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2 Weeks Down, 1 To Go (Day 14) January 24, 2011

Posted by ajoyfulpractice in 21-Day Challenge, Changing Perspectives, Fitness, Health, Mantra, Meditation, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Philosophy, Science, Texas, Twin Cities, Yoga.

Day 14

“Practice, practice, practice! All is coming.”

– Sri Pattabhi Jois

We are well into the first month of the new year, and well into Yoga Journal’s 21-Day Yoga Challenge. There’s no turning back the clock. As we close out the second week, I’m guessing that the myriad of thoughts and emotions running through my brain are echoed in other people’s brains:

Wow, this feels really good!
I’m super energized today!
I’m so relaxed!
Wow, I’ve never done that before!

I’m so exhausted.
I can’t wait for things to slow down.
Man, I wish I could do that today.
Wow, I can’t believe it’s almost over.

How am I ever going to keep up this level of practice?

Do I even want to keep up this level of practice?

I wonder what we’re going to do next week?

The thoughts, the emotions, the questions, and (yes, Virginia) even the answers to the questions all come through practice. At one point this week I thought I was interacting with yoga – practicing, teaching, or reading – for almost as much time per week as I did during teacher training. That’s something I never expected to do again. The training, like the challenge, is an intense experience over a limited amount of time. The same thing can be said about life: it is right here, right now. We have to be here, and breathe here; we have to practice right here, now…. Everything else will come – or not. And that last part, the “not” part, is vital, because it reminds us that the most important part of Sri Pattabhi Jois’s advice is the first part, the part he kept repeating: Practice. Practice. Practice.

This busy weekend capped off a busy week. Saturday night was one of many late nights that resulted in very little sleep on my part. I’ve worried about the lack of sleep a little bit, and chastised myself (for the lack, as well as the worry). But, so far, so good. I thought this whole process would help me evolve into a more Aryuvedic schedule. Instead, I find myself settling into a routine I’ve had for most of my life – the schedule of a night owl.

Of course, there is always a bit of a cost to staying up late and having to work in the morning. On Saturday (Day 13), the cost was my own asana practice before teaching. Today seemed like it was going to be a similar situation, but then I decided today was a day I really needed to squeeze in a practice before class. Of course, once I got going I forgot about everything else. In for a penny, in for a pound – or a few more minutes on the mat. I had to rush to catch my bus and make it to class on time, but it was more than worth it. I felt energized, open, joyful, and ready for the surprises the day had in store.

For months, several members at the YMCA have been telling me that they were going to try my class. Usually when I talk to someone new to yoga, I have a pretty good sense of if they’ll really come or if they’ll keep offering reasons why they haven’t come. First thing this morning, two people I never really expected to see in class, showed up. I was blown away by their presence, as well as by their practice. It was a hard class – even for the regulars – and yet these two “unlikely yogis” kept at it. Even better, they kept smiling – which is a big plus in my classes.

After the first class, I again took advantage of the empty studio and practiced the 18-Minute So Hum Meditation. I felt good, but found myself adjusting me seat/asana on more than one occasion. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m really noticing how engaged the back muscles, particularly the upper ones, have to be in order to sustain a comfortable seat. On Saturday, a student told me he was challenged by the brief seated meditation we sometimes do after the longer classes. I suggested he use a block or cushion, and to focus on strengthening those areas during the asana practice. For me, the block helps the upper back a lot. It should also help the hips and lower, but sometimes I feel like I need to adjust my legs more when I’m on the block. During part of today’s meditation I incorporated some bandha engagement to go along with the breathing. Working the bandhas in this way is another thing I’d like to practice more.

I still felt open and alert during the rest of my day. Even though I was a little frustrated that the sequence I taught in the morning was not as balanced as the sequence I had practiced, it was still good and I decide to keep that version as the overall plan for my remaining classes.

One of the members from the candlelight class graciously offered me a ride home. Somewhere along the way, the coziness of the warm vehicle and the comfortable conversation lulled me. When I got home, I sat down to pause and reset before I started the video sequence. The next thing I knew, I had fallen asleep in a weird cross-legged version of Dandasana. I could have easily crawled right into the bed and made myself comfortable for the night. In fact, physically, I might have been more comfortable than I was during the practice. However, I had made the commitment to myself. Plus, we’re so close to the end…and I’d hate to loose the momentum.

Theoretically, I should have practiced the “Fun Flow” from Day 8 (because, on Day 8, I practiced the Evening Sequence from Day 14). The only thing was, I felt too relaxed to do an energetic practice. I was ready to close out the day. So, I repeated the 20-Minute Evening Sequence with Kate Holcombe. Again, I was experienced some technical difficulties and I was a little too cold. However, the sequence was exactly what I needed. Ultimately, that is what the physical practice is all about: doing what your mind-body-spirit need in order to sustain the practice, and to be connected.



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