A Bit of a Stretch - My Yoga Challenge - Week 4
drum roll on the official count...
20 classes in 39 days
I finished it.
It wasn't exactly in what I set out to do, but it's certainly close enough for me.
So now it's time to write up a profound conclusion about what the challenge has meant. I started to brainstorm my profound conclusion by doing a check-in with myself on the 4 things I think yoga tries to work on - mind // heart // body // soul.
I immediately ran into two problems.
First up, I do not do yoga in isolation- so I'm unsure of what part of any life progress I've made is due to yoga. What part of my soul care-taking has been done by yoga, and what part by the sun, and what part by my husband, and what part by that new podcast I love...
Secondly, my mind // heart // body // soul are all kind of the same thing. That is to say, I don't know where does my soul ends and my heart begins. I know when my mind runs away from me running calms it down. I am just one thing made up of many interconnecting things.
After a basically a month of doing yoga essentially every other day I don't have any grand conclusions.
My body still hurts. I still feel sad a lot of the time. I still struggle with feelings of inadequacy.
I still can't really do a real push-up (but I have gotten better at pretending.)
But I don't swear as much at the front row in classes. But I still try to sit near the back.
I've felt less like needing an evening chill out beer.
I have no doubt I would feel worse if I hadn't done the yoga.
but there is one concrete item of straight up achievement.
i have a brand new
hell yassss yoga arms
Now back to the regular business of breaking down these classes.
Right before this last week started I woke up one morning and my low back had some shooting pain. You know, the kind that when you go to bend over you suddenly yelp in pain and think, did that sound just come out of me?
It did. You are in that much pain.
So a few days of rest and Yin it was!
Class 16 -Yin
Kyle came with me to this class and afterward we were both like- well that was boring but what was with the breathing?
This class featured what I am calling an exhibitionist breather.
Allow me to rant at you please, Exhibitionist Breather:
If you are breathing so loudly that the entire class can hear you at all points just stop. Don't stop breathing. Just stop showing off that you're breathing. It's not that big of a deal. Everyone is breathing. You don't need to be breathing better and louder than everyone else for the entire time. Sure, on that shake it off breath, give me all you got. Let me know how relaxed you are. I get it. Sometimes someone really lets out a good sigh and I think, heck yes - next time we're asked to breath like that I'm going to nail it -I'm going to let go and breath so hard.
But save it for the special occasions OK?
My obsession with the breathing may have had to do with the pain in my back. But after the class my back hurt less which meant I had to keep going with the classes.
Class 17 - Yin
OH NO OH NO OH NO.
"My way of teaching yin is to be really silent. I won't say much. I'll let you be alone with your thoughts"
Please anything but that!
Oh guess what. Now suddenly my life is the worst + my back pain is the worst + I am completely inflexible + it's been 3 minutes.
But I made it through! Again it really did help loosen up my back. After class I went to a kids birthday party and my posture was complimented. Plus because I "exercised" I got to eat chicken wings and have sangria in Paw Patrol cups GUILT FREE. It was really good Sangria.
Class 18 - Power hatha
If you haven't heard of Power Hatha before that's because I made up the title after taking this nightmare class.
At the end of the long weekend, having consumed a fairly decent amount of chocolate + cream puffs + burritos and thoroughly embracing the deep relaxation that 3 days off together brought us Kyle + I decided that we should probably go to Zoe's Hatha class. I figured my heart could fill up with a little more joy and my body could flow kindly through some movement and it would be so lovely that it would be worth giving up the couch snuggles I was very much enjoying.
We got to class and the instructor whispered "I'm not Zoe"
WHY ARE YOU WHISPERING AND WHY ARE YOU NOT ZOE??? OH NO OH NO OH NO.
I didn't even know yet.
Suddenly I'm doing some crazy flow where it's from three legged dog, to my foot being placed on my knee and then moving it forward underneath me and breathing in some weird knee on leg plank then planting it and turning my body like I'm in the exorcist and looking at Kyle to catch his eye and mouth "what is even happening?" while classmates grunt and 3 people spend 3/4 of the class in child's pose and I may have just broken myself in half and I'm slipping in my sweat and straining to hear the whispering instructor.
So that wasn't ideal.
But I guess I'm stronger and bendier now?
It just wasn't what I was in the market for that evening.
Class 19 - Vinyasa at One Yoga
On Valentines Day I arrived a little late to be really early for Sjanie's class. There was basically no room left so I asked someone if they could move over a little bit and I could squish in next to the wall. She looked at me with a side eye and asked if that spot was working for me. Lady- of course it's not. I was stuck in next to the wall but there was room for a full mat and I literally did not see another place that could sustain such a thing. Then she got into side plank and put her top leg wayyyyy up in the air to warm up. So she sure showed me.
Some adjustments and more people arriving and mats slipped around and moved and I got to move forward a bit so I had an extra inch next to the wall but I was a little thrown off. Sjanie started class and said "there will be no talk of Valentine's Day" which very, very much threw me off because I was all excited to hear about love on the love day.
I tried out a few new moves and attempted a supported shoulder stand which normally my abs give out pretty much right away, but this time my arms went to sleep from my elbows down so, what's up with that?
In the end it was just a basic Sjanie class. Hard work, slippery, motivating. But it was not my favourite Sjanie class unfortunately. I just never got over feeling thrown off at the beginning. The feeling that I had to live up to the fact that I had to ask someone to move to make room for me. Which when I type it out sounds sort of like a bigger life metaphor- asking someone to make room for you and then feeling pressure to live up to the fact they made the space for you. But that's not really how it's supposed to work is it? Aren't we supposed to share + make room for people in our lives, and take them where they are + enjoy what they share with us? It's annoying how full the class is, but I also understand how important it is we make room for everyone who's there practicing. And I've never been mad at someone for asking me to move and then not being really good at class, so hopefully next time I inevitably get a side-eye I'll remember this talk I literally just had with myself.
Class 20 - Hatha
I arrived at class and had enough time to get some peppermint tea and while sipping it I realized that it was class 20 and I was about to finish my challenge! No fanfare. I was unsure about who the instructor was, but was sure that at the end of the class it was going to be done + I hoped it would be a good one.
And oh my goodness!
It was! It was so good!
The instructor had a beautiful Australian accent and just had this certain lovely bounce about him and he sat down and said that spring is coming and that he wanted our flow to represent this wonderful time of change and awakening of movement + it was so, so lovely.
One of those Hatha flows where the movements are just challenging enough that you are working but not so hard that you can't just enjoy what it feels like to be strong and moving and awakening your body, connecting to your soul + getting ready for spring.
So after all this, it turns out a month of regular yoga doesn't change everything. It doesn't mean you can suddenly stand on your head, or be super benevolent when some lady with crazy-leg-in-the-sky skills gives you side eye, or not cry for a full day when you find out you didn't get a job you really wanted, or feel graceful the day after eating an entire pizza to yourself, or be well-informed without following the news, or keep clean when you're wearing white.
But it does mean when there is a lovely instructor who designs a flow to feel like spring you can get it. You can enjoy the movement of your body + sleep well that night + try the more advanced pose every once in a while.
I'm going to stick with it. Maybe not quite as often but definitley more than once a week.
A month of yoga didn't solve everything.
But it did make me a lot better at yoga. And for that I am grateful.
and with that