So here I am, embarking on week three of doing yoga every day in July, and how do I feel? Knackered. Thankfully in that glorious, “I’ve earned this tiredness!” kind of way, but nonetheless I’m pooped. I have learnt various lessons this past week. The ups and downs have heightened a bit from last week, as my body is being pushed further and further. Gather round and let me impart!
Lesson 1: Don’t Drink And Downward Dog
I was taking this month as a perfect reason to cut down on drinking, and also to try to improve my diet. For the most part I think I’ve done very well, but then last Thursday happened. There were perhaps a few too many fermented grapes consumed, and too little water to wash it all down. I tried to be clever — as clever as you can get when overindulging — and I booked my class for the evening the following day. It was neither clever nor good. I was still so dehydrated that everything was so much more difficult and I didn’t get the usual sense of satisfaction following the class. So there’s a swift lesson learned.
Lesson 2: Listen To Your Body
There have been a couple of times that I’ve tried to keep the pace, and done myself a disservice. One was diabetes related, for which there’s only so much preparation you can do. If diabetes wants to come up and bite you, it will. I was feeling quite tired anyway and it was a hot class, so I took my weakness for regular tiredness until I’d almost gone past the point of no return. It can hit you like a bus when your sugar levels drop quickly. I sat in kneeling position for some time after having my Lucozade (I take one into every class just in case), but trying to participate in the rest of the class was pointless for me.
The other was just fatigue. Early this week I was going into classes with my legs already feeling like jelly. The first was the above hypoglycaemia class, the following day I just hit a wall. I went to squat into Utkaṭāsana and nearly buckled. My legs had checked-out. It has, unfortunately, meant I’ve come to the decision that yoga every day will have to been foregone. I’m giving myself one or two rest days before I get to the end of the month, just to allow my muscles to recover and really benefit from all the hard work I’ve put in!
It’s actually something most of the teachers have recommended – make it six days a week instead. It’s easy to put yourself down if something doesn’t go to plan, and for a second I felt like this challenge was a fail, but I was quickly reminded how much I’ve learned. Every individual day of this challenge has been a small success for me, that add up to a big collective success at the end of the month. I will keep on trucking until the 31st!
Lesson 3: Give Up On Expectations, Have A Goal
After two weeks of working away at it, and as I touched on last week, I’ve realised expecting certain things is not the way to go. I was going into a class hoping to have a physical or mental ‘marker’, for lack of a better word, that I could make note of as progress. This really doesn’t help when you have an off day, and maybe can’t fold into Uttānāsana the same way as last time. Instead I’ve tried to, after prompting from a certain editor, focus on one aspect and try to maintain it throughout the class: be it breathing, core engagement, or whatever your fancy. It’s a great way of helping keep a focus, but not getting upset if you veer off a little. As long as you work your way back to it once you’ve noticed, you’re still on track.
Breathing is still an issue, as odd as it may seem. I’ve found myself delaying breaths or taking in extra breaths as I’m so focused on making the pose ‘perfect’. I need to learn to, quite literally, go with the flow. On the flip side, I also don’t want to get hung up on the pace. It gets a bit awkward if you’re so far behind you can’t remember what was next, but if your breaths are deeper or you hold a little longer, why shouldn’t you be coming back into your downward dog a bit later than most of the class?
I had a wonderful beginner class with Caroline this week. It was especially nice as I’d missed last week’s, and it was good to get back into such an intimate environment (there was just me and two others – one of which this little blog of mine inspired to start classes!). It was so good that I went on to take a second class with Caroline later that day – the very first class I made it all the way through without having to ‘Stop, Drop and Child’s Pose’ like I’ve become so familiar with.
Beyond The Halfway Point…
Turns out this was a week of firsts: I’ve also done my first shoulder stand! How successfully, I don’t know, but my legs were in the air and I wasn’t suffocating myself, so I’ll take that as a win.
Now that I’m over half way through the challenge, and me being me, I’m already thinking of how I’ll continue with yoga after July. As much as I’m trying not to mark physically noticeable progress (I can touch my toes! Ahem…) it has made me think that soon I may want to take the practice a little further, and brave one of the more advanced classes. I’ll give myself a little more time, but this is a challenge after all, so I might as well try as much as I can.
As much as this week was much more physically challenging, I’ve been in a better place mentally. Having to leave the class early last week hit me harder than making the decision to give myself a rest day. I feel like I’m settling into everything easier, and taking life with a slightly less frantic attitude. There’s definitely a long way to go, but I’ll definitely keep yoga in my life if it continues helping me as it has so far.
Has yoga ever helped you overcome any road blocks? Or just help you deal with everyday life easier? Share some of your stories in the comments — I’d love to hear about how it’s helped you all!