I decided to step out of my comfort zone a bit this week and challenge myself a little.
You might think what, only 8 days of not going to the gym? This is a big thing for me. I’m a person that typically works out 5-6 times a week and if I skip more than two days, I start to feel uneasy. So, even though I’ve been a certified Yoga Teacher for a year now, I prefer going to the gym so that I can squeeze in an efficient workout in much faster time, and it gives me a better adrenaline rush. But, this whole process was becoming a bit mechanical and I just wanted to do something about it.
So why the challenge all of a sudden? Three reasons
- I’ve been a person who’s always been comfortable with sitting still and enjoying silence. But, as of lately I haven’t been that individual. I’ve been keeping my mind engaged all the time with a device on my hands, trying to watch tv while being on a cell phone, zoning out of conversations while being sidetracked by a text, less at ease, and feeling like I always need to be doing something. I’ve been aware of this, but I just didn’t make the effort to do something about it. The main reason I avoid doing yoga every day is you have to be completely present for that 1.5 hours that you’re in class. But, its something I just decided I needed to do, and be comfortable with stillness and just focus.
- I’ve been weight training consistently for about 2 months now, and while I’ve noticed results.. there’s a lot of held up tension in my shoulders that’s causing a lot of pain in my forearms/hands. So, I feel like my body needs to slow down a bit and take the time to heal. Plus, it’s always good to change up your routine. I noticed the same results with Yoga a while ago, so thought I’d give it a go again.
- At some point, I’d like to teach consistently. But, in order to be a good teacher for others, I need to be a better one for myself. And, that means pushing myself to slowly move towards uncomfortable poses or ones that take more effort.
Day 1– Saturday, August 26th
Woke up at 6am to go to a primarily Ashtanga class taught by my uncle. The entire hour and a half went by in a flash as I was challenged in the poses and ofcourse had my cousin on my right side giggling and yawning half the time so I was just enjoying that as well. I felt more relaxed and energized even though I woke up super early. I was dreading the idea of an hour and half though. This would mean trying to be alone with my thoughts for quite some time, and I was feeling a bit uncomfortable. But, I was able to zone in completely and forget about the rest.
Day 2– Sunday, August 27th
Umm a little sore? I like feeling sore the next day. It just tells me that I’ve worked out my muscles efficiently and I’m feeling it all the right places. My lats, triceps, hamstrings, and hips were all sore. But, this just proved to me again, that you can get in a really good workout even with yoga. And, you get the breathing benefits too. So, took it slow and did a routine at home, coming up with a sequence myself and adding in more strengthening poses by Morgan who is also known on social media as The Southern Yogi.
Day 3– Monday, August 28th
This is where it gets a little interesting. This entire day I was a little distracted and kept telling myself to let go and not have expectations in the case of a certain instace. There are always situations that come up in life where you try to form an idea of how it will turn out, then you keep dwelling/ thinking and I just really wanted to tell my mind to shut up. I was annoyed that I wasn’t able to be quiet. So I went to class just being in my head. I get to class and my teacher says that today’s intention in the class it to just let go, and leave all of the expectations that you have aside. This happens a lot with this teacher btw, where I am thinking about something and she’ll talk about it in class, or she’ll message me on the side about it. It just proves that certain individuals just have that connectivity. Coming back, the entire sequence that day was around a pose called Hanumanasana. Hanuman stands for the “I can” attitude. If you ever want courage, and strength, in Hinduism it’s always said to pray to Hanuman. Lastly in Savasana, Stacy gave an analogy: just pretend that you are in a garden and you fall into a hammock without trying to fight. The hammock is still there to protect you and support you so you don’t fall. It gave me a sense of realization that God is like that hammock too. If you let go of all the expectations/restrictions and you just surrender.. He’s not going anywhere but he’s always there to envelop you in that love and support. It was definitely an interesting day. Received all the physical benefits as well as some good teachings as well.
Day 4– Tuesday, August 29th
Came back from work with my forearms and wrists hurting a little too much and I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to get through the class. Part of me, also was tired and I wanted to just skip it. But, my sister and I went. The class was centered around poses that would help release the tension in the shoulders and how to help release the pressure in the hands/wrists if it ever hurts 🙂 My day was made again. This time, I was asking for some physical relief and I got it, as well as an excellent practice.
Day 5– Wednesday, August 30th
This was an at home day. I really wasn’t feeling like going to the studio.. and I started freaking out about my achy arms/hands. Carpal tunnel is a real thing people.
Did a great 40 minute practice and was fairly off of my hands, but took time to tune into my body. Again, I was a bit restless with my thoughts and scattered, but I made it a point to put away my phone after 7pm, and I felt lighter. I felt like I wasn’t obligated to check social media and operate in another world.
Day 6– Thursday, August 31st
Took a yoga therapy class today. My wrists/forearms/shoulders were hurting pretty bad and this class was perfect as we learned how to release fascia. Much much needed and it was relieving too.
Day 7– Friday, September 1st
I feel leaner, and my shirts fit loser too. I feel like instead of having bulky, man type of muscle, I feel toned and leaner (lost some body fat too– measured this). These are usually the physically benefits of yoga that I have reaped before for my body, and it’s amazing since I lie on the more shorter end of the spectrum in terms of height. Decided to go for an at home practice and it just felt good to breathe deep, and stretch after a long work week.
Day 8– Saturday, September 2nd
This was probably one of the worst days to try this, but oh well. Went in for an hour and a half of a Ashtanga primary series class while it was 110 degrees outside. But, it was an amazing class, and as usual Stephanie nailed it out of the park. I always feel like such a badass when I practice Ashtanga. This style of yoga requires an immense amount of strength in the core, and shoulders/arms, and I always feel like I am a little closer to reaching my goals when I take the time to do this practice. I did notice that I wasn’t anxious about being in an hour and a half class and the time didn’t make me feel afraid.
So, how did I feel at the end of the 8 days?
A lot calmer, and more aware. That may sound bit nuts to those who don’t practice yoga, but there is this heightened sense of body/mind awareness that comes with a consistent practice. I know exactly what to eat/how much/what I feel like eating, and I end up craving less of the bad stuff. Mentally, I am less reactive. I have always believe its our reactions to situations/people that can make or break that instance. And decisions– there’s a certain type of clarity that comes with practice and it helps me to make better decisions. But, with anything, to see lasting results a consistency in practice is required. Yoga, while it looks easy, is really challenging. That’s part of the reason I stay away from practicing everyday. It takes time and patience to get to the more challenging poses and sometimes I lack that. But, if I want to be a good teacher, then I need to be a better teacher for myself. So, I’ve decided to make a commitment to myself to practice everyday even if it is just for 10 minutes. One of the best things was I received what I had asked for at the beginning of the day. There are certain days, I practice meditation and set an intention for the day, but there were other days when I felt as though certain people/situations came looking for me without even me asking. This again, usually happens when I am more in tune with myself. So, besides making a commitment to practice, I’ve been trying to make a commitment with people as well. I want to be that person that listens patiently, responds patiently, and just can be present when people are talking to me– regardless of whether its a topic i’m interested in or not. It’s the time that you spend with the other person that makes the whole thing more valuable. This whole thing was different, but very much worth it.