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21 Days of Yoga (& Other Stuff) January 11, 2011

Posted by ajoyfulpractice in 21-Day Challenge, 40-Day Challenge, Changing Perspectives, Donate, Fitness, Health, Karma Yoga, Mantra, Meditation, Philosophy, Texas, Yoga.

Day 0

We all begin somewhere. {Check back for link.}

Day 1

I’ve never done a 21-Day yoga challenge. I have, however, done several 40-Day yoga practices – and each one has changed my life. The fact that I have a fairly well established home practice (something I started with my first 40-Day practice) and teach yoga classes, may lead some to believe that the Yoga Journal event is a no-brainer for me. In fact, I’m looking at it as a true challenge. I’m also looking at it as an opportunity for change and growth. Finally, I’m looking at it as an opportunity to deepen my practice.

The funny thing is, we all have opportunities to change, grow, and deepen our yoga practice every day. But it’s easy to miss them. And, in some ways, teaching can create scenarios where we take these opportunities for granted – and, in doing so, miss them.

As a result of my teaching, I practice asana 5 – 7 days a week. However, a lot of my personal/home practice time is spent getting ready to teach, thinking about how various sequences will work with different groups, how I’ll cue them, and what modifications I can offer in a limited amount of time. More and more, I treasure the time I get on the mat and just focus on myself and what my body needs – and more and more, that treasured time seems to be decreasing. So, during these 3 weeks I want to re-focus and re-commit to my personal practice, while also finding a different kind of balance between how I practice as a student of yoga and how I practice as a teacher of yoga.

I’ve recommended the challenge to my students and, on the day before the challenge, I included a few poses featured in the most recent Yoga Journal in my personal practice and in my three regular Sunday classes (Day 0). In my personal practice, I did all of the recommended poses at the end of the practice. During the classes I taught, I worked in variations of almost all of the poses at the beginning or end of the practice. These poses, as well, as the accompanying article seemed like a perfect way for anyone to get started. It wasn’t super challenging (which can be perfect for a beginner or someone beginning a home practice), but it was also a good integrating or surrender series for someone wanting a more challenging sequence.

On Monday, I was very surprised to find that the “Fun Flow” featured as the first official sequence of the challenge was, well…challenging. Some people have commented that it was too much or too fast for a beginner, or even for someone who has been away from the mat for a while. I have to agree. I was also disappointed that there was no Savasana time included in the video. (You’re guided into the pose, but then the video ends – making it seem like Savasana doesn’t matter and giving no guidelines to a new practitioner. Grrr.) On the flip side, the sequence was put together well and Elise Lorimer gave clear, concise, and detailed instruction.

Yes, if you’re new to yoga it’s best to watch the video first – but that’s good advice for any non-classroom practice, regardless of your experience or fitness level. Unfortunately, that good advice is also part of the ultimate downside to the first day: given the need to preview the sequence (which I didn’t); the technical video difficulties a lot of people experienced (myself included); and the need for Savasana, completing the first day’s practice became a bigger time commitment than advertised.

While I waited for the download I did an 18-minute seated So Hum meditation that I originally planning to do afterward, and (after the flow sequence) I listened to the Nicolai Bachman audio feature on the Yoga Sutra-s (look under the video). The meditation, which I am also planning to do for the next 21 days, and the audio feature really fired me up to go deeper. While I’m glad I did the video sequence and I’m committed to doing the next 20-days worth, part of me wishes this was more like the World Yoga Project, the 40-Day program I completed several years ago. With WYP, each participant received a workbook with photos accompanying the sequence, which progressed over the 40 days. It wasn’t free, but part of the proceeds went to charity. Plus, you got to keep the workbook and could reference it whenever or where ever – no downloading required.

It’s easy to see the flaws in both methods. Neither is perfect. But then, something this big, involving this many people, can’t meet everyone’s definition of perfect. That doesn’t mean, however, that it’s not…perfect.

At the end of the day, I have the same questions I had before I started:

  1. For whom is this challenged really geared?
  2. What type of practitioner is going to finish?
  3. What are we all going to learn from this process?

I also have the same final thoughts:

This is going to get interesting, and
this is going to be fun.




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