too Much of Exercise. On her blog she also stresses the importance of exercise, explores the benefits of gentle movement, and tells us why she likes yoga. […]

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