Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

My 40-day Yoga Challenge - 2 days to go

Photo courtesy of istolethetv
Why would I, after practicing yoga 4 - 7 times/week for two years, suddenly decide to do a 40-day yoga challenge? I already practice a lot of yoga, right?

Well, a yoga retreat on Galiano Island is the final draw prize. That's one reason I decided to do the challenge. I feel a little guilty that I only chose to participate this time because I want to win the retreat. Although I never win in draws. So maybe I shouldn't feel so guilty, since I recognize that I have a miniscule chance of winning. In fact, I know I won't win. But gosh darn it, I plan to at least be entered in the draw.

Reason two - I was curious as to whether a 7-day-a-week practice would be different from the 5-6 days/week I've recently been doing. Already I appreciate yoga immensely and can't imagine ever not practicing. In fact, I plan on taking the Semperviva yoga teacher training program next year. But what would a daily practice teach me?

Days 1 - 30: To be honest, the first thirty days were easy. My biggest challenge was trying to fit in two classes on the weekend instead of my usual one.

Day 31: I got sick. Sore throat, sneezing, sniffling, dizzy spells. Awesome. I was in denial the first couple days. When I started being unable to sleep because my throat hurt when I lay down, I decided to accept the facts. Now I had a decision to make, and this is where the 40-day challenge came in to play.

I could quit. I was sick. Yoga is about understanding your body and taking care of it. It would be perfectly acceptable to take a few days break and allow my body the time to heal. That's what my advice to anyone else would be.

I didn't quit. (bad yogini!)I used the challenge as a way to force myself to consider how my daily practice can heal, by adapting my yoga practice to my body's condition. And this for me, is the ultimate beauty of yoga. It's not a sport. It's nurturing, accepting and non-competitive. And the best teachers recognize that.

Case in point, on the day I felt the worst (dizzy spells and snot streams, hurrah!), I went to Dan's class. I went in the evening, when I was not dizzy and not so sneezy and snotty. I planned to meditate while the class was doing asanas. Although I'd seen people doing their own thing in other classes, I'd never done it myself and I felt a little nervous. To my relief, Dan's intro to the class included the invitation "And if you just want to sit still and meditate for the whole class, that's fine too." It was as though he could feel what I needed to hear and he said the words just for me. So I did meditate for most of the class, not stressing my body in any way but healing it through breath and a tiny bit of movement at the end of class.

The following day, I did the same thing. After class the teacher came up to me afterwards just to check that I was alright. Such a sweet man! This is Semperviva yoga studio, this is yoga, this is the yoga community - compassionate, nurturing, challenging.

How does this relate to writing? If we see writing as a practice, then the connection is clear. If your body's needs change day-to-day, then your mind's needs do as well. And while I agree that getting your bum in the chair every day is the first step to writing, accepting that your output may be different from yesterday or last week and not beating yourself up about it, is just as important. We will make progress if we do what we can every day. And the only way we are going to WANT to practice every day is if we feel gratitude for what we do, no matter how much, and if we accept daily change and work with it.

A daily practice that inspires, challenges and nurtures us is valuable, no matter what it is. The Semperviva 40-day yoga challenge has motivated me to stick with a daily yoga practice and has made me feel good about myself and what I can accomplish.

Day 38: Feelin' groovy!

What is your daily practice and what does it do for you?

April 21 update: I completed the challenge! Yay! Didn't win the retreat but I am so glad I did it - I feel fantastic. Day 41, 42, 43, 44 . . . coming up!