My year of yoga

Today is a milestone

It’s my 365th day of a regular yoga practice. A year ago today, I made a commitment to practice yoga at least 4 times a week for 12 months. And today, I thought I’d put together a few of the thoughts rattling around in my brain during the last few weeks. These thoughts do not represent me as an acupuncturist or as a medical practitioner. They are the thoughts of a newbie yogi finding her practice…

So, before my year of yoga began (and it really does feel like a distant past) I’d often run, sporadically do yoga (1-2 times a week) and occasionally do some Tai Chi.

My decision to stop running and take up a regular practice, initially began in response to an injury involving my piriformis. This time last year, I couldn’t make it through four days of clinic without ending the last day by taking a taxi home – roughly a 12 minute walk – because it hurt too much to walk that far.

After 6 weeks of trying different classes, the Hot yoga Studio where I work, had a 40 day Yoga Challenge. The Challenge? To complete 30 classes in a 6 week period and pop a wee sticker for each class on a wallchart.

The Challenge really inspired me – getting a sticker for each class enabled me to track my progress and give me a sense of completion. After 12 weeks of yoga, my piriformis symptoms had dramatically diminished and my sense of confidence soared. Further, the 40 day Challenge helped me take a really first important step in my practice – using Cody…

Cody – keeping track of my achievements

Cody is an iPhone/iPad app that can track all sorts of physical activities, but I use it to track yoga.

I’ve tracked every class I’ve completed, whether at home on my mat or sweating it out in the heat of the Studio. Cody is the way I know I’ve completed 304 yoga workouts in my 365 day commitment. Cody tells me that today, I’ve totalled 319 hours and 15 minutes of yoga, with an average of 5 workouts a week. It motivates me to keep going, to keep finding ‘my edge’ and reminds me that some days are days of rest.

Zac – being in my practice, rather than being in my head

While Cody helped me establish a regular practice, it was really Zac – a rather fantastic yoga teacher – who helped me ‘find’ my yoga practice.

After those first 3 months, I noticed I really enjoyed the Power vinyasa classes. (A while back my Tai Chi teacher advised me that my constitution type means that a more physical practice will help me feel more energetic and balance out all that extra yin I have. Power vinyasa or ‘PV’ definitely fits the bill in both departments).

Zac also helped me modify my early PV practice, so that I would build strength without damaging myself or falling into poor alignment. He promised me that if I made the adjustments he gave, that the yogi I imagined in my head, would eventually reflect in the mirror of our Studio. In point of fact, what Zac did was to take me out of my head, with all its thoughts and projections and into my body. For me, this defines the essence of what a yoga practice is.

After a further 9 weeks of modifying my PV practice, I had built the strength to do my first chaturanga without using my knees. Today I have biceps – I actually have baby apples on both arms that stick out when I flex them. Thanks Zac!

No end goal with yoga

There’s so much I’ve learned, and still so much to learn in my yoga practice. But something fundamentally shifted when the lovely Helen stated this in her Sampler class two weeks ago: “There is no end goal with yoga”. All the ideas I had about where I would be after this 365 day period, all my goals and aspirations, they all just melted away when I heard this.

Now when I arrive on mat, my goal is to be on my mat. Not thinking about treatment strategies, my day ahead, my day before, not even thinking about the yoga ahead of me. I now notice when I breathe and move in synchronicity. I often fall out of this state, but can more easily fall back in again.

Some days I can do crow pose – like the picture at the top of this post. Some days I can’t. Initially, I found this frustrating, but now I find this great. It means I’m in my body, in my practice. And like anything earned – we have days of awesomeness and days of sucking eggs. And sucking eggs, allows me to be a beginner, to stop trying and just be.

Namaste

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