NOTE : This post was originally published on the Groucho Sports blog on December 8, 2010 (where I had the great opportunity to blog). It’s a favorite that’s worth reposting on my personal blog.
During the final savasana of 75-minute C2 vinyasa yoga class this past weekend, my fave instructor said something that resonated: You are resilient beyond measure.
The 100 consecutive days I’ve been down dogging, chatarungaring and hot yogaing has taught me that, and, well, it has taught me a LOT.
Let me start from child’s pose (as any yogi out there knows, most vinyasa yoga classes begin in this posture).
Before I started practicing yoga in June 2009, not gonna lie: I thought yoga was for wimps. I mean, yoga means you sit cross-legged in a corner for hours with your eyes closed saying, “Ommmmmmm”… right? And forget sweating or even elevating your heart rate. Neither happen during yoga… right? Clearly, yoga is not my style; I’m a crazy-cardio-to-your-max-heart-rate-push-yourself-to-the-edge kinda girl.
Well, needless to say, that first practice was eye opening; every preconceived idea I had about yoga was repeatedly quashed sun A after sun A, down dog after down dog, chatarunga after chatarunga. That first sixty minutes on my mat left me completely exhausted, completely blissed out and completely wanting more savasana-induced happiness.
Fast forward countless yoga classes to September 1. In honor of National Yoga Month, a 30-day yoga challenge was in order (and it was the perfect way to get more yoga in my life, as I was a savasana slacker all summer because cycling consumed my free time; not that I’m complaining because riding my Madone is bliss on wheels… but that’s another post).
To keep it interesting and to further challenge my balance and mind, I switched up the classes: vinyasa one day, hot yoga the next, rounded out by hot power fusion and yoga sculpt. While I love every single class, I discovered that 90 minutes in a 105-degree room with 40 percent humidity is my idea of heaven. Sweat dripping from my elbows five minutes in? Yes, please. A yoga mat towel and yoga clothes so soaked with sweat after class that it’s like pulling them out of the washer pre-spin cycle? Absolutely. There’s really nothing more wonderfully detoxifying.
Thirty days of yoga came and went in a blink, and on October 1, I went to another class. And, then another. And another. And another. And before I knew it, it had been 90 days of yoga in a row. So I figured, why stop at 90? Let’s make it 100 (and counting).
But, honestly, it’s not really about the number anymore. Rather, yoga has become part of my day, and a day without it would feel just… off. And un-centered.
So, aside from feeling absolutely amazing from garudasanas, utthita trikonasanas and utkatasanas, 100 days of yoga has taught more than I could have imagined.
Here are my top 10 takeaways:
- Each yoga practice is unique, and some days are better and more flexible than others. Just like every yoga practice, every day is different. Expect the unexpected.
- I am resilient. If I fall out of a pose, I find my drishti and get right back in it. Easy as that. And if life veers off course, find your drishti, and just like that, it’s back on course.
- I am strong. I may not be able to bench press 150 pounds, but I can do chatarungas over and over like there’s no tomorrow and can hold crow indefinitely. Off the mat, I’m strong in my convictions and strong in who I am.
- My body really isn’t as horribly imperfect as I think it is. Honestly, what woman doesn’t have body image issues? Yoga has helped me get over mine (or at least some of them) and has given me more confidence and poise both on and off the mat.
- Balance. Sure, I can calmly stand on one leg in natarajasana (dancer pose) or vrksasana (tree pose) for minutes, but it’s brought more balance off the mat, too. Now, I’m not saying my life is completely balanced because it’s far from that (if I didn’t need sleep, finding a better balance between everything would be much, much easier). But, it’s shown me the importance of finding a balance between work, grad school, fitness, family and friends. Fully implementing that, however, is another story…
- Being awake at 5a really isn’t that bad. In fact, it’s actually pretty nice. The calm and silence before the rest of the world wakes up is something to be relished (um, can you say no traffic?). And, really, starting each day on the mat is just… well… nothing compares. I’m more centered and happier all day when I do.
- I’m still not that flexible. While touching my toes isn’t a problem, I still can’t quite straighten my leg in utthita hasta padangustasana (extended hand to big toe pose), though each time I try it, another millimeter gives. It’s safe to say, though, that I’ve learned flexibility off the mat can reap some pretty great rewards. You never know what will happen if you keep your mind open and flexible to all possibilities.
- Trust is everything. Not only to trust yourself during ustrasana (camel, which is a serious heart opener that brings up some serious emotions… yep, it’s made me cry), but also to trust yourself in all that you do. Trust that you made the right career move or that no (or yes) was the right answer. Trust in your relationships. Trust in yourself.
- There is nothing as amazingly relaxing as savanasa, both before and after class. I have no trouble falling asleep in a matter of minutes while laying flat on my back. You know when you’re on the cusp of sleep when you jump? Yeah, I’ve been that girl before class more times than I can count. My yoga mat is just such a relaxing and safe place.
- What you practice on the mat – openness, generosity, selflessness, bliss, happiness, resiliency – can always be carried with you and practiced off the mat.