Looking for ways to work out that calm you down and stretch you out? Consider this advice from the book Bitches on a Budget:


While we weren’t modern-dance minors, we are spiritually in tune with the energy of yoga, Pilates, and tai chi. Nothing is more soothing (short of drugs and alcohol, let’s be honest) to calm your spirits in good times or bad.

Based on the principles of centering, concentration, precision, breath, and flow, Pilates helps enhance a strong mind-body connection and offers a keen focus on breathing and core strengthening. Few exercise programs work as well at buttressing your back and abs. Originally developed by Joseph Pilates to rehabilitate soldiers after WWI, this exercise is great for women sixteen to eighty. We’re not big fans of mat classes, but love using the machines—there’s something so sexy about working out on beds called Reformers and Cadillacs!

Yes, yoga can be intimidating. There’s just something paradoxical about such a hip, cool, hey-man, groovy activity that makes us feel so klutzy. You know, you get to the class and the instructor—after a slow, ambiguously profound morning meditation—snaps up and tells you to go into Downward-facing Dog. For a moment you think you’re in some new sex-position class, until you look left at the woman’s butt in your face. You hurry to copy her, but before you know it, Plank, Child’s Pose, and Triangle have all been intoned and you’re still trying to stand up straight from the Rover position. Trust us, we’ve been there. But for feeling refreshed, relaxed, and really flexible, nothing beats a great yoga class.

The trick is to find the right kind of yoga, a style that works for you, and a good instructor. Shop around, check out different styles and different teachers. Once you’ve mastered the positions (in yoga class), consider doing it at home; but, at the beginning, we’re more comfortable having corrections made to our posture by a professional. While yoga seems benign, you really can injure yourself—never, ever, ever get yourself into positions that hurt. Do not allow anyone to intimidate you into pushing beyond what your body can comfortably do.

While every girl may not be flexible enough for yoga, every girl should be able to master the forms of tai chi chuan. There are many branches and styles of this martial art. Get out to the park, find a class that you like, and get in line. Reassemble your body. Experience yourself in a new place and time. This is the single best mind-body connecting exercise we have ever done. Open up your life force through carefully crafted motion handed down through generations. Forget the fads—thousands and thousands of years of teaching and practice mean something. Excellent for blood flow, balance, posture, and general movement; plus, studies show it helps reduce blood pressure and offers relief for chronic illness. This is the single best stress-reducing exercising we have ever done! Okay, okay, we know . . . reassemble yourself, life force, new place and time—we sound like that om-ing modern-dance minor. But we’re willing to take that risk: This stuff is so good.