30 Day Challenge: Update #1

snowgaHello Everyone! I’m on day 6 of my 30 Day Challenge and good news, I’m still alive! In an effort of satya (commitment to truthfulness), I’ll give you an honest run-down of how things have gone so far by sharing excerpts from my personal journal. Each is followed by my thoughts on various sutras studied each day:

Day One:

It’s my first morning of my 30 days of getting up early and establishing a morning routine, among other goals I’ve set for the next 30 days. I got up at 5:30, did my morning practice, meditated for 20 minutes, put on the tea, and now I’m doing this… Observations thus far: It wasn’t too difficult waking up, probably because I hyped myself up about it. We’ll see how the other days go. I felt like the Tinman on my mat this morning. I don’t know if it’s because I’m sore from last night’s practice or if it’s just a morning thing, but I’m interested to see how/if that changes. Meditation was difficult since I was sleepy. Even though I repeated mantra, I still had some major background vritti (chatter) going on. I also checked the time… twice. On a positive note, I’m happy to be alive and awake and I’m excited to see how this experience goes. On a funny note, I just brewed my Sleepy Time tea instead of my chai.. I hate to waste it, but valerian is about the last thing I need right now.

Yoga Sutra 1.12- Vritti (the whirling of the mind, racing thoughts) can be controlled through practice and non-attachment. Lightbulb moment: We aren’t meant to destroy Vritti but to restrain/yoke it. Practice without non-attachment leads to an inflated ego. Non-attachment without practice can  lead to apathy. Apathy= faux non-attachment.

Day Two:

It’s the last day of February, my least favorite month of the year. I think I’ve handled it pretty well this year. Getting up early today wasn’t so easy, but I did it and taught a 6am yoga class, then did my own practice followed by meditation. It’s so much harder to move and stretch in the morning than it is in the afternoon/evening, but I know it’s good for me and hopefully I’ll get used to it. Meditation is also difficult, but hopefully that will get easier as well. 

Yoga Sutra 1.13- Practice is effort toward steadiness of the mind. This refers to constant mindfulness, not only in asana, meditation, etc, but in the rest of life. It all becomes yoga.

Day Three:

My heart and mind are ready for Spring… renewal, rebirth, I’m there! I actually had very little difficulty getting up this morning, probably because I got to sleep at a decent hour (10:30) last night. Look at me, feeling good on 7 hours sleep! 🙂 Morning practice is… humbling. My body feels so different early in the morning. Anything that’s stiff feels about 5x stiffer. My balance is way different and overall, I just can’t go as deep. It’s not quite as fun to me, but it’s more important to be practicing with devotion and frequency than it is to just have fun. I think I need to do a later practice when I can as well, even if it’s just workshopping a pose, just to keep the motivation burning bright. Morning meditation is only 20 minutes, but I’ve been feeling uncomfortable sitting, so I took half the time in Savasana. My mind has been totally wandering even though I’m chanting mantra at the same time. I”m trying not to become attached to the outcome and be thankful that I’m observing this new morning ritual. Taking the time in stillness and silence is very healthy and I’m glad to be doing it.

Yoga Sutra 1.16- The advanced yoga practitioner practices non-attachment in a way that they have no earthly cravings. They do not need to re-direct their thoughts or tell the mind “no.” It is free. Can you imagine having no earthly cravings or desires… I’m going to have to do a LOT more meditation to get there.

Day Four:

I’m definitely feeling tired in the body. I did a very gentle, mindful practice this morning. When my body is worn out, my asana practice suffers, so it’s important to honor that and not push too hard when I’m feeling this way. My ego wants a kick-butt practice with a million chaturangas everyday, but I think the most compassionate/smart thing I can do it go easy on myself and enjoy this opportunity for rest. I chose a yoga nidra practice for meditation today, which was very nice… the space between sleep and dreams. I must say, I feel very relaxed.

Yoga Sutra 1.26- Ishwara is the guru’s guru. The realized self, free from ego is Purusha, which resides in all beings. Ishwara, or God, is an externalized Purusha. 

Day Five:

My practice this morning is much richer than it has been lately, so I’m really glad I took it easy yesterday. I’m still finding meditation pretty tough. I think I’ll do guided ones for the next couple of days and see how that goes. 

Yoga Sutra 1.27- Om is the sound of Ishwara. It is the sound of creation, evolution, and dissolution. It is found in Meditation and in Nature.

Summarizing what I’ve learned thus far:

1. Getting up early is hard, but not as hard as I thought it would be.

2. My productivity and focus have already shown a tremendous increase. This is due to tapas, the yogic observance of using energy in a disciplined way. this also means to heat and cleanse the body.

3. To show myself kindness and compassion. To honor my body, mind, and spirit and to fulfill their needs appropriately. This reflects the yogic moral called ahimsa which means doing no harm. We extend loving compassion to all other beings including ourselves.

4. Abstaining from alcohol is awesome! This is my way of observing sauca, or purity. My body and mind are focused and unclouded by substance. It’s also my way of observing santosa or contentment. I don’t need a glass of wine to relax or fall asleep. Everything I need is inside me.

My extra challenges for the next 5 days:

1. No TV. My husband and habitually zone out in front of the tube at night. We love to watch all the great shows on Netflix and HBOgo, and that’s ok, but I want to try tuning out and finding other ways to connect and wind down . He’s committed to doing this with me. I’m excited for a TV fast!

2. Add in a nightly meditation. Obviously, I’m having some issues with meditation right now, so I’m upping my commitment to see if that helps.

That’s all for now. I’ll update in 5 days to let you know how it all goes!

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My 30 Day Challenge (Before Turning the Big 3-0)

Bye Bye, Beerasana!

Bye Bye, Beerasana!

I’m excited to say hello to the next decade of my life and goodbye to my messy, fun, and somewhat rootless 20’s. Many people seem to lament each passing year, but deep down inside, I am so stoked to be a real freakin’ lady. My 20’s were a great time to experiment, make mistakes, and figure out who I am. I feel like that picture has become clearer in the last couple of years and now that I see some direction and am laying down some roots, I feel I can start blossoming into my full potential. 30, here I come! 40, 50, and beyond… I’ll deal with you later!

I’ve seen a lot of people make “30 before 30” lists and I’ve been thinking about doing something similar to celebrate the milestone. I began listing things in my head that I haven’t yet done and must try while I still have my youth to blame. I haven’t ever surfed, or skydived, or been to India… but will any of those activities be any less worthy, thrilling, or joyous just because my age starts with a 3 instead of a 2? Highly doubtful.

So instead of endeavoring through a list of extreme activities, I’m taking this whole thing in the opposite direction. I want to start the next decade of my life more disciplined, happier, healthier, stronger, more grounded, more spiritual, and more compassionately open-hearted than ever. So I am challenging myself, starting tomorrow, to make the following commitments for the next 30 days leading up to my birthday, in order to step into my 30’s ready to kick some major asana.

For the next 30 days I will:

  1. Start a morning routine. This includes getting up at 5:30 am (gasp), writing 3 pages, doing my morning yoga practice, meditating for 20 minutes, and drinking some yummy and caffeinated tea. Anyone who knows me well, knows that I LOVE to sleep. I also LOVE to sleep in. But I know that early morning is such a great time to be in peace and to set a healthy foundation for the day. As the great Hedwig said, “To be free, one must give up a little part of themselves.” Well, I hope this makes me very, very free!
  2. Give up alcohol. I feel like I drink too often in the winter. I feel pent-up, and sometimes bored, and use it as a way to relax. I don’t feel like it’s a problem or abnormal, but I want to enter my 30’s sexy and sharp. Alcohol dulls the mind and ain’t nobody got time for that! According to yogic philosophy, one source of right knowledge is direct perception. When we dull our senses, we cease to directly experience the true nature of our reality, which leads to ignorance. The goal of yoga is to gain control over our minds, dissolving ignorance and identifying with our true, spiritual nature. This doesn’t mean I’m abstaining forever, but I’m hoping it makes me more mindful and selective when I do imbibe.
  3. Study the Yoga Sutras. I started the Bhakti Book Club with a fellow Kansas City yoga teacher and we’ll be discussing Pada One and Pada Two of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras at our March Meet-up. This is probably the most important text in yoga and I’m excited to really spend the time contemplating it and discussing it with other interested yogis. I’ll be spending a little time each day to delve in deeply.
  4. Take on a few 5 day challenges. This one is still a little loose in my mind, but I have a few ideas. The first 5 days will be devoted to getting used to the shiny new early mornings, but after that I’ll be devoting the following 5 day blocks to extra challenges. Some ideas are purging and donating many of my things, writing letters to loved ones, giving up television, and refraining from looking in the mirror and stepping on a scale.
  5. Truthfully report how this all goes. I’ll commit to posting every 5 days to keep you updated on how this is all going and I promise to follow the yama of satya, or truthfulness. It will be much more entertaining that way, anyway! I’ll also touch on the 8 limbs of yoga, especially the Yamas and Niyamas (ethical guidelines of yoga) and how this challenge reflects my desire to live within those parameters. I want to pass on these gifts to my own students, so its important for me to embody them myself.

That should cover it! I’ll wrap this up with a lovely and quite appropriate quote by Caroline Adams:

“Your life is a sacred journey. It is about change, growth, discovery, movement, transformation, continuously expanding your vision of what is possible, stretching your soul, learning to see clearly and deeply, listening to your intuition, taking courageous challenges at every step along the way. You are on the path… exactly where you are meant to be right now… And from here, you can only go forward, shaping your life story into a magnificent tale of triumph, of healing, of courage, of beauty, of wisdom, of power, of dignity, and of love.”

I wish you love and luck on your own sacred journey and hope you find some inspiration from mine.

Namaste

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