April 30th marked the finish of a month-long Yoga Challenge.
The challenge was to practice your Yoga routine every day and to incorporate new challenging poses set by Kino MacGregor. These daily poses were posted on her Instagram and hashtagged yogatothecore.
Admittedly it is easy to view this as an opportunity to join a viral month-long instagram picture extravaganza, either to make yourself feel more fit than others, or to make yourself look more interesting. For me though, I saw my mornings in April as a legitimate daily objective to dedicate myself to practicing yoga though the pain, sweat, heat and failed attempts that would result in a stronger core and better Yoga training… That was the idea anyhow. Here is my not so glamorous 30 days of Yoga.
Yoga is hard.
When I see it on a demonstration video it looks so simple, as though it is performed with lackadaisical ease until I try to put those actions into motion. I was dumbfounded how inflexible I’ve become after years of doing nothing for the cause. Long gone are the days of elementary gym class and doing the splits on a whim, how about all of those years in dance, gymnastics and cheerleading, where are they to help me now? Nowhere, now it takes time and persistence.
Muscle is a fickle friend of Yoga.
Too little muscle and you can’t push off the ground, too much and your body mass restricts you from reaching your toes (although that is usually only a male problem, a problem in which I encountered while trying to make my very broad built husband join me, boy was that a laugh and a half).
Hot Yoga is a joke.
We’re on an extended stay in Palm Springs where the temperature has been anywhere from 80-103 degrees. Practicing indoors leaves too high of a risk of karate kicking valuables in a blundered attempt at Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana, i.e. hand to big toe standing on one leg. Outdoor yoga is the safest option. When considering yoga above 90 degrees I think about how many calories I can burn without having to do cardio and then I start to get Thor syndrome. I’m like, yo I’m a badass, I got this… then the hot desert air fills my lungs, a few minutes in my back starts to sunburn and then slowly creeping down my face is the first drop of sweat to hit my mat, which would be ok if it weren’t covered in a thin coat of sandy desert dust. Once my sun salutations are finished and I’m well into my routine I venture into sitting poses and the moment my bare legs touch the mat (that’s been soaking up hot UV rays for the last twenty minutes) I receive what feels like second degree burn on the back of my already sunburnt legs. Never fear though, my mat has developed a nice mix of sweat and sand building up so I can just rub a mud mask on my legs to soothe the pain. The real danger I faced was that heat makes my hands and feet sweat, wet mats make for slippery situations, so I have to be aware and take precautions. I finally throw in the towel and call it quits once the chaffing begins, no one wants an itchy bottom because as my husband says “yoga makes you sexy” and that’s definitely not sexy.
Yoga looks really cool.
Yoga looks really cool, I just wanted to repeat that for effect. Lol. Honestly though, just because I see something doesn’t mean I should attempt it. The web instructor of this challenge, Kino MacGregor is a fourth level Ashtanga Yoga instructor, she’s been teaching and practicing six days a week for twelve years. Many days I didn’t realize the skill level and strength required for these daily poses. Sure she she had other instructors providing easier variations but remember, I have Thor syndrome. I’m much too amazing to be a amateur status… In the future I need to remember that improper practice of headstands are an excellent way to break ya’ neck Busta Rhymes style. It’s by Gods grace that I walked away from this challenge with only pulled a muscle.
Is Yoga healthy?
Yoga is absolutely a beneficial practice but like everything you do it should only be done in moderation. One last reflection and look into my Thor syndrome… “I’m going to be a yoga mastermind because I practice everyday and flexibility and lean muscle come naturally to me”. Wrong. Two months into my sudden obsession with my daily yoga I’ve completely shocked my system. I was part way through my third week of a continuous menstrual cycle and on my third pair of pants in a day (I had to sneak out of a lunch date with my husband to buy pants at a tourist shop in Laguna Beach, how embarrassing) when I finally went to the doctor. He explained to me that from my abrupt lifestyle change my body had stopped producing the hormone progesterone which when those levels drop it naturally cause the shedding of the uterus lining and menstrual bleeding to start but because my progesterone levels never rose as they should in the second half of the menstrual cycle, the release of the egg never happened which is what stops menstrual bleeding. Sorry that got graphic but I feel like it’s important to warn other fitness addicts of this concerning medical situation (if my father was reading this he’s probably completely mortified and has just turned off his computer, lol). This is apparently also common in athletes training vigorously. I’m fine now with the help of taking hormones but switching up my routine so abrasively was harmful to health. Everything in moderation my people, everything in moderation.
Really, I like Yoga, I swear.
This post makes me sound like I’m riding the Yoga hate train all the way to the parade but I assure you in reality I’m not. After reviewing my month I only ended up practicing 22 days out of 30, that’s just over two-thirds, which is really only a 73% and that is a D in college grading scale. Yikes. That’s discouraging to read but through my learning and laughing, feeling defeated, feeling empowered, and feeling total release I realize I want this to be a practice that I keep throughout my life. I’ve been a quitter in various things for reasons unknown or simply from outgrowing them but yoga is like anything, it only takes one day of practice to be a continue-er. (I may have made that word up.)
Here is the 30 Days of Yoga in video on my YouTube channel.
Looking to start yoga? Be Prepared, take a class, buy a book, invest in a supportive mat and blocks, and most importantly know what you want out of it because there are many styles and they are not all created equal. If you are interested in Ashtanga you can read more about it here-> What is Ashtanga?