“Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self.”
–The Bhagavad Gita
“Some days you eat salads and do yoga.
Some days you eat cupcakes and refuse to put on pants.
It’s called balance.”
--Some witty Instagrammer
So New Year’s resolutions are kind of a set up for disappointment often, right? Those cherished promises we make to ourselves with such sincerity and yet, as too often has been the case with me at least, so little follow through. But as a 40 year old-ish man, I decided this year I was going keep my resolution and to join the Yoga Party.
While I have dabbled with a bit of yoga before, it’s never been for any sustained period of time. I work out pretty regularly and I have definitely noticed as I am getting older that flexibility has been the first thing to go. I wake up each morning and it takes a bit longer to get those proverbial wheels greased.
I have done enough viewing at yoga videos on YouTube (I say viewing because I am hesitant to call my previous flailing around ‘yoga’) that its all-mighty-algorithm knew me well enough to throw in a yogic suggestion every once in a while. A couple of days before the New Year there was a new suggested video (hi, big brother!); ‘Dedicate - A 30 Day Yoga Journey - Yoga With Adriene. I read up on Adriene’s programs and this comment stuck out to me: “…if you are healing from an injury or brand new to yoga – you can do this program. You will just need to modify, as will every single one of us at some point on the journey.” Preach!
I decided to go for it as I checked the boxes. I’m relatively new to yoga, consider being over 40 a “type of injury,” and loved the inclusiveness vibe and the can-do attitude coming from Adriene. There was even a nifty calendar that you could print to triumphantly strike out each day that you complete and each day’s practice had a motivational name.
(Side Note: I invited the entire EC staff to join me on this adventure, but no takers! In all fairness I didn’t ask until the night before, but next year I will be sending out a save the date!)
Time to roll-the-dice, roll out my spiffy new yoga mat, and get to work.
Here are some updates from my 30-day yoga journey:
Day 1: YAWN! Woe is me. In order to make sure I stuck to the program I would get up at 5:00 A.M. each day to knock these suckers out. Yes, after a little (pot of) coffee. The first practice was called Discern. It was one of the longer ones with a run time of about 50 minutes, but it was thankfully not too stressful or difficult. I’m feeling OK about this decision. I can do it.
Day 2: I can’t do it. I quit. Kidding!
Day 4: This practice was called Feel and ironically, I did. I was feeling some core strength increase even at this early date so I was pretty excited about that. Still was not feeling increased flexibility and my hamstrings were suddenly betraying me like a Lannister at the red wedding (i.e., stabbing pains). I was not performing even the simple poses, like Bhujangasana, also known as the Cobra Pose, very well.
Day 6: This was a good 30-minute intense practice that really did, as Adriene would say, “bring some fire” into your practice. This euphemism almost always means you will be punishing your abs severely. It was aptly titled Core and it was by far the hardest ab workout in the bunch.
Day 11: This practice was called Courage and was also well named. Overall, it felt good, my flexibility was increasing and hammies were feeling back to normal. But then my beloved instructor lost her ever-loving mind a tad. I could see from the video thumbnail that she was doing an arm balance pose where you balance only on your hands with your knees on your elbows (Bakasana or Crow Pose) and that had my trepidation rising. Um, that is NOT a beginner pose, Ade! Nevertheless, when the time came she was very supportive about just giving it a try if you wanted and there was no shame or pressure, so I tried…and promptly fell on my face. Perhaps others had this issue because this pose would not return again for the duration of the series.
Day 18: Love What is love? Baby don’t hurt me... And Adriene really doesn’t. She is great about being supportive to the viewers and always offers variations for different skill levels. This video was no different. And you just can’t get enough of the love she shows to her gorgeous puppers ‘Benjy,’ who is her faithful costar in each video. He legit never barked once which as a fellow dog owner I do not understand, but certainly envy!
And yes, at this point, I’m clearly drinking the Kool-ADE (pun intended) and just making up my own new age gibberish. Otherworldly-collectiveness? I have no idea…
Day 30: Taaa Daaa…..Liberate was up for our last day. I was looking for something special for the final practice and I wasn’t disappointed. This practice was presented in silence, without any verbal guidance from Adriene. You could look up and follow her moves, but there was nothing except calm music playing and none of her hallmark supportive discourse. While it was pretty cool, invariably I would look up and she had already moved on to the next pose. But I persevered and uttered my most enthusiastic “namaste” at the end of this one. (She ends each practice with a soothing “namaste” which I felt silly saying at first, but eventually grew to a badge of honor.)
I would definitely recommend checking out Yoga with Adriene. You can find the complete ‘Dedicate’ practice here: https://www.youtube.com/user/yogawithadriene. The average time of each of these sessions ran about 20 minutes...so I know you can totally make it happen! I will certainly be incorporating some yoga into my workout routine. Maybe not every day, but I am thinking 3 evenings a week and for a bit longer and more intense period. Hopefully I will join her next 2020 New Year’s challenge: will you be joining me?