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Posts Tagged ‘daily yoga’

I survived 40 days of yoga and lived to tell the story. Sounds like a cheesy t-shirt slogan. But, to the delight of those around me I powered through and even came home with a smile on my face and a skip in my step following the last class.

I'm done!!

I have to admit, the last few days were a bit ridiculous, squeezing in missed classes on top of the rest, but c’est la vie. And now that I know that I can mentally, emotionally and physically endure yoga every day of the week it will be more difficult to come up with a lame excuse to not continue this new lifestyle. Although, after taking a few days off, I plan to adopt a three/four times per week schedule instead of seven. I figure I should set an achievable goal that I will be happy with, rather than a far-fetched one that might just irritate me.

In the future, if I decide to do something equally as challenging, I intend to find a few buddies to go through it with. I did meet a few people through this process and I started recognizing most of the people in my classes, but it is a bit difficult to make friends with someone when they are all twisted up and focused on a dot on the wall as they hold their balance.

I wish there was more of a 40 Day community with weekly group classes and advice on how to support the lifestyle of a super dedicated yogi – ie. Overuse, injury, nutrition, rest, etc. Maybe this would have contradicted the theme of personal exploration?

In the end, it was well worth the kick in the pants and while I complained a little loudly at times, I enjoyed the process and hope it wasn’t too unbearable for those who were naturally dragged along for the ride.

Yoga and I will soon resume our relationship after a brief hiatus. We just need some space from each other for this thing to work! I am pretty sure it is in the cards though, as my lover and I have just secured a new abode about a block away from the Semperviva City Studio at Broadway and Maple. I think we are meant to be…that yoga and I.

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So the other day my boyfriend joked that my new home is the yoga studio. I didn’t laugh. It’s really not funny. In the last 48 hours I have been to the studio four times. Today is day 38 of 40 days of yoga.

I have done everything in my power to attend a class each day for the 40 Day Yoga Challenge. I have traipsed back and forth in pouring rain in my brand new winter jacket and dragon-printed gumboots, orange yoga mat bag slung over my back. I have sucked up my morning hate-on to attend a handful of early classes, arriving at work glossy and gross (we have a gym with showers, thank god). I have groaned and moaned, rearranged my schedule and asked that no one request my presence until after 7pm during weeknights.

This guy has the right idea!

Despite my diligence, I missed three days. Thankfully Semperviva allows participants in its 40 Day Yoga Challenge to make-up the missed days by tacking them onto other days. Now that the final week has set in, I am pushing myself to make-up those missed classes and hit 40 classes in 40 days. I figure that I am so close I might as well push through and sleep all weekend.

On both Sunday and Monday I did two classes each day. I am pretty sure my grumpy morning vibe and terrible agonizing faces kept the instructor of Monday’s AM class steering clear of my side of the room. By mid-afternoon yesterday I was falling asleep at my desk, chin in my hand, head resting against my computer screen. It was a post-lunch sugar crash combined with a terrible dehydration headache. Two things I was hoping to get better at during this challenge were eating breakfast every morning and drinking the eight or ten glasses of water I should be drinking each day. Evidently I have failed at both.

I walked into the evening class after work and was met by Callie [one of Semperviva’s instructors] and her giant, beaming smile. “You are almost done Jenn!” she grinned.

Up until that moment I had planned on spending the class ‘meditating’ in Savasana (Corpse Pose) – the pose of total relaxation. Maybe it was Callie’s contagious energy before class, or perhaps a bit of my own ego taking over, but I managed to muster up a few more kilojoules of energy and flow through class alongside everyone else.

I spent the rest of the evening drinking glass after glass of water…and even managed to prepare a stew in my crock pot at 11:00pm, to spend the night dreaming sweet dreams of spices and simmering beef. At least I don’t have to cook now for a few nights.

So, with the final three days left, I have one class tonight, one tomorrow and two on Thursday. I need to go prepare my water-drinking, breakfast-eating strategy. Good luck to all those doing the challenge! I am really, really, really looking forward to the Thursday night wrap-up class.

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The halfway point has come and gone. Only 14 days to go…but does anyone even know why forty is the number of choice in the Semperviva 40 Day Yoga Challenge? Why not 25 days of yoga, or 11, or 72? Figuring there must be more to the number forty than someone simply deciding that it had a good ring to it, I employed my good friend Google to get to the bottom of it.

To understand a people, you must live among them for 40 days.

~Arabic proverb

It seems that the number forty has several historic references. In ancient texts and the Bible, it is revered as the length of time required for enacting lasting change. Here is what I found:

Yogic science confirms that it takes 40 days to fully develop a new life-promoting habit or to drop a current destructive habit. – Semperviva

In the Kundalini tradition, kriyas are often done for 40 days as it is believed that the 40 day time period is the minimum requirement for establishing a new routine. – Stanford.wellsphere.com

Forty days has historically been a significant time period in many world religions. In the Old Testament it rained for forty days and forty nights. In Christianity there are the forty days of Lent. Forty-day cycles are very important in the Sikh religion as well. Perhaps this is because your physical body renews all the cells in your bloodstream every forty days. For whatever reason, forty days has always been a mystical period of time. – http://manashchatterjee.vox.com/

The number 40 holds particular significance in the Bible and refers to a precise number, not just a long period of time. There are at least ten instances in the Old Testament and New Testament where 40 occurs, either in years or days, e.g. it rained for 40 days and 40 nights [during Noah’s flood], Moses was on the mountain 40 days and 40 nights, the Israelites wandered 40 years, Jesus fasted in the wilderness for 40 days and was seen on the earth for 40 days after His crucifixion. – Wikipedia

In modern Christian practice, Lent consists of the 40 days preceding Easter. The dead are usually mourned for forty days in Muslim cultures. Muhammad was forty years old when he first received the revelation delivered by the archangel Gabriel. The Quran says that a person is only fully grown when they reach the age of 40. – Wiktionary

Some non-spiritual references of the number 40 include (also taken from Wiki):

  • in the Saying “Life begins at forty”
  • in the expression “forty winks”, meaning a short sleep
  • the distance run in the 40 yard dash in American football scouting
  • the number of years of marriage as the ruby wedding anniversary
  • the code for direct dial international phone calls to Romania
  • in the song “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson, the lyrics state that “For forty days and for forty nights / the law was on her side” in reference to the Genesis story of Noah.
  • The Rolling Stones CD “Forty Licks”
  • “40”, a 1983 song by U2 from their album War
  • “40′” is the title of a song by Franz Ferdinand
  • lifespan of fruit fly is approximately 40 days
  • many distilled alcoholic beverages (such as vodka) contain approximately 40 percent alcohol by volume
  • the number of thieves in Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, from Thousand and One Nights

So there you have it. A brief history of the number 40.

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“Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.”                                           Ovid(43BCE-c.17CE), RomeChild's Pose

Just as I was feeling all fabulous and like a brand new gal, I went to class and hit the wall. I did one plank, moved into downward dog and turned into Gumby. My shoulders were sore and weak and felt like they wouldn’t make it through one breathe, let alone four or five. Never have I used the relaxing, restful Child’s Pose more than on this night.

Chatting with Semperviva instructor Callie Gray after the class, she asked about my shoulders, saying that it looked like I was having a rough time. We came to the agreement that it was probably a combination of being worn out from all this new activity and having my shoulders scrunched up by my ears from carrying a whole whack of heavy groceries home the night before and from working eight hours a day hunched over a computer.

Like many people, I sometimes find it difficult to listen to my body and respond to it; instead pushing it to keep up with everything and everyone around me. I like that yoga is about the personal journey and finding acceptance for our own practice and imperfections. In this particular class my body needed rest, and I listened.

“Resting between asanas allows you to become more receptive in your yoga as it gives time for both your body and your mind to process the effects, whether physical, mental or emotional, of each movement. Rest in Child’s Pose after postures you find challenging, observing the flow of your breath, in and out.” – taken from 1001 Pearls of Yoga Wisdom; Liz Lark.

Semperviva Instructor Callie Gray, had some great advice for anyone practicing yoga, specifically to those participating in the Forty Day Challenge:

“Remember to take home the idea that everyone can do yoga. It doesn’t Callie Grayhave to be a headstand. Know the accomplishment is the intention. We all know life throws its challenges. If you reach Day 16, Day 20 or Day 27 and that’s it, remember that reaching that point has been a step towards change. Hang on to that. We tend to look at the end goal, but the road is just as important.”

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Despite the lack of chatter on here the last few days, the challenge is still on (DAY 16). Still bending, still stretching and absolutely loving it. My girlfriend commented the other day that I am glowing…and I am pretty sure I am not preggers, so it must be the yoga.

 A Force of Energyjumping people

I am really digging my new lifestyle and how great it makes me feel. I like that I can see some toned definition in my mid-section, feel like I can walk on water after class and have loads of energy to boot.

One of my personal goals for the Semperviva 40 Day Yoga Challenge was to tone up my stomach area. If I could direct my love for ice cream and beer to certain body parts I would be sending it directly to my ass. I have been happily growing it for the past few years, but in this time, my tummy decided it wanted equal attention and started storing excess for winter hibernation. I have had this fear that in the process of toning my abs and back, my bum would be lost. But so far, so good. It is amazing how much posture helps with this. With all the focus in class on lengthening the spine and protecting the lower back, I am no longer slouching in my swivel chair at work – slouching can obviously give the appearance of a little belly because everything is relaxed and hanging out.

 The increase in energy right after class is a highlight. I come out rejuvenated, pumped and ready to take on the world. This has once or twice resulted in me heading right to the grocery store to buy up every fruit and vegetable in sight for lack of a better, immediate excuse for burning it off. Despite the feeling of instant energy though, I have noticed an overall burnout. This can probably be attributed to my insane work environment lately, but I wonder if this new daily physical exertion might require a few extra winks each night…

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Tonight will be my ninth yoga class in a row. My co-worker was asking me this morning how it is going, if I am noticing any changes physically or mentally. I joked that I am a little less irritated in the morning at having to structure my day around my fuchsia yoga mat, but joking aside, have I noticed any changes?

For starters, it has just become second nature to grab my yoga clothes and mat when I head to work in the morning and, although a bit premature, I am already contemplating whether or not I can/will carry out this routine beyond the intended 40 days.

I have noticed that my mind is happily taking a break during each class. I, like many folks, am a worrier. If I run out of things to ponder and mull over in my head, I find new things. Relax is a foreign word that my brain translates only on official vacation. The rest of the year is spent jamming as many things and thoughts into it as possible. With a personal motto of living life to the fullest, I do so with such vigor that I tend to think more about what is next, instead of what is now. That being said, one of my personal goals is to take the feeling of being ‘present’ out of the yoga studio and into my day-to-day life.

I am consciously eating less crap. Even during that time of the month where I typically flourish on chocolate ice cream and salt and vinegar chips (this is a remarkable feat just in itself). Last week I was invited to Dairy Queen for a treat, and I passed. I went to a scary movie and turned down popcorn, even though at the very least, it would have been useful to hide behind.

I am bending just a smidge more with every breath. I receivyogaed my father’s denim in the flexibility department. I don’t bend. At the beginning of class, I am the one bent over waving at my feet from a distance. The good news is though, that I am noticing a difference. With every exhale I do sink a little deeper and slowly, but surely, I will get there.

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