Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Day 30

I did it. I made it to Day 30.

It was not a happy-go-lucky, easy practice this morning. In fact, it's amazing that I practised at all, given how I was feeling. But I did - I practised for an hour and a half, just as I always do. It's certainly a testament to the power of habit and routine.

You know that old saying that it takes 21 days to form a habit? Apparently, that's just a myth, loosely based on a study done in the 70s. But software developers offer '30 day trials' in the hopes that the software will become so habitual that the user will fork over money for a licence.

Well, I've had my 30 day trial of the Ashtanga Primary Series and here are some thoughts:

It's a routine
Every night, I leave my mat out (after my short evening practice) and also lay out clothing, props, and Mysore rug for my practice the next morning. Then I go to sleep. After I get back from my walk in the morning, all I have to do is hop into my yoga clothes and I'm ready to go. Even if I don't feel like practising after my walk, everything is just THERE and it's beckoning to me. So I just do it. It's no great feat of will power, really. It's just a routine.

I've been meditating for years, but it ebbs and flows. Over the past month, I combined my meditation practice with my Ashtanga routine - I meditate for a brief period following my practice. Sometimes it goes well, sometimes it doesn't, but I almost always meditate. Interestingly, I find myself meditating other times too - to centre myself after brunch in a noisy restaurant, in the evening before bed. I've started meditating because I *want* to.

I've already written about the numerous comments about the muscle tone in the arms. From a purely practical standpoint, I'm noticing new strength and I'm using it in my day-to-day life: everything from carrying my folding bike around to lifting myself from a seated to standing position to carrying heavy boxes.

Put simply, I crave the bad stuff less. I had already been on a 'sugar-free' diet before I started doing this, but I've found myself craving junk food a lot less. When I do break down and eat it, it doesn't taste as good to me. I crave food that's good for me, like veggies and rice and fruit. This has all led to...

Weight loss
I'm pretty sure that Ashtanga is responsible for boosting my metabolism which, in turn, allowed me to shed some extra weight I had been carrying around for about a year. It would be dishonest of me if I didn't mention this very-much-appreciated, but not necessarily expected benefit of this system of yoga. I certainly don't want my three readers to get the impression that this is the primary motivation for my practice, but I'm not exactly missing that weight either. ;-)

I've had some gains and a few setbacks, but overall, I think my practice is stronger. The true test will come in the fall, when I return to study with my teachers. What interests me the most is whether my skills in the poses of the Primary Series will transfer to some of the other poses I've been struggling with.

Will power
There is definitely something pretty special about doing this thing with such regularity over the past month. As I go through my days, I know that I've already done something challenging in the morning, so the rest of the day doesn't feel as hard. I've also been getting up early for my practice, which structures my days and seems to pave the way for more productivity in the morning and early afternoon.

Anyways, all of that is just a distraction from the real story, which is how bad my practice sucked this morning. Ladies Holiday is on the near horizon and my low back hurt so much. I modified a lot:

I blew off Supta Konasana and did Supta Baddha Konasana instead (and my lower back felt SO much better after that)
I didn't roll up into Ubhaya Padangustasana and Urdhva Mukha Paschimottanasana, instead opting to do come into them from Navasana
I blew off the entire shoulderstand series in closing and just did Viparita Karani against the wall.

Some days, it's not a great practice, or even a good practice, but just a plain old practice and that's fine too.


Cupcakes & Yoga said...

Congratulations on completing your 30 days. Reading your recap is very inspiring!

Kaivalya said...


This is the longest 'trial' I've ever given to another system of yoga (outside of the Iyengar-based Hatha in which I was trained). It's also the most committed I've been to home practice in a couple of years, so it's definitely having a positive impact on my practice as a whole.

One month down, eleven to go! ;-)