Clearly, I overestimated my newly found mindfulness, because on Saturday morning, hours after finishing Day 5 of my 10-Day Yoga Challenge, I looked down at my feet and didn’t recognize the flip flops I was wearing. They did look very similar to the ones I wore to yoga earlier that morning, same color, same style, and they fit rather comfortably. But there was a little pizazz to the stitching that I didn’t remember noticing before. At first I thought, “Wow, look at me honing my focus to such little details. Yoga is really increasing my awareness.” But upon further investigation, I realized that in my post-class reverie, I had slipped on someone else’s shoes. I feel terrible for the person who walked home or hopefully just hobbled to their car barefooted, which they must have done, because when I went back to the closed studio, there were my flip flops waiting for me outside the door.
The first 5 days felt eternal. I was constantly sore, every class seemed never-ending, and I couldn’t help but come out of poses early in order to prevent total muscle failure that would have resulted in me collapsing to the floor. After every class I felt relief that it was over and thought that maybe that would be my last class, but as the day went on I started looking forward to the next one.
Days 6-10 were definitely hard, but each day I felt victorious instead of relieved at the end of class. I didn’t just endure and let it happen. I actually did the practice. The soreness started to melt away, and I became less intimidated by certain poses. Sitting in chair pose no longer felt like torture. I started to flow through transitions, albeit while wobbling, from one pose to another instead of seeing each pose as a separate challenge.
On Day 6 I found my people. My people show up on Sunday mornings at 7:00 when the 20-somethings with the cute yoga butts are at home sleeping off their Saturday nights. But Sunday mornings my people show up. They’re the ones who snuck out of the house before the kids woke up. They’re the ones who are squeezing in 75 minutes for themselves before they haul everyone to church and then cook brunch for the family. They don’t have tatoos or the most stylish yoga gear. But these people work hard. On Day 6, we smoked it.
Day 7 needed to happen at the non-summery hour of 6am in order for me not to break my streak. I had a few things scheduled throughout the day, and believe me, if I could’ve chosen another time, I would have. But I’m actually glad I went that early. I liked these people, too. I am these people. They rolled out of bed, just like I did, but now they will head to work feeling like the hardest part of their day is over. That’s exactly how I felt when I taught 6am spin class. After conquering that mountain, I could do anything. Bring it, Day.
What are the chances I can find a 6am yoga class in New York?
Day 8. The reason I had to take the 6am class on Day 7 was that my sister-in-law invited me to a BodyPump class at her YMCA. I adore BodyPump almost as much as I adore my sister-in-law, so there was no way I was going to turn this offer down. I used to be a certified BodyPump instructor and loved teaching it in that terrified love sort of way, but I hadn’t taken a BodyPump class in about a year because it’s not easy to find in the City. If I had kept up with it even as a participant I would not be the weak-armed, 40-something woman that I am today.
If you have a gym nearby that offers BodyPump. GO to it. You will find that strong self that you forgot was there.
I assumed I would feel the way I always feel when I lift weights for the first time after weeks/months of weightliftinglessness. Like Wile E. Coyote flattened at the bottom of a canyon by that huge boulder that inevitably caught up with him. But something incredible happened in that class on Day 8. Power yoga completely erased any potential soreness from Body Pump. I kept waiting for that delayed onset muscle soreness, which happens to my body like clockwork 36 hours after asking it to do something new. It never came.
On Day 9 I started to feel a little panicky. I only had two days left. And after that I’ll purchase another week, and then it will be over! I will be leaving Buffalo and this adorable little studio. I was already starting to miss it. Now that I know about this, how am I going to get on without it?
Day 10 was a powerful class. There wasn’t anything drastically different from what we normally do, but it was a powerful class because I felt powerful. There’s a lot of repetition in power yoga. The flow is repeated, poses are held multiple times, and it’s easy to get lost in the “one more time” mentality. In fact, on Day 9 the only way to keep my mind present was to count the vinyasas. We did 32.
My instructor uses a phrase that I’ve come to love. “You’ve never been in this warrior before…you’ve never been in this chair pose before….” Even though we’ve done it 10 times already today? Even though. This one is brand new. What does this do for me? It gets me out of my head, out of my preconceived notions about what I’ve done before and what I am capable of today. Yesterday’s successes and failures do not define me now. And this reminder pushes me to do my best. Be my best. Open myself up to new possibilities. This is something that I can take with me.
- I’ve never taught this lesson before.
- I’ve never run these 3 miles before.
- I’ve never had this day ahead of me before.
- I’ve never had this conversation before.
- I’ve never had this opportunity to love this person before.
- I’ve never experience this moment before.
If this had been the only thing I’d learned from this yoga challenge it would’ve been enough. But after 10 days of power yoga, here are my other takeaways:
- Showing up is half the battle.
- Breath is power.
- I’m stronger than I think.
- Being present on my mat spills over to being present in my life.
- There is no such thing as a yoga body.
- I need to make yoga a priority in NYC.
And in just 10 short days I’ve noticed these surprising little benefits too:
- Defined arm and leg muscles
- Tighter abdominals
- Better posture
- Deeper sleep
- Improved flexibility
- More positive attitude
- Increased patience (confirmed by the Husband)
- Disappearance of “age” aches and pains
- Brighter complexion
- A sense of gratefulness
Buffalo friends, give Power Yoga a try! I’ll join you there every time I’m in town!
- NYC friends, do you have a studio to recommend?
- In what area of your life can you remind yourself that you’ve never done this one before?
- What positive effects do you experience from exercise?