30-Day Challenge

If you’ve known me for more than a month and I haven’t gone somewhere that’s a pretty rare month in my life. I’m known in my circle of friends as The Wanderer, The One Who Can’t Stay Put, The Commitiphobe. I like to move, I dance around the world soaking in as much as I possibly can. So when I committed to the 30-day PoYoMo yoga challenge I kind of laughed at myself. Can I really do this? Generally when I say I’m going to do something, I put my head down and do it.

           

Yoga has been in and out of my life for years. Recently the practice has been more in that out. Sure, 30 days of yoga, I can do that! Unknowingly to myself it was easier in some ways and way way way harder in others. I knew I wouldn’t make it to the studio every day so I stocked up on Baron Baptiste DVDs, Jillian Michael meltdowns and easy flow Giaim vinyasas to mix up my home practice. Amanda and Jared’s classes that I attended were awesome, but what I didn’t expect was my home practice to flourish.

            The idea of doing yoga at home, by myself was daunting. Honestly, I felt stupid. It didn’t seem real if I wasn’t surrounded by the amazing bodies that attend hot yoga. The heat building in my bedroom by my own breath seemed labor-some and lame. But practice by practice I felt myself improve. I bended into poses at home and then bent further as Jared’s class pushed me to try new things.

The first time I got into Crow pose I looked around to see if anyone noticed, I then fell. But then I laughed. Acknowledgment of a pose is not what I should be looking for. I laughed because I realized that mid success and smiled as my body fell, when I got up to try again I smiled brighter. My home practice became mine. It became more real every time I set my mat down.

            I practiced yoga for 34 days in a row. At home, at the studio, sometimes after a few drinks I did a few vinyasas, I led a group of friends through some salutations when we visited the beach. Not every practice was perfect, but I earned each day by moving my body. Each practice led to learning something new about myself, improving my practice and staying committed. As my body improved I noticed my mind shifting too; instead of being annoyed and frustrated at work, I’d breathe, take note of the situation and find something positive in it. I was becoming one of those people. And I liked it.

            The support of the studio, the yogis, and even the facebook updates helped keep me accountable. However, the best thing I found through out the month of September was my own motivation and commitment to myself. No one was forcing me to drip sweat for an hour, no one was giving me a prize at the end. The prize was completion, the prize was knowing that I did it on my own and with support. I felt pride and strength at the end. I continue to practice because I continue to see myself grow.

ImageImage

The Ominous Fin

I always wondered what it would be like to stop moving. To stay still and not fidget.  There are animals that live their life waiting and in hiding; camouflaged by a shell of strategic colors and patterns, sharp teeth ready to grab lunch once it comes near enough–the animal goes unnoticed until it’s too late for the prey. Or there are animals that are hiding, not to attack but to stay safe. They blend in, close there eyes and hope the long toothed predator passes by with out blinking an eye in their direction. 

Some animals, like sharks, must continue moving in order to stay alive. I read somewhere that in order to breath they never stop moving. The oxygen in the water has to filter through their gills by them moving forward. Always chasing, or running, or just swimming along–they are always going somewhere.

Taking on the lifestyle approach of a shark seems evil. Sharks always play the villain. Movies and television tell us to fear the shark. To steer clear of that ominous fin that, for all we know, could be just going our for a breath of fresh ‘air’. He’s moving. He’s just moving forward to live.  How can we learn from this shark?

Keep moving. Keep going forward. Keep progressing. Keep challenging. Keep trying new things. Don’t fear change, challenge or different scenery.

Breath deep while you’re moving. Sit still and breath in the new experience of meditation. Fill your lungs with the opportunity of holding a Warrior II a bit longer.  Explore the the sensation of a new food rolling over your tongue. Gasp for breath as you laugh the night away with new friends. Love the feeling of crunching leaves under you feet as you walk through the woods breathing in the autumn colors. Move forward. Progress. Enjoy. Slow down.

 

 

Push

I cried yesterday. It was a good thing I was at hot Yoga and sweat was already dripping down my body, leaking from every pore, soaking my clothes and mat. We were in bridge pose and Jared was making us do yet another one. Knowing it would eventually end we obliged and pushed our hips to the ceiling, breathed in and out. As I watched my rib cage rise and fall I heard Jared say “The pose doesn’t begin until you really want it to end. That’s when you push through. That’s when it begins” (Or something like that, my brain was foggy, my body was tired, but whatever the exact words were, I connected. It clicked.)

Image

Tears that I pretended were beads of sweat welled up and dripped down my face when I took this yoga advice and connected it to my life. I’ll be honest right now: I’m struggling. I’m 26. I’m closer to 30 than I am to 20 and I have no clue what I want out of this amazing life I have been given. I’m lucky. I have supportive friends and family that are not only cheerleaders but are reality checks too. But having little direction is hard. Right now I wait tables, I helped my friend organize a race that wasn’t quite as successful as we hoped. 

I think my pose is beginning now. I want to give up and let go and lower my hips back to my mat, right now. This, this moment, this year, this time in my life is when I need to focus my ujjaiyi breath, pick a drishti and thrust my hips up, make my arms strong and open up to my full expression. What this means, I don’t completely know–but I’m excited to find out.