August 20th, 2013
So it started after the Euro trip. After my first foray into yoga in many many months, I was so content with my small amount of practice in Amsterdam and Antwerp, that I felt that I had to come back and get this practice happening again. I tried to be such a devotee, but laziness and the obsessions with work led me to letting go of the practice. An initial break when I retired from performing was enough, but I let this break go on for way too long. Getting involved with training in a different way, via the CrossFit initially brought back a little, but never to the extent that I had before.
Moving into a new space and having a new area devoted entirely to massage and yoga, I found myself not devoting any time to practice, and instead just focusing on the work aspect of treating. Of giving others the gift of energy and time and space. Heading overseas and actually having a break for the first time in 2 years saw me realise that I need to give this to myself as well.
So returning from Europe, I was determined to give this another shot. I have the space, I have the time and I have the inclination - now all I needed was the commitment.
Day 1 - I am so excited to be doing this. The one good aspect of jet lag is that you have the chance to re-set your body clock. Rising early and greeting the sun is something I used to enjoy so much of. I think that in the past few years, I have been exercising later, working later and eating later and everything then has been getting pushed later and later in to the evening, Including having downtime. My downtime, after cooking and doing domestics and then working some more, was getting to midnight and 1am. So, the return to circadian rhythms has seen me rising early and in good spirits. Of course it doesn't hurt that I have a gorgeous climate that is sunny and warm at 6am in the morning in sub tropical Sydney.
I'm excited by my practice. Something I haven't felt when I have tried to re-invigorate this back into my life before. I was always seeing it as a chore as opposed to an indulgence. It was part of my work practice before. But I do know the benefit and the good that I get from this.
First practice - ouch. everything feels very very limited. I am unable to do the simplest moves with ease and my ankles and knees are aching a little. I am shaking with the effort of using the poses and postures. My breathing is ok, though I am aware of how shallow my breath has become. Too much exhalation and not enough inhalation I think.
30 minutes of a good solid practice and at the end of it, I am feeling like Savasana. The trick today was - know your limits. Don't expect to push and be in perfect 180 split. Go to where you can and find the spot where you can sit (or stand) and be comfortable in the pose.
Day 3 - feeling so invigorated by my practice. I am feeling the tightness ebbing and flowing and that my body is opening up to the poses a little more. I was hoping that I would get through today's practice, but knowing it was a Saturday, I was not sure if I would make it. I actually woke up wanting to do my practice.
Day 6 - I feel great. I woke up this morning at 4am! Crazy. I was wide awake after getting a reasonably early night to bed. Being awake before the sunrise. Today's practice felt really open. As though my body was remembering what it was to do these positions in the past and how it used to be able to do them. Getting full 180 rotation on inverted trikonasana and being able to reach the arm as opposed to really forcing it. My scapula retraction is already improving and I can feel that initial position easier to get into. My breath is really noticeable today. I felt when I was breathing forcefully and I am reminding myself to breathe slowly. Not too much exhalation. Controlled and quite on the exhale. Really feeling as though I am heading in the right direction.
Day 12 - Have missed a couple of sessions which was unavoidable really, though managing to get the occasional half practice in. I really notice the difference in my shoulders and back. Its so much easier to open up my ribs in the morning. Back extensions are noticeably tight whereas before I would just keep pushing through.
Understanding exactly why I have had to spend 4-6 months of walking down the stairs backwards in the morning because of my volleyball calves was probably something I didn't realise I could control. Tournament last night and this morning, I notice that my ankles are like glass. After a yoga practice - no worries. I think the sustained practice will make a big dent in that post event recovery.
Its not about accepting that you are getting older, its about doing what you can and what you 'should' to make sure that you stay in good condition. Changing up your exercise regime and going into 'remedial' mode is an important part of maintaining yourself beyond your younger years. Keeping yourself at the top of your game requires you to tweak your 'game'. Andre Agassi did it, David Beckham did it, and I am pretty sure if you look at any successful athlete who has lasted beyond youthful exuberance and maintained a presence at the top into his 30's and beyond, they have all had to re-assess and change the way they do something. Its not about accepting you are getting older. It's about accepting that you can't play the same way and changing and adapting to go with it.
I am now getting 'used' to my practice and miss it when I don't get to do it. So that one or two days missed in the schedule has made an impact because it makes you realise just how much you 'enjoy' or feel good after doing it. This morning's practice was hard as I was beaten and battered after yesterday. Yet here I am sitting upright at the desk and feeling engaged and focused and feeling my back engaged. Loving this.
Day 13 -
Ouch. Ok so this morning was a
challenge. After heading back into the
CrossFit world last night with a 7x7 WOD I am feeling it this morning. Half moon was ok and gentle but the final
single leg standing series was a challenge in focus more than anything. Moved straight from one pose into another
simply so I could keep the momentum going.
And yet I managed a push for height on the Standing Head to Knee (Dandayamana-Janushirasana). Surprised even myself with that one. The breath really helps and far from feeling like I am almost falling out of poses when I hit the final breath out, now I am wanting to control and even hold on for longer.
Day 18 - Ok so I had a bit of a fall off the yoga wagon. The weekend got away on me and I didn't make practice yesterday. And then this morning I didn't make practice again. But I have just done an evening practice. Usually with evening and morning practices, you have to adjust and make a different type of practice out of it. I remember doing evening practices when I first started delving into yoga back in University. It's such a peaceful time and its very indulgent when you are there in the darkness with just the lights and the focus. Its a very calming practice and far from waking you up for the day, it really settles you down and makes you feel completely calm and peaceful. Sitting here I am so sitting up straight and my back feels engaged and in place. The seated postures are much more appropriate for evening practice and the rotations and floor work is very engaging with the core. You can really open up in some of the poses too as the body has been active during the day, so the sense of release is really powerful during an evening practice. It's funny, but I think I will actually look forward to doing some more of these if I happen to miss a practice in the morning now. I guess it's also a really amazing feeling of calmness and connection that you get from the chance to indulge in your own space at the night hour. Got into a full Bhunjagasana (cobra) tonight without feeling my back strain. Even had a slight 'clunk' in the lower spine which felt SOOOO GOOD. Definetly something to enjoy and do AGAIN.
Day 21 - Can't believe I actually made it here without even almost thinking about it. As you can see, there is just no reason why I wouldn't keep going with this and keep the practice up. I think the over-riding concept is that Yoga is great for the body for the obvious physical benefits, but it is also briliant for keeping your mind in check as well. Giving your head space and time to unwind, to be quiet and to give some clarity to the busyness that can occupy you sometimes. Rather than taking a holiday all the time, this kind of practice can give you the space to step back and see things for what they are and perhaps allow you the time and space to be able to judge things clear of subjective viewpoints. My Chinese Doctor told me this was good for me and he is so right. Keeping myself going with acitivity and exercise and always pushing and going and being 'energetic' - this type of practice combats all that and addresses the internal balance, allowing you to be 'active' when you need to be because you are taking care of the 'passive' as well. Ahh that balance syndrome. I've had a few moments along the way here where I could feel myself getting tugged along a certain path and it was after spending that quality time in practice that I found the quiet calm place where I could see that for what it was and keep my cool head on. Not get wound up in the emotional decisions and just be really at ease, seeing the task at hand and making a valued judgement and action plan. Perspective indeed.
I can't recommend this enough. Even if it is only one session per week, doing this sort of thing is so vitally important, especially if you are someone like me who is bouncing off the walls all the time. This actually gives you the energy to do exactly that. On the fridge at my work there is a whiteboard and people are writing on it "Share your drugs Peter", "what are you on Peter". It's easy. Have some downtime and make SURE you invest in it. Don't plan to do it - get in there and do it - just once and you will feel so good that 21 days won't feel like any time at all.
PS - I actually lost the practice for a week sometime after completing this challenge. It was amazing how quickly I got back into that 'frantic' headspace. If I needed a reminder of how important it was to do this - that was it.