Yoga as exercise is a physical activity consisting mainly of postures (asanas), often connected by flowing sequences called vinyasas, sometimes accompanied by rhythmic breathing (pranayama), and often ending with relaxation (lying down in savasana) or meditation. By the end of a yoga class, you are rejuvenated and relaxed. However, all it takes is one phone call (and in the following case three) and it’s all gone.
I would like to share with you the last yoga class I took, and why I felt the need to write about it. I will start by saying that I practice yoga three times a week. Every time I enter the studio I take off my shoes, place my mat on the floor, and silence my phone. This became a routine on my end, and it sets my intention for a good practice. However, not everyone is doing that. I will often see fellow yogis with their phones on their mats, texting or browsing social media while practicing. As much as it is harmful to them (continue reading, you will be surprise of the negative effects), this is not why my class was interrupted.
15 minutes into the class, one of the yogis’ phone rang. My instructor requested the class to make sure all phones are off or on silence, and for that person to turn it off. No one moved from their mats. The same phone rang again. My instructor repeated his request “Please turn off the phone and make sure for next time to set it on silent”. Again, no one went to turn it off. When it rang for the third time, my instructor gave up, and with all mindfulness left the class. I want to believe this will not happen again. Hopefully, when you finish reading this, you will discover why it is important to avoid the use of your phone. I am sure it won’t happen again in my yoga class, with this particular instructor, just make sure it doesn’t happen in your class either.
Turn off your phone!
Why is It So Bad?
For starters, this is ruining the experience for everyone else, during the class you are not paying attention and we all notice that. If it’s when you use the machines and you are talking, you are bothering everyone else that are there for a reason.
If that’s not enough, cell phone usage while exercising was proven as harming. Let me explain in what way.
A study, published by Performance Enhancement & Health, examined the posture of college students while they were doing four rounds of simple posture trials on a treadmill, each time using a different phone function. The first group was texting, the second was talking on the phone, the third listening to music, while the last group did not use the phone at all (they were the control group).
The results were fascinating:
While texting, postural stability decreased by 45%, when compared to the control group of not using the phone at all.
Talking on the phone decreased balance and posture by 19%.
However, listening to music showed very little difference with no significant changes.
This is only on a treadmill, can you imagine while doing a three legged downward dog?! Yoga is all about the right form, you are not maintaining it if you are on the phone.
If this is not enough, Hiram College study showed an increased risk of injury when using our phones while exercising. ”If you’re talking or texting on your cellphone while you’re putting in your daily steps,” says Michael Rebold, Ph.D., assistant professor of integrative exercise science ”your attention is divided by the two tasks and that can disrupt your postural stability, and therefore, possibly predispose individuals to other greater inherent risks such as falls and musculoskeletal injuries.”. When we are on our phones while exercising we are risking an unnecessary injury. Your body needs your full and undevoted attention.
We go to the gym to see results. Those researchers also found that while our attention is divided between what we are doing and our phone, we most likely are not giving each rep a worthy effort, maybe not even to both sides of the body. As the above test showed that texting creates an environment of distraction leading to a less intense, and therefore less effective exercise — at the end of the day, we end up leaving with a half body workout without even knowing. We know that we can not multitask, apparently it applies to exercising too.
So What Now?
No matter if you are doing a group exercise or using the machines at the gym. If you are aiming for the best results, make sure to only use your phone to listen to music. You are there for a reason. The phones will still be there in an hour.
Respect your teacher, your practice, and yourself by setting them aside before you enter the practice room.
As for my yoga readers — Yoga is a space for hearing your own voice. You’ll miss it if you can’t disconnect from the barrage of voices streaming through your phone…