Getting Stronger

Funny thing happened while taking on the 30-day Yoga Challenge with Debbie Williamson this past month – you know that when you’re consistent and work on improving something everyday – you get stronger. I say this in a “sorta” joking way since that’s a pretty obvious thing. BUT, at least for me, I rarely get myself into that mindset where I’m (really, really) committed to doing “a little something” everyday so that I can grow my skills, my knowledge, my writing, my whatever. So doing this challenge really nailed this concept down for me firsthand. It’s also pretty damn cool connecting with fellow yogis across the country (granted, a good portion of Debbie’s tribe are Wisconsinites, of which, I am also one!) – sharing our goals, our challenges, our small steps being made, the funny things that might happen along the way, perhaps even our deeper observations of self and how this journey might really be striking a cord at the moment. A breath of fresh air.

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30-Day Yoga Challenge

I didn’t do “my challenge” EVERY SINGLE DAY but of the 30 days, I probably hit it for 25. That’s pretty damn good in my book and for those days I didn’t, I decided not to beat myself up about it. Maybe my arms really needed a rest or maybe I just needed not to be accountable that day. The point is that – overall – I really rocked it! Since I’ve been wanting to jump back into chaturanga from crow (see pic below) for a while now, I decided that my daily goal would be to hold crow 2x for a minute each time. Since I really don’t enjoy L-shaped handstand (thus the real challenge) but know it really builds strength, I also held L-shaped handstand 2x daily for a minute each time. I “threw in” holding a forearm plank and high plank too just for kicks and giggles. Now believe me – while holding these poses did get easier, I would still be squirming, losing focus, stopping my breath and itching for the final 30 seconds to GET DONE pretty much every time I held L-shaped. A great practice in patience, perseverance and “breathing through” any real challenge that might arise – on the mat or in life.

bakasanatochaturanga

This was my goal – which I have now achieved – jumping back from crow into chaturanga. Now I’ve got to work on having enough arm strength to float into up dog.

I’m inspired to continue with my “daily challenge” and I’m thinking about expanding and getting a little crazy creative – maybe even starting to hold my full handstand (still against the wall, of course). I tried it out the other day and did a 30-second hold 2x. I even brought my feet from against the wall and challenged my balance, holding in mid-air for like 3 seconds. As my yoga teacher, Heather, always says — milliseconds count! So, I’ll have to keep you updated on my progress. In the meantime, I challenge you to think about stepping up and exploring with something like this – especially if you are already a yogi or even if you aren’t and are interested in seeing what yoga can possibly bring to your life. Start with a simple down dog. Holding and breathing deeply in down dog, even for 20 seconds or so, can help release tension and get the blood moving, just like that. Simple simple! It’s a start that can open the door to a life-changing practice.

Strong Healthy Body

My good friend and yoga teacher, Carlin, usually closes her classes by encouraging us to feel gratitude for our strong health bodies. I love this because I think it’s something that’s so easy to take for granted. I feel so great after I do yoga, what if I couldn’t experience that feeling in my body?

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I’ve taken to “sneaking in a run” during the noon hour a couple of days during the week. I run straight down Kinney Street (gorgeous tree covered boulevard) to Pickard Street and back. Takes about 30 minutes for me and I can totally “zone out” by keeping my gaze toward the straight and long tunneled sidewalk in front of me or I can sample the beauty of the houses and yards all along the way. Either way it’s therapeutic.

During my runs I also get to thinking about how lucky I am to be able to do this. Sure, I choose to make use of my time this way and I have created my work life to accommodate it. But my strong healthy body makes such a delightful gift possible.

I think about my friend and colleague, Dan Digmann, also a runner, but also a person living with multiple sclerosis (MS). I am completely humbled and amazed by his drive and courage to keep his strong healthy body going despite the very real challenge of dealing with something like MS. Dan inspires me to be grateful for every chance I get (or every opportunity I create) to get out and move my body, get the blood pumping, clear the slate, bring new energy and ideas into motion.

So here’s to our strong healthy bodies – however that may be for you at the moment. Here’s also to our capacity to continually enhance and grow our strong healthy bodies, one step at a time. They are truly our support for an amazing life!