A Twist in the Yoga Fairy Tale

I’ve been reading a book, Show Your Work! 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered. It’s an easy, fun read that gives lots of great reminders about how and why we should share what we do with the public. One of the chapters is called, “Tell Good Stories.” In the chapter, the author writes:

Your work doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Whether you realize it or not, you’re already telling a story about your work. Every email you send, every text, every conversation, every blog comment, every tweet, every photo, every video – they’re all bits and pieces of a multimedia narrative you’re constantly constructing.

That comment made me think about this blog and how I am telling a story about my practice and sharing that story with y’all. And it made me realize, when you think about plot structure (particularly the rising action/falling action part), we have now entered a rising action/climatic/problematic moment in the story of my yoga practice. And it this is:

My yoga studio is closing on August 30.

End scene.

The opposite of a smiling, happy face.

The opposite of a smiling, happy face.

I don’t even know how to follow that statement up. I don’t even know what to say about it at all. At first, I went into shock, then panic, and then some kind of emailing/texting frenzy with other yoga buddies who were all as equally panicked and upset. A number of things hit me:

  • Where will I practice?
  • The Greek restaurant will no longer be next door to wherever I practice, and I can’t just grab and go on Greek food whenever I want it. What if I need to eat a giant cookie before class? It happens. This sucks.
  • What about half price wine bottle day on Wednesdays at the Greek restaurant? God, this sucks
  • What about my yoga buddies? I know we’re not all gonna land in the same spot. We’re gonna get all disjointed and fragmented and scattered. God, this sucks.

Of course I immediately started googling all the possible options I had and then mapping them out to determine distance. In doing so, I immediately decided a couple of things:

  • there are at least three hot yoga studies within 15-20 minutes of me. only one of these is a Bikram studio. there is, therefore, no need to be driving 30+ minutes to a studio even if it looks totally awesome.
  • you might be wondering why I wouldn’t automatically drift into the other Bikram studio – especially since it is an easy drive. i won’t get into that here. i will just say it has nothing to do with the practice.
  • yes, i am considering hot yoga options that are not Bikram yoga. when I say they are not Bikram, I don’t mean non-affiliated studios. some studies teach Bikram yoga but call themselves something else. for two of the three studios, they do not offer anything that is Bikram (I don’t think).

I am going to see my practice at my studio through until the end (August 30th). Then I will probably try out these two non-Bikram studios in September using their new student specials. Might as well.

But even though I have a Bikram studio I can easily fall into, I am heart broken. I know the owners need to do what’s best for them, but it doesn’t make it easy on me. This yoga, and all my yoga buddies in it, are a critical part of my life. I know nothing stays the same forever, but if I could have one thing stay the same it would have been this.

***Special Thanks are in order to my Yoga Buddy Mark over at Do The Posture Please!! for listening to me and providing me with some perspective. Yoga Buddies are the best.

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Back in the Saddle

In my last post, I explained how my studio had been shut down to a sprinkler head exploding. Well, great news! It’s back open. It opened up again last Thursday, and you can believe I was at the 9:00 am class. I had gone 11 days without yoga.

So, what was class like? And what was it like to go to class having done 109 days on and 11 days off?

DIVINE

Class felt so good and wonderful and amazing. I was tight though. I think most of us were. My hamstrings had gotten really tight, but not as bad as I thought they would be. I was almost able to fully kick out on my right side in SH2K and still could on my left. However, I can’t go any farther in SH2K on my left side at the moment except to kick out. My hamstring is tight, and kicking out feels so good. I just need to stay there and hold it like that for awhile (which is what I’m doing).

breaktimeThe other thing I learned from my 11 days off is that having a break was a good thing. Yep. You heard me right. Now, I don’t think I needed 11 days off (I’m getting ready to take about that much time off again for a vacation soon). But I do think taking a couple of days off after my 100-Day challenge could have been a good thing. There’s a part of me that sees the benefit in going 5-6 days a week and having 1-2 days off. Then there’s the part of me that, while I totally recognize the benefit of taking a mindful day or two off each week, knows that I will totally keep going to class every day until I hit my vacation.

But even though I may not listen to myself, I do want to put in a good word for taking a mindful day off (or two) each week. Sometimes these days are forced on us based on our schedules and life events, and sometimes we could simply choose to take a day off. I think in both cases we can be mindful of our days outside the hot room even if it’s not our choice to have to miss class.

For example, I know that this week I have painters coming to my house and that they will be here for two full days. I don’t know when they will start, but I know it won’t be Monday. So I will mindfully choose to go to class on Monday. Once I know when they are coming, and once I know their schedule and what I need to do in relation to it, I may find that I have to miss a class. Since I don’t want to miss a lot of classes in a given week, I can know that I will attend classes the other days of the week, and I can acknowledge the day that I need to (potentially) miss. And that’s ok.

Make sense?

Let’s remember to be kind to ourselves. Push ourselves appropriately, and take breaks mindfully.

Three Years Ago Today on MBYL

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The End of the Line

Once I hit my 100-Day mark, a common question I got was: Did you take a break/Are you going to keep going?

My answer was, no, I did not take a break. Yes, I would keep going until for some reason I cannot come to class.

Well, that day came sooner than I expected. On Day 109 (May 16th) I showed up and took the 9:00 am class. About five minutes after I had left the studio they had an absolutely horrible thing happen. A sprinkler head busted letting loose about 2000 gallons of water. The studio was obviously shut down for massive repairs.

The studio is currently projected to open on Thursday, May 28th. Assuming it does, it will mean I went 11 days without class.

I googled, "What does 2000 gallons of water look like?" and got this.

I googled, “What does 2000 gallons of water look like?” and got this.

Yes, of course I could go to another studio. I live kinda dead center between two Bikram studios. But honestly I do not feeling like paying 80.00 for a five day class pass at another studio (yep. that’s what it costs). I’d rather just not go. But it’s not like I’m sitting around doing nothing. I’ve taken advantage of this time to do something different. I am hiking my booty off.

I used to be super into hiking, and I used to have a pedometer. About a month ago, I decided to get another one and ended up with a Fitbit Charge. I love it, and I’m totally geeked out on it.

During my time away from the studio, I’ve been going on 90 minute – two hour hikes on different trails around town in the morning and then walking 30-45 minutes more after dinner (plus walking the dog four times a day). This has gotten me up to about eight miles a day but sometimes as much at 10!

I’ve enjoyed having something different to do, but I miss my yoga. In the last three or so days of my challenge, I had gotten to the point where I could kick out my right leg fully in SH2K. You know that’s probably not gonna be the case when I get back to the studio!

I obviously could have kept going to class had I been willing to shell out the money at a neighboring studio, but it just wasn’t worth it to me. I’m happy with my choice, and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens when I get back in there.

One of my Yoga Buddies, The Yoga Princess, recently posted this on her FB page:

Life will always happen. We can’t change or control that. The good news is that we CAN control our attitudes and reactions. Smiling and feeling happy will make your day better and it will brighten the lives of people around you.

Life happened. It happened in a really bad way for my studio. Let’s at least be as kind as we can to ourselves and each other.

Three Years Ago Today on MBYL

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Yoga Without Apologies

Last week, I discussed how my 100-Day challenge had two themes running through it. The first was my being more aware of why I was/was not staying in postures. Today, I want to talk about the second theme which is yoga without apologies.

During my challenge, I realized that for years I have been apologizing about my yoga practice. Here are some examples:

  • I’m sorry. Can we meet at 1:00 instead of 11:00? I’m going to yoga in the morning.
  • I’m sorry. I can’t attend X event as I will be at yoga.
  • I’m sorry. I will have to leave X event slightly early. I have to get to yoga.
  • I’m sorry. Going out for breakfast doesn’t really work for me. It messes up my yoga practice (because I will eat like a pig).

Now, let me be clear. I’m not shirking my responsibilities or missing out on really fun stuff in order to get my yoga in. I’m not doing yoga at all costs. I’m getting my practice in and I’m working my life in alongside it. Sometimes I choose to not attend things because doing so would mean I couldn’t get to yoga. But I evaluated my choice and decided the yoga was the better option.

At some point during my challenge, I became extra aware that I was doing this apologizing this. I was aware that I was apologizing for having a practice and taking care of myself! Why? Why should I feel guilty and why do people need to know that I’m at yoga anyways? It’s generally not their business.

sorrySo I stopped apologizing for my practice. I caught myself recently. I was planning on going to the 9:00 am class, but I needed to have a skype meeting with someone. I had suggested 12:30, but he asked if it could be 11:30. I thought hmmmm…..got to get home, shower, and walk the dog. 11:30 is pushing it. Instead of saying, “I’m sorry, but I’m coming back from yoga and blah, blah, blah,” I just said, “How about 11:45?” Because really, I just needed a slight bit more time to get ready. And you know what? Everything was just fine.

I go to yoga because I love to go to yoga. I do it for myself. Yeah, I go a lot. But some people run everyday or walk everyday or do some kind of exercise everyday. Technically, I’m not very special here. But am I going to apologize for my practice? No, I am not.

I do my yoga for myself, and I do it with no apologies.

 

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Why Am I Doing This?

Ok…I did it. I actually did my 100 day challenge! As of today (May 11th), I am actually on Day 104. My plan is to simply go everyday unless there is some good reason I cannot. Eventually I will have to get on a plane to take a vacation and this will come to an end. But for now, I go if I can.

In starting my 100-Day challenge (way back in January), I was very curious as to what I would experience. Over the course of time, I encountered two main themes that ran through my challenge, and today I will share one of them with you. The first theme I encountered was the question, why am I doing this?

Now, this question isn’t what it seems on the surface. I never asked myself why I was doing a 100-Day challenge. I had been wanting to do one for a couple of years! I had the motivation and interest to see where it would take me. No, what I noticed I was doing was starting to question what I did/did not do on the mat and why.

Let’s start with a simple example in SH2K. I’ve had a problem lately where I am cramping up in SH2K. I think I understand the issue now -it’s about my form and I’m working on it. But, when I was in SH2K and got a cramp, what did I do? I came out of the posture.

So the question might look like this:

Question: Why did I just come out of SH2K?

Answer: Because I have a cramp.

Analysis of Answer: That’s a reasonable thing to do.

This is how triangle looks at me. I swear.

This is how triangle looks at me. I swear.

That was an easy example. Now, let’s take something else – how about triangle? Ha ha. You know I love me some triangle. Now the question could look like this:

Question: Why did I come out of triangle early?

Answer: Because I hate staying in it.

Analysis of Answer: That’s not a great reason but high five for being honest and self-aware (I am constantly finding reasons to give myself mental high-fives when I am on the mat)!

This could also evolve into something like this in Eagle:

Question: Do I really need to come out of Eagle?

Answer: No. I can hold on for a little longer. I just want to come out. I don’t need to come out.

Analysis of Answer: Looking good!

One of the themes then that ran through my challenge were these conversations I had with myself, and I had them pretty much constantly. Obviously sometimes I did fall out of postures, and I didn’t have time to give any thought to such conversation. But if I felt myself starting to come out, I tried to catch myself and ask myself why. Why was I coming – or thinking about coming – out of the posture?

Of course sometimes things went as in my example with Eagle. I understood that I didn’t need to come out. I wasn’t falling out. I wasn’t cramping. I wasn’t dizzy. No real reason to come out. I might have been uncomfortable, and I would acknowledge this, but being uncomfortable isn’t a reason to come out of a posture. I had to learn to sit with my discomfort.

Was I perfect? Heck no. Not even close. Like I said, sometimes I came out because I was uncomfortable and didn’t feel like engaging with the discomfort. Did I face myself down about this? Absolutely. Anytime you see me come out of a posture – if it’s not an obvious fall out – feel free to ask me why. I should know, and I won’t lie to you.

I do hope (and expect) that this theme will continue to evolve. I expect that it will continue to evolve in my practice, but I also hope that it will start to show itself in my daily life outside the hot room. I haven’t found a direct connection yet, but I suspect over time it will seep in, and I am excited about how it could impact my life.

For now, the next time you want to come out of a posture ask yourself why. Take a minute to explore that reason and see if you think it’s legit. And if it’s not legit, if you come out because you simply don’t like the posture, be honest with yourself.

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Yoga, Party of Two

Just a little under a year ago, I had a yoga class where I was the only student. Well, last week, it came close to happening again. The situation was almost identical to the year before. I arrived to class straight from my office getting there shortly after 4:00 for a 4:30 class. I was the first person there, but that didn’t seem strange given my early arrival.

I was tired on this day. It was Day 77/100, and I thought I would just take a nap before class started. But before I did, I realized that class might just be me and the one other person who showed up. And it was.

It's a yoga party!

It’s a yoga party!

We agreed to keep the fans off, and honestly they were never needed. At the end of class the ratio was 106/33% so it was fine (but I think we all sweated all over the place!). The instructor joined us and did a silent class. Those are fun.

Despite how much fun these classes can be, I had some concerns. With only two other people practicing alongside me I felt the need to do as much as I could if not more. But I wasn’t sure what all I had to bring to the table. After all, the 70’s have been very unpredictable in terms of what they bring. I really didn’t want to be dying on the floor.

Thankfully, I pulled through it. However, I would like to add that while the 70’s are only a period of 10 days they seemed more like 1000. Seriously, how can the last 30 classes be so damn hard? I keep thinking I should feel like I am on easy street but time seems to be moving backwards. The first 30 classes were nothing. But ever since I have hit class 50 it has been all kinds of different struggles. Some days I don’t want to show up. Other days I don’t want to do the postures. Other days I am flat on my back praying for death. I am thankful when I have a class that is just OK. Really – I am happy to have and will gratefully accept a mediocre class.

But now I am in the 80’s and although I have less than 20 days to go until I hit my mark it’s not seeming like it’s going to get there anytime soon. But if this wasn’t challenging me then what would be the point, right? I signed on for a challenge and I am in the thick of it.

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The Unpredictable 70’s

Today is Day 76/100 in my challenge. If the 50’s were terrible, and the 60’s mediocre, then I have to say that the 70’s are unpredictable. They started off well but quickly went downhill from there, and then back up again, and then also somewhere in-between. I just don’t know what I’m getting with this set of days, and that’s ok.

In the early 70’s I had one of those classes were I was pretty much done fairly early on. I’d like to say that I was done at triangle, but really I went down at balancing stick, and technically I wanted to call it a day when we got to standing bow. Those are the longest and most painful classes ever. EVER.

And I still wish I could offer y’all up something in terms of how my postures have improved – even just one for goodness sake – but I can’t. I can’t tell that anything it any better. Someone may see something different in me. Sometimes we fail to see our own improvements, but I don’t think that this challenge is about the postures for me at all. I think this time it’s focusing in on my mental and emotional side as well as helping me with my concentration.

uncomfortableOh yeah – and it’s also forcing me to accept things I don’t want to accept in the hot room. For example, take the day I couldn’t balance on one leg at all. AT ALL. In SH2K I couldn’t even raise my leg up and bend down to grab my foot. I’d fall out way before I even got my foot. Didn’t matter what side we were on. Didn’t matter what set, and it didn’t matter what the posture was. If it required me to balance on one leg that day I was out. I tried. Again and again I tried, and again and again I had zero balance.

The next day I was back to normal. But for that one class I had to learn to accept that my body wasn’t going to do what I thought I should expect it to do.

I keep thinking this challenge is almost over, but apparently that is not the case. I thought the last 30 days would fly by and be a cake walk, but the Universe is here to remind me that I really don’t get a say in how these things go.

Uncharted Territory

I have officially crossed into uncharted waters with my practice. On Saturday, I hit Day 67/100 making this now my longest running yoga streak. My previous streak was 66 days which I did about three years ago.

I realized that Tuesday will be day 70, and then I will only have 30 more days left. Suddenly the challenge seems like it is flying by. Suddenly it seems doable and attainable. I think this 100-Day thing is actually going to happen.

I’m really glad to have the 50’s behind me. They totally sucked. However, the 60’s have been only marginally better. I’ve already spent about three days of them sitting out a lot of stuff and someone described me as looking “wrecked” on Day 67. That was probably a fair assessment since I pretty much called it a day around Triangle.

Yes.

Yes.

Once I hit 100 days my plan is to just continue going until something comes up that prevents me from going to class (actually, my first plan of action is to treat myself to a giant pile of nachos). This has been my biggest take away from the entire challenge – just go to class. Even if you are not doing a challenge, sometimes just going to class can be a challenge in and of itself. When you think you can’t go stop and assess yourself. Why are you thinking you can’t go? If the answer is because you don’t feel like it then you should probably go. If you are feeling overwhelmed, then you should probably go. Even when I am pressed for time I find that going to class helps with everything else in my life.

In the end, only you can determine if you should go to class or not but at the very least engage with yourself when you think you’re not going to go. Have a conversation with yourself and try to determine why you are not going. Be aware. Even if you skip class because you just didn’t feel like doing it, the next best thing you can do for yourself is be aware that’s what you did. Then find time to sit and explore that decision a bit.

No matter how good or crappy (and there seems to be plenty of crappy going around right now!) my classes are, this whole experience is definitely increasing my self awareness. I’m more aware of myself physically, mentally, and emotionally. I’m much better at not being reactive to things (better – not awesome). I’m noticing a great ability to focus on and off the mat. This challenge is hard, but it has been worth it.

 

Do You Live Here?

A couple of days ago (Day 59 in the challenge), someone walked past me at the studio and said, “Do you live here?”

“Well,” I responded, “today is Day 59 so yeah. I kinda do.”

The next day I was in the lobby after class getting my stuff together to go home. A woman remarked that every day she was at the studio she realized that was also at the studio. I explained to her that I was doing a 100-Day challenge and had just completed Day 60.

She responded something to the effect that this was an amazing, inspiring thing to do.

I thanked her but then said that the trick was to simply get up and come to the studio. Then go home and get back up and come in the next day. Then repeat that process 100 times.

I looked up "amazing" and found this. Let's go here.

I looked up “amazing” and found this. Let’s go here.

Not really that difficult when you think about it like that is it?

And yet, some days it is. It really, really is.

Why is that?

I made it through the first 30 days without a care in the world. They were easy to get through (I didn’t say all the classes were great, but I wasn’t focused so much on the challenge at that point). Once I hit Day 50 is when things start to get difficult. The 50’s were a mess. A complete mess. And now I find myself focused on numbers and counting which is kinda silly. The days will come as they come.

But I have found that from this point on it is helpful to think of things in 10’s – Day 60, Day 70, and so on, and I have it marked on my calendar as such right up to Day 100. I think I just need an anchor every 10 days. I think it will help me not focus so much on the numbers in-between.

I still haven’t crossed my personal record – 66 days in a row – but will be there soon. Today is Day 62. In just a few short days I will cross into uncharted waters. And that should really be interesting.

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This Challenge Sucks

There I was – Day 54. It was the kind of day where I really, really wished I was not doing a challenge. I didn’t want to be there. I didn’t want to have to show up. I just wanted to curl up and take a nap. At home. This challenge totally sucked as far as I was concerned.

I was exhausted in every sense of the word. But of course, there I was at the 3:00 class on a Sunday. Had to get my yoga in. Can’t stop the challenge because I am tired and don’t want to be at the studio. Those are not reasons. Those would be excuses.

Of course I knew that I shouldn’t have any preconceptions about what class would be like, and I really didn’t. I didn’t worry that it would be awful or fantastic or anything in between. I was too tired. I fell easily into acceptance for what lay ahead.

I stood up on my mat like a good little trooper when the first breathing exercise started. And then it hit me. It was going to be one of those classes.

Sending love and some sucky classes your way.

Sending love and some sucky classes your way.

Thanks Universe.

We were about halfway through the first set of the first breathing exercise when I realized I was ready to sit down. I just didn’t see how it was going to be possible to get through it all. It also didn’t seem possible to sit on my mat for the whole class. Nothing seemed possible.

But I hung in there. I made it to the second set of eagle before I started going down – and believe me, I felt triumphant to have gotten that far.

Then, class was a blur. I sort of did the standing series. Sort of. Even when I did a posture it wasn’t very good, but it was probably all I had to give at the moment. The floor series wasn’t much better either.

And yet, the weirdest thing was that as I progressed through class I felt less and less exhausted. By the end of class I felt much more awake and alert. Not enough to do another class or anything, but I felt so much better (and a lot less grumpy!).

Of course this challenge has it days when it completely and totally sucks. Anyone who’s ever done a challenge knows that! That’s why it’s a challenge. Engaging and pushing forward is difficult. It would have been easier to take a nap on the couch.

Following through with going to class? Hard.

Worth pushing through? Definitely.

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