Friday, August 27, 2010

Just in time for National Yoga Month! (with a long aside)

I'm planning on doing a 30-day challenge in September. Not just because it's on my 30 Before 30 list. There are a couple of answers to "Why do this now?"

1. September actually has only 30 days. Just four months can claim that! For some reason, it works better in my mind this way. I think I'd be inclined to excuse myself for one day if I were to challenge in a 31-day month. This may make no sense, at all, but it's how my brain works... Also, it isn't cold yet, so I can get a good sweat on even in a mostly-home practice.

2. My life finally has a semblance of routine: I work at the yoga studio one night and one day a week. I go to work and I come home and I play with dogs. Sometimes I cook, sometimes the boyfriend does. It's all very boring, but I wouldn't have it any other way. (Well, that's not entirely true. I wish I could magically transport myself to work in an instant, but it's not going to happen, and I love where I live and I love where I work, so. That's that.)

3. The New York asana competition is in October, and participating is also on my 30 Before 30 list. Doing this challenge will help me prepare for that in a couple ways. Getting stronger with postures. Getting stronger in general. Losing a couple of pounds (maybe). Developing Bikram's five aspects of the mind (that's a great link; you should click it!): faith, determination, self-control, concentration and patience. Taking part in the competition might not happen, however, because 1) My emails to Bikram Yoga NYC have gone unanswered; 2) I can't seem to find anything about this year's competition, including a date, and 3) My back is kind of angry.

Aside/explanation about the back; feel free to skip this:

I've had lower back pain on and off for years now, and I'm used to it, and it's a dull-ache kinda thing. Yoga helps, etc, etc. I love, LOVE backbending. However, over the past three weeks to a month, I've developed pretty bad pain and stiffness in my midback. Well, the muscles have always been tight, but now my spine really feels stiff. Backbending HURTS. Feels like a metal rod is in my spine.

In a trip to the chiropractor Wednesday (the first such visit in over two years), I learned that the apex of my pain is right at the apex of my spine's scoliotic curve, like the point on the left side of this character: < . OK, maybe it's not quite that severe, but it feels like it! I also learned that my spine is more of a wreck than I had assumed/accepted. The doc actually asked me, "What happened to you?" as though she thought I'd been in a car accident, or something. Maybe she was hoping to keep steady any business from me. Not to worry, doc.

It was interesting to hear her rundown of my structural issues, as her observations actually validated a lot of perceptions (proprioceptions?) I'd had. For example, even when my feet are together, toes and heels touching, I feel like my left hip is waaay forward of the right one. And I feel like my head is constantly tilted to the right. And like my right shoulder is trying to reach forward to touch my wacky left hip. (This explains why my half-moon to the right comes extremely naturally — I'm already halfway there.) And on and on. And I was right!!!

Well, she did some work on my neck (my chin goes straight down now! Yay!) and my wonky lower back, and although I was sore yesterday, it was a good sore. Just like I've heard at yoga, my body didn't get into so much pain overnight; it's unreasonable to expect it to get awesome overnight.

That doesn't, however, keep me from wanting it to be awesome overnight. In Thursday's class, I still had the midback pain, and in the first backbend I just tried to breathe through the pain/fear (about which a post is started and sitting in draft version). The second one I did OK, though nowhere near its usual depth. The last thing I wanted to do was jam everything up. Which brings me back to...

End aside/explanation. Sheesh, that was long.

4. My back is kind of angry. A challenge, undertaken with care and concern and compassion, can work wonders for my spine, especially in concert with chiropractic.

What I hope to learn from you, lovelies, is why you do challenges. And what are some of the biggest obstacles to completing them? How do you address those obstacles? I won't be able to use the "I don't have enough time" excuse most days. My time commitment will be exactly 90 minutes (or however long the CD really is), since at least three days a week I'll be practicing at home. It's nice to have dealt with that excuse (my favorite, by the way) up front. Let's see if I don't talk myself out of it. :)

It's good to blog again. If you're a blogger, yoga-related or otherwise, know that I am always inspired (or at least entertained!) by what you've been writing. I so look forward to hearing your thoughts!


  1. That's a good idea to do the 30 day challenge in a 30 day month. My mind works like too.
    I've done one 30 day challenge and I think the hardest part for me was in week 2 and 3 when I started getting tired. I had to really force myself to do it. But I always reminded myself how good I would feel after.
    Also, at my studio, there were like 30 people doing the challenge so we all had our names up on a board for us to put stickers on each day and for all to see. When I commit myself to something that a hundred other people know about. It helps me get through.
    Also my back started bothering me, I could barely do a sit up for a week. I have an old lower back injury that likes to pop up every once in a while.
    Well this was a long winded comment.
    Hope to hear about your challenge! And I hope the competition works out for you. I'm thinking I'd like to give it a try next year.

  2. I've done a few challenges and my biggest obstacle is me. There are days that I just am not feeling it and then I have to talk myself out of the "you don't have to do anything you don't want to" frame of mind. Everyhing else I really like - even the weird aches and pains. I do almost all of my yoga at a studio, though. I think if I did a more home-oriented practice, I might falter more because even if no one knows I'm doing a challenge, it's nice to have the energy of a group on the hard days. But have fun with it and I hope your back feels better soon!

  3. Hey Catherine,
    It's always good to read your posts, and, creepy as it may be, I find the stuff about your back fascinating! :-) I keep thinking, "one of these days, one of these days," I'll go to a chiro. Maybe I just will one day...

    I wish I had some insight on challenges, but I've never done one, so I ain't got none :-) But good for you! I'm sure it'll be rewarding in many ways, as challenging as it may be.

  4. i hope your back gets better soon.

    i finished my 90 day challenge yesterday, but at the last two weeks, i kinda fell off the wagon and missed 5 classes out of nowhere. well, ok, not out of nowhere. work was really brutal.

    during day 15 onwards, it became easier for me because i had gotten into my routine. as in, nothing gets in my way routing, lol. i swear i would push an old lady out of my way if she made me late for class. ok, maybe just a nudge. LOL!

    sleep is a close second after work, i think.

  5. Wheee, 30 day challenge. :)

    You know I've done a billion of these (or feels like it) since my first one in Sept 2007. (Hey, September is a good month for it!!) They're pretty interesting. I have a pretty regular practice anyway (or did, most of the time), but I like the commitment of just knowing that I'm going to go to class. Any time I start to fall out of my routine, the "challenge" is a good way to get back into good habits. For me, it's exactly like hitting the "reset" button. I wish I could explain exactly what I mean by that, but maybe you'll get it...

    Oh btw the championships are often kind of disorganized. The dates for my region haven't been announced yet either. Just be patient and keep checking. :) That's awesome that you want to compete! Sounds like you're gonna have a good fall.

  6. This is so exciting! I plan to do a 30-day challenge this month, too! As soon as I return from labor day :) Thanks for your honesty and openness writing about your experience here. So glad I swung by the blog! Oh and congrats on the Ultima after all (hopefully you saw my latest post about needing domestic addresses). Keep me posted on your yoga adventures and all the best!

  7. Thanks so much, ladies, for your warm advice and support!

    Lady J - So glad you "got" what I was saying about the 30 days! Hah. Having people know about and support the challenge is important, I think. Since my studio's rules require that challenge classes be taken there, my name isn't on any board. :( Readers are all I have! Thank goodness I've got *some* accountability.
    Dorothy - The " 'you don't have to do anything you don't want to' frame of mind" is my biggest obstacle, too. If I'm feeling the slightest bit sick or run down, I convince myself to just take one night off and give my body a break. While there's definitely a time for that, a runny nose isn't it.
    E - I don't think it's creepy! Dude, if someone else were writing about a wonky twisted back, I'd be into reading it. Believe me. (I know a wonderful chiro in SD; say the word [whenever, years even] and I'll give you his info.)
    LaLa - I can't help but laugh at the image of you pushing an old lady out of the way! Getting into a routine is going to be BIG for me. I hope that at day 15, I can feel the same sense of routine as you did!
    J - WHAT DO YOU MEAN THE CHAMPIONSHIPS are often kind of disorganized?? I thought everything in yogaland was always perfectly punctual and concise and organized. You know, like I've read so much about at teacher training. :D I think I know what you mean by "reset button." And I'm excited for it. Any chance you'll be in Mass. for 10/3?
    Rachel - Thanks! Email's sent. :)