Funny, this was supposed to be a New Years post, looking back on 2013 and ahead to 2014. Why I’m such a procrastinator on this thing, I have no idea. My last post was all the way back in August, when I just wrapped up a 75 day challenge before heading off to Pennsylvania for a week’s vacation. At that point I was looking forward to visiting the brand new Bikram Yoga Lehigh Valley, which just opened near my home town. As it turns out, I was able to do 5 classes that week. The studio is fabulous and beautiful!
Jump ahead to October My home studio announced a 30 day “Gratitude Challenge” designed to culminate on Thanksgiving. There was a wall chart in the studio where, instead of just checking off the days of your challenge, you wrote what you were grateful for each day. Sounded like a great idea, and having already done 30, 60, and 75 day challenges this year, no way can I resist a challenge, so of course I had to do it. The pic above was taken in December, wearing the t-shirt those who completed the challenge received. It’s my second studio challenge t-shirt, with many more to come I expect. (Actually I do NOT need more t-shirts but what the hell, yoga t-shirts are a new genre to collect, lol.)
Since it’s hard for me to stop at “30”, my plan was to keep going and see where it leads. My December schedule was fairly favorable to extending the challenge into the New Year. I would hit 60 right before New Years, 90 would be the end of January and 100 would be early February. My personal best so far is 102 (see previous post), so if I get anywhere near that, I have to go for it. When I did the 102, I was actually shooting for 120, so maybe that’s where I’ll end up if I can manage it.
As anyone who read my previous posts knows, I speak of challenges as X classes in X days, not necessarily X days in a row. My schedule does not allow for the normal consecutive day challenge. I have my kids on alternate weeks, meaning one week I can go to 6:00 am every day and the other week I have to get my youngest off to school. It’s kind of a binge and fast pattern. I manage to average a class a day by doing as many doubles as possible on my binge weeks and weekends. Depending on what time of year it is, my kids are involved in swimming, basketball or baseball, so even that takes some juggling. The key point is, after my parenting priorities, my practice is at the core of who I am and what I do. I organize and prioritize everything else around it.
Day 60 was Christmas Eve, and the way the weeks fell, I was only on class 55 so I had to keep going. I was caught up by day 75 but now 102 plus was clearly in reach so that was no stopping point. I kept pace with 95 in 95, but fell behind again by day 100. I had 97 in 100 and 100 in 102.
Now I was determined not to stop until my X classes in X days matched up at some point beyond 102. I charted out a plan that would get me to 120 and reach my original goal. But it wasn’t going to be so easy. It was now my older son’s swim season and he had a series of out of town weekend meets that kept me from doing my usual weekend doubles that enabled me to keep pace. I was continually a couple classes behind at 120, 130, and 140. I had a good binge week coming up to 150 but that weekend was my son’s last swim meet, State championships! Ironically, Esak Garcia was holding a seminar and posture clinic at my studio the same weekend and I was going to have to miss that too (aargh!)
According to wikipedia: “Nowruz marks the first day of spring or Equinox  as and the beginning of the year in the Persian calendar. It is celebrated on the day of the astronomical Northward equinox, which usually occurs on March 21 or the previous/following day depending on where it is observed. The moment the sun crosses the celestial equator and equalizes night and day is calculated exactly every year and families gather together to observe the rituals.”
So happens that the company I work for is run by Persians and we are closed for Nowruz every year. The significance of this is that it gave me an extra weekday to squeeze in an extra class, which enabled me to hit 147 classes in 147 days on the Friday before the weekend of my son’s swim meet and Esak seminar. Since I couldn’t make classes that weekend and the following week was an “off” week, I had to call the challenge complete at 147. It turns out to be pretty cool symbolism extending the GRATITUDE from Thanksgiving, through one of the most brutal winters in Chicago history, to the first day of Spring! There were many many days that started going to class at 6:00am when the air temp was below 0 and the windchill was -30 to -60, but I never missed class because of it. No, you get up and go, weather is just weather. Also amazing is that my studio never cancelled a class due to the weather. We were there every day even in the most brutal conditions. We have some great committed teachers willing to come out no matter what to teach those classes too. That’s hard core! Crazy…we’re ALL fanatics! It’s addictive, it’s contagious!
When I wrapped up this challenge at 147 days, it consisted of 55 days of single classes and 46 doubles. The most consecutive days I did was 11, a few times. The most consecutive days of doubles I did was 4, also a couple times. My doubles were either back to back on weekend mornings or 6:00 am and 7:30 pm on weekdays. There are things I like about both types of doubles. Back to backs are the most challenging but sometimes the second class can be better than the first because you’re already so stretched out, you feel extra flexible, as long as you can manage your energy and focus on your breathing. That’s really where you can work on your focus and meditation and stillness, because you don’t have the raw energy to push through the class. AM/PM doubles are easier and you still get the benefit of being a little extra loose from the morning classes. Some of my best classes ever have been evening classes after an early morning class. Your energy is back to normal and your body is still more stretched out.
One thing I learned through this period is how GRATEFUL I am that I discovered this yoga. I go through most of my days amazed at how good I feel and not being able to wait till my next class. I also believe more in more in my blog title, Always Great Never Easy. As much as I love going to class each day and feel so great afterwards, the one word I would still never use to describe it is “easy”. There are classes that feel good and smooth and there are classes that you feel like you’re gonna die. I am not immune from those at all. You can’t tell going into it what kind of class its going to be. I had great classes where I didn’t feel so strong, and I had hard classes when I felt great going in. Who knows…no judgments, no expectations, just focus on your breathing, follow the words, and do your best for TODAY.
Hopefully, with this finally off my chest, I will get in the habit of posting a little more frequently. I definitely need to do one more very soon as May 1 was my 3rd Yogaversary. I will have more to say about that soon. Namaste.