Friday, March 1, 2013

28 Day Yoga Challenge

February I participated in a 28 day yoga challenge. The goal was 28 classes at the studio in 28 days. Despite being unable to visit the studio 8 days out of the month, I managed to log 28 classes.

Poses progressed rapidly at the start of the month. As work accumulated, physical growth stalled out. I had 10 days of doubles, so it's not shocking. As the month drew to a close, it also became clear my body relies upon physical re-balancing from lifting that yoga does not provide. Overall though, a number of poses that were my limit starting the month became comfortable by the end.

Most importantly, the month changed my relationship with yoga. I ran head first into my physical limits. This left me with no choice but to drop the expectation that every yoga class will be my "best" class ever. My overall yoga experience has grown as a result.

Amusingly, it's one of the lessons every instructor mentions every class. I've been doing yoga for almost a year now, but the entire idea is in direct opposition to my personality. The only way I was going to learn was by beating myself into the ground and experiencing the merits first hand.

There were a number of smaller milestones.

- I adapted to the heat and am comfortable with the room at 88-90 degrees.

- Doubles have become a permanent part of my practice. Probably once a week on Saturday.

- I got over my resistance to doing yoga with a range of teachers. This meant learning some new flows and poses.

- I managed to keep my weight up, but had to eat close to a dozen pints of ice cream to do so.

- I learned doubles two days in a row is a bad fit for me. The inroad into my recovery ability is simply too deep. The 4th class is also completely un-productive.

- Lifting provides important balance to all the chatarungas and lunges in yoga. My body missed the high rep accessory work, especially rows and deadlifts.

- I learned to jump back from crow to low plank

- I managed to get my head to the floor during prasarita, though I have yet to lift up into headstand.

- Birds and tree became much more stable poses

- I got comfortable with doing extended side angle with my hand on the floor

- I got comfortable with doing twists hand to block during crescent lunge and chair pose

- My forward folds definitely got deeper, though not quite enough to plant my hands on the floor for a floaty jump back into low plank. I'd guess it's a month or two away.

- My back bends opened towards the beginning of the month, but as time went on, strain in my hamstrings removed the flexibility improvements.

- I did a few 90 second planks and started to learn how to pull my weight into my legs

Injury Prevention
- Pain in my left elbow forced me to re-evaluate form in chatarunga. Instead of coming forward and down, I was pushing like a bench press. Fixing that was key to landing my jump back from crow. I am still prone to doing it incorrectly as I tire.

- Low lunge and half pigeon strained my left knee. I have not figured out the solution, other than modifying to different poses.

- I found myself with jaw pain a few times, after clenching during direct ab work. Old habits die hard.

- Heavy use of moisturizer, a file and new skin let me avoid any serious skin tears in my feet, despite all the extra volume