Day 66: Did I Really Just Do That?

It’s been 66 days of yoga. They have come and gone. I learned a lot from this challenge, but here are some sticking points to end it on:

1. Set Your Intention. At the end of a class, it is common for an instructor to say,”Set your intention to come back soon.” This challenge taught me how important setting intentions are. For example, I set my intention over a week ago to do a double on the last day of my challenge. When I left the studio after the first class today, I thought, “It’s a good thing I already said I would do a double. Otherwise there is no way I would come back.” Set your intention to go to class. Be reasonable with yourself, but do no be afraid to push yourself.

2. The Days Will Come and Go. 66 days seemed like a long time back when I was on day 5. The truth is, time will pass no matter what. These 66 days were gonna happen. Might as well happen with the yoga.

3. Let it Happen. The day will bring what the day will bring. Class will be whatever class will be. The yoga hole will get you whenever it knows you need to spend time in it.

4. No Expectations. Just don’t have them. My first class today was not great, but my second class was amazing. Just go with the flow and try to live in the moment. My challenge taught me this over and over again.

Today’s Double

I am so glad I decided to do a double to end my challenge. For me, it was a nice way to end it. My 9:00 class didn’t go great. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t great. When I started the second class at 3:00 I could tell from the start that I was going to fly through it, and I did!

The best part was standing head to knee. It was a little over a year ago that I was able to kick out and lock my left leg in standing head to knee. However, I struggled to get my head on my knee. Oh, every now and then it would happen for a second. During the challenge I was getting better and better with it. It’s a competition posture so I have been doing extra work on it outside of class.

Then came my second class of the day. First set, second side. Remember, in the first set this posture lasts one minute. Here’s the first thing to know about the first set with kicking out my left leg: I never fell out. In fact, I think I held it for longer than a minute.

I kicked out. I got my head on my knee. And then I held it. And I held it. And I freaking held it. I was in some strange yoga zone. At some point, the instructor said something like, “If you want to see what a beautiful standing head to knee looks like, look at Leigh.” And I am pretty sure everyone came out and stared at me. And I still held it. Then I finally came out.

Standing head to knee has always been my absolute favorite posture since the very beginning. I have always wanted to have this moment. I ended my challenge on this moment. Of course I did do the rest of class. You all know what I mean! It was an amazing way to go out.

Tomorrow will be strange. No yoga. But I will pack my nailmat with me. I will be doing camels each day. I will be practicing the competition postures here and there. I hope to be back in time for class Friday afternoon.

To sum it all up:

In 66 days of yoga I did….

67 beginning classes

5 fight club sessions

One major kick-ass standing head to knee posture

I can see halfway down the wall when we do the first backbend

Worst days were 8, 22, and 56

Best days: All of them including 8, 22, and 56

These 66 days have been the best gift I have ever given myself. Thank you for joining in with me. See you all here on the 14th for more Bikram Yoga adventures!

 

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Day 64: The Case for Doing a Double

Two days and three more classes left in the challenge (remember I signed myself up for a double on Sunday). So far two people at my studio – who are not teachers- have said they would do the double with me. I know for one of those people it’s her first double ever.

She’ll be great. I hope she’s not worried about it.

The first time I ever did a double, more than a year ago, it was awful. Not physically awful, but mentally awful. I spent the entire first class freaked out that I was going to take a second class later in the day. I spent the second class freaked out that I was taking a second class.  Nothing physically bad happened. It was all in my head.

The message: If you are properly hydrated and fed, you can do two classes in one day just fine. Don’t let your brain stop you.

And if you have never done a double before I strongly encourage you to do so. My recommendation is to give yourself space between the first and second class. On Sunday, I am taking the 9:00 and 3:00. That’s a good amount of space. I wouldn’t do another class before 3:00.

Why do a double?

Well, the answer is not to torture yourself. In the second class, you will be amazed at what your body can do. It won’t be anything at all like the first class you took. I honestly think I should start working more doubles into my regular yoga schedule now that the challenge is winding down. But that’s a competition thing. For a non-competitor, I would say do it for the benefit of seeing how your body is different in the second class. Do it because you can. Do it because it’s tough (either mentally or physically). Just doing one double will give you some new insights into your practice.

Day 63: Dear NailMat, I Love You

When I said I wanted to compete at regionals one of the first things I was told was to get a nailmat. No one cared what brand I got just as long as I had one.

Do you have one?

We have one at my studio that has been hanging on the wall for sale for months. Here’s an idea of what they look like:

Each one of those white disks are filled with little spikes. If you walk up to one and touch it, it will feel very sharp and not at all like something you want to lay on. I know. I touched the one at our studio a few times and wondered who in their right mind would lay down on it.

These mats are typically described as acupressure mats and are supposed to relieve pain anywhere you may have it. Does it work? OMG – yes. Major yes.

I have been using my mat for a good three weeks now. At first, I could maybe last ten minutes on it. Now I do 20-30 each night. Until today, I have used the mat just for the sake of using it. I haven’t been super sore – well, that’s not true I’ll get back to that in a second – since I bought it.

Today, I couldn’t get home from fight club fast enough. As I was driving I could feel my lower  back tighten up and start to hurt. I got home, threw as much gross yoga stuff as I could into the washer, popped two Advil, and raced to the nailmat. As soon as I laid down on it the pain almost disappeared. I stayed on it for 30 minutes and then rolled off it and slept for another hour. When I woke up there was no more back pain.

My take on the nailmat is that it’s fabulous and worth the price. More extensive information can be found here.

So back to the one previous time I was super sore. Generally, I got sore in my lower back particularly after a day at fight club. Last Friday I woke up to find that my butt muscles were very sore. Everyday after fight club is a new experience. I can never be sure what will hurt. So I sat on my mat. Did it help? Yes, it did.

Do you have a nailmat? What do you think of it?

 

 

 

 

 

Day 62: What’s In the Yoga Hole?

I’m back!  No, I’m not back to blogging. Clearly I never left my blog. Nope. I am finally out of that big ‘ol yoga hole I feel into somewhere around Day 56. It’s taken me a solid five days to climb out of it.

I have now done two stints in the yoga hole. Each one seems to least 4-5 days. I know. Fun, right?

What is in this hole?

My second time through I actually figured out what is in the darn thing. It’s very easy to get distracted while in the yoga hole. You feel like vomiting (a lot).You get dizzy (a lot). You are tired (a lot). Basically, the yoga hole takes everything bad about the practice and adds A LOT to the end of it. BUT,all these awful things are not really in the yoga hole. These awful things are distractions. I know. It only took me about 10 days of my practice to figure this out. But if you haven’t had the chance to experience the yoga hole yet then I am saving you some time when you fall in it.

Don’t worry. You’ll fall in. The yoga hole will decide your fate.

I am pretty sure we all fall in it even if we are not in a challenge. It’s just that with a challenge you know that it’s only a matter of time before you fall into it. I already knew to be aware of it, generally speaking. I am pretty sure I have stumbled in and out of it on occasion during my practice before the challenge. Ever have a run of bad classes? Not one bad class, but several? That’s the yoga hole my friends. That one bad class you had in isolation? You stuck your toe in it. The run of them? You were swimming in it.

But of course I still haven’t told you what’s in the hole. Don’t worry. I’m gonna tell you. On Saturday. I cooked up something nice for you all for Saturday’s post. Part of that post will tell you what’s in the yoga hole. If you’ve done a stint in it you should know the answer. If you don’t, you will smack yourself in the head when I tell you. It’s so obvious.

Yeah – so obvious that it took me ten grueling days to figure it out (not counting all the time before the challenge when I fell in and didn’t know it).

In the meantime just know this:

The yoga hole is not a fun place to be, but it is a necessary place to visit. It’s not like visiting an awful relative for the sake of playing nice. No. This is one of those places you have to visit in order to kick things up a notch. It’s like taking bad medicine. The yoga hole is all for your own good.

Having said that,I will tell you that when you come out of the hole it’s awesome. The sun shines brighter. The room doesn’t feel as hot. You don’t sweat entire oceans. Your postures are even better (well, maybe not triangle….).

You don’t decide when you get to go into the hole. You don’t decide when you get to come out. The best you can do is try to hang out and ride it out. And pay attention to what happens to you during and after. Yep.I said it. Go into the crappy yoga hole and take notes while you’re there. Then tell us about it.

Day 61: Why Compete?

There’s a lot of buzz in our studio about the November 4th North Carolina Regional Championships that my studio is hosting. As a result, I, or someone next to me, will be asked, “Are you competing?” When I say, “Yes, are you?” I typically get a “Well….I don’t know….I don’t know that I can do it….I’m thinking about it….I just don’t know.”

There could be many reasons why someone might not know if they should compete or not. In writing this post, I’m only thinking about one possible reason someone might say no or be on the fence. And that reason is you think you won’t be very good/can’t do it.

My response: Don’t think like that. Don’t even worry about what you can’t do or if you’ll be very good. I don’t think that has to be the point of these competitions.

For example, my floor bow (one of the required competition postures) is medicore at best. I can easily point you to four competitors who have a much nicer floor bow than me and who will likely score higher than me. If I were to get caught up in that it would be depressing, and I wouldn’t go on. Instead, I enjoy the beauty of their postures when I get the chance to see them.

Do you know what the wonderful thing about competing is? First, it gives you the chance to think more deeply about your practice. You really get to pay close attention to a handful of postures in a different way. Second, it’s an opportunity for you to go some place new with your practice. Preparing for competition will push you. How much it pushes you is really up to you. Let’s keep it all in perspective.  Is it your first time doing a yoga competition? Then try making the focus on you and what you can achieve.  That’s my best advice.

I’ve heard multiple times that people are nervous about entering because they don’t want to come in last place. Who cares? That’s not me having a bad attitude. For me, the place I come in isn’t important. What’s important is everything leading up to the actual competition. If you can focus on the postures and yourself, and not others (including the judges), then I think you’ll get so much out of it. We’ll all all leave the competition so much better for the work we did.

At my studio, we hear that this competition is really a demonstration of where each of us is with our practice. However, most of us have grown up in a culture where the purpose of a competition isn’t to show others where we are but to pound everyone else into submission and take first place. That is a hard thing to let go of. See if you can let it go just a little bit and open yourself up to the possibility that a competition could really be about you, what you can accomplish, and where you can go.

The Big 6-0!

Wooo-hoooo! Sixty days in a row. No doubles (to make up for a missed class). Four days of advanced classes in addition to the 60 beginning classes. Holy moses.

I still have seven more classes to do in six days plus one advanced. I’m ending the challenge on Sunday with a double and going out with a bang! I’m currently trying to convince people to either: (a) do a double with me on Sunday from wherever you live or (b) come to the 9:00 and 3:00 with me in Raleigh if you’re in the area. If you’re new to the practice and still want to come just pick one of those times and come. I swear I will be there. Even if I am sick I will be there.

So – who wants to do a double with me on Sunday one way or another? Anyone?

 

Day 59: Crossing Over

Day 59 is here and gone. I’m crossing over into the 60’s tomorrow! Just seven more classes to go and my challenge will be over with. It will be very weird not going to class everyday, but I’ll be on vacation so I think I’ll be occupied.

As I’ve started to near the end I keep coming back to the question of my diet. Before my challenge even started, way back in February, I started to transition to vegetarian eating. Since February, I have only eaten meat four times. It hasn’t always been easy. There have been moments, many moments, when I wanted chicken or a bacon & blue cheese cheeseburger. Such yummy memories.

A year ago, I would have told you that it would be impossible for me to become a vegetarian even for a handful of months. My argument would have been that I loved chicken wings too much to give up. I didn’t want to give them up, and I really believed I was mentally not capable of giving them up.

When I gave up chicken as part of my challenge, I had some tantrums now and then when I was really craving it. I didn’t give in because I knew that my time as a vegetarian was temporary. I could see the end date looming: July 9th I would be free from the dietary constraints I had set for myself in my challenge. I would be free to have some damn chicken.

The question is, do I really want to do that? I certainly haven’t found myself looking forward to eating meat. I haven’t planned any big meat-eating outing.

Not eating meat, eating as a vegetarian, has taught me so much about things I don’t need to eat. Nothing bad has happened to me because I stopped eating meat. In fact, I feel great! Everytime I think about committing to a vegetarian lifestyle I think about a conversation I had with my mother back in February. The idea of not eating meat – on purpose!- seemed to confuse her. She clarified it was just for the challenge. I said that for the moment, yes,it was just something I wanted to do during my challenge. And then she said:

“But you’ll come back when the challenge is over, right?”

It was like I was going to have a far-off adventure with Captain Kirk himself!

Well, I don’t know if I’m coming back. I think I might like where I am for now.

Lately, I find myself pausing and asking myself if I am going to committ to a vegetarian lifestyle

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