Archive for the ‘my life's adventure’ Category

The Yoga Challenge: Day 10

June 17, 2009

I was a little pessimistic about my chances of making it through class today, even though I would only have 4 more days to complete my self-impose yoga challenge

Thankfully, it was a basics class and it was crowded. Meaning, I would do only 60 minutes with no handstands and moving at a slower pace. 

Also, as I fumbled to stand on one foot, hook my forefinger around the big toe on the other foot while straightening that lifted leg to the side, the yoga instructor said, “As long as you’re taking a step on the path, that’s all that matters. It doesn’t matter how big a step it is, because the path is endless.”

Hearing this in any other context would have frustrated or confused me. At this point, it was great comfort and encouragement. It gave me the will to get through another class.

There are many instances when the instructor gives instructions or encouragement that I don’t fully understand, but nonetheless get. There’s the instruction to “open the heart,” which I do somehow (I think). And there’s talk of “breathing to” different places in the body. Don’t know what this means, but it feels like I’m doing it.

It could just be the exhaustion wearing down my rationality and demand for complete comprehension. Yoga is a zen koan for the body?

Tomorrow I try forest yoga for the first time. In a 90 minute class. It will be a rough 4 days. But yoga-rough.

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The Yoga Challenge: Day 9

June 16, 2009

Things are not looking up, yoga-wise.

Today was my most difficult day. It was up to 82 degrees in Madison. I was (probably) the oldest and (definitely) the malest member in class. Having never taken a yoga class before, I have been doing 60 to 90 minutes of yoga a day for 8 straight days. 

We begin with some aerobic-type dancing, which … aside from the weirdness of being the oldest dude bouncing around a room of ladies … has me in a sweaty downpour 5 minutes into class. I can usually enjoy the first 15 minutes in relative dryness.

And then we happen go through the most difficult poses for me: back bends, handstands, dolphin pose, handstands from dolphin pose. No big deal really, since I can’t hold any of them on the slick my mat quickly became. 

The good news: Only once I felt a cramp coming on. Maybe I am getting more flexible. Although I am feeling some new sensations in my shoulder I probably shouldn’t.

There’s something in my self-imposed challenge that is not exactly in keeping with the spirit of yoga practice.

Overzealous ambition and deadline pressures are the very things you’re supposed to leave behind during practice. I’ve constituted my practice of them. I invoke what I should be detaching.

And perhaps it’s just that yoga practice is not exactly in keeping with my character. I’m competitive, driven, goal-oriented, etc., and it doesn’t seem yoga rewards monomaniacal rigor. I tend to be more in mind, than body, and I’m to seamlessly connect the 2 in yoga practice. 

These are probably the very reasons I should be doing yoga, even though it’s getting tougher. 

But I just got to make 5 more days …

The Yoga Challenge: Day 7

June 13, 2009

I’m on day 7 of my self-imposed 14-day yoga challenge.

It didn’t start as a challenge. I’m in Madison for a few weeks, and the yoga studio Jewel in the Lotus has this great introductory offer: $20 gets you as many yoga sessions you want for 2 weeks. 

I had done some yoga with my eastern-philosophical, mixed-martial-artist Bulgarian friend. But these sun salutations where just used as a warm-up to fighting each other. And in any case, it was difficult to get my breathing down knowing I would soon be eating Eastern European foot.

Nonetheless, I could unbeautifully get my way through a Sun Salutation A. But I’ve never done the poses longer than a half hour. The sessions at Jewel run anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half. 

Still, I do a daily run of about 5 to 8 miles. I have a pretty good and regular weight training routine. I thought this would be a good way to break up my days in Madison. 

An uncomfortable personal detail: I sweat a lot. Always have. Even when in tip-top shape in high school when I managed to go through both football and soccer conditioning back-to-back. My sweat pores just open up at the slightest provocation of exertion. It’s an inheritance from my overheated polish peasant farmhand ancestors.  

So although I expected some sweat, I wasn’t expecting the ensuing downpour. It’s already difficult to properly hold a pose when starting off, and it’s not any easier when your yoga mat becomes a (kinda gross) Slip ‘N Slide.

Picture 35Try holding a downward dog on this.

Day 1 was a bit of a humbling disaster.  And I’m not one to taking humbling disasters lightly. So I retroactively posed the challenge: do one session a day, every day for 2 weeks. 

I’m on day 7 and I can say I exist in a state of the euphoric soreness. Core-related parts of my body that I never really focused on are getting a new undivided (and perhaps unwanted) attention.

The Jewel in the Lotus teachers have been extremely patient and helpful. I can’t imagine they look forward to dealing with a sweaty dude everyday, but they’ve done a ton to improve my posing, movements, flexibility, and breathing.

At the beginning of this morning’s class, I had the sudden fear that I was not going to make it. My lower back was still warm from the evening class and I just felt like I had no juice. 

But today was the best. I managed back bends, hand stands, and for the first time, a bakasana.

Picture 36I’m sorta able to do something like this now.

I even got a compliment on my progress. Things are looking up, yoga-wise.