Welcome to Wide Open Wednesday! This – and every – Wednesday, I will write about something that is interesting to me outside the kitchen. I may share an article, a quote, a question, an experience, a highlight, a low moment or whatever else inspires me to put fingers-to-keyboard. It’s pretty much wide open.
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I can’t say I ever thought I would do an online, three week yoga challenge — but I did. And I’m not sure I will do it again.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I signed up for the Yoga Journal 21-Day Yoga Challenge. And by “signed up”, I mean I entered my e-mail address into an online sign up form. Then each day for the next three weeks, I woke up to a friendly e-mail that included a link to a short (12-30 minute) video of a yoga practice. I took my laptop out into the garage, stepped on my sticky mat and followed along with the peaceful instructor.
More and more, the paleo community is recognizing (and helping me recognize) that while eating well is important, diet alone isn’t enough. For optimal health, it’s essential to also consider your exercise, sleep, mobility and stress.
I’m happy with my diet and solid on my exercise. My sleep is a bit touch and go, but mobility and meditation aren’t regular parts of my routine at all.
It’s always seemed to me that yoga was good way to quiet my mind (sort of like meditation) and stretch my body (sort of like mobility.) A decade ago, I did yoga regularly for a year or so. But since then, I can not seem to get on the mat more than once a year and stick with it for more than a few days. And “a few days” might even be exaggerating.
Then one night about a month ago, I found myself thinking, “I know doing yoga is good for me, but it’s just really hard.”
When I said that to myself, a little spark lit up above my head. Isn’t that what people say about switching to paleo? “I know it would be good for me but it seems too hard”? And what’s one of the most successful ways to get people to try paleo for long enough to develop new habits and see results? A 30-day challenge. Hmmm…
Almost the next day, by coincidence, a link to the Yoga Journal’s 21-Day Yoga Challenge showed up in my Twitter feed. “Sign up here and you will get a short video sent to your inbox everyday for three weeks,” the link promised very peacefully.
“I’m in,” I decided.
The first day was a little rough. I cued up the first video and noticed it was 22 minutes. “ OMG –I don’t have 22 minutes.”
Then I thought, “Double OMG! I can’t quit on the very first day. Just do it.” So I did. And I did the prescribed session every day for the following 20 days as well, ending last Saturday.
Overall, I can’t say 21 days of yoga rocked my world. I am not sure it made me happier, more centered or more relaxed. I don’t even know if it made me more flexible. But I did have a few good takeaways (including THIS one.)
One of the main reasons I have always said that I haven’t been able to establish a regular yoga practice is that I don’t have the time. Well, it turn out that I do. Once I got on board, it wasn’t even really hard to find the half hour do this every day. I just added it to my morning routine for the most part. This is a valuable reminder that I am committed to something, I have time.
This challenge also reinforced that I am pretty goal driven. (No surprise there, if you know me.) Without a doubt, the only reason I made it through all 21 days without missing one is that it was a “challenge.” I set the goal and I was going to reach it, goshdarnit! Knowing that I react well to this structure will be useful the next time I want to make a change.
Takeaway number three was that yoga is not really a good warm up for CrossFit. I mean, physically, it was great. But by the time I had completed my last sun salutation, I was peaced out and had no particular interest in aggressively grabbing 95 pounds from the ground and pushing it over my head multiple times. After two days, I switched to doing yoga as a cool down – instead of warm up — to CrossFit. This was a much better fit and allowed me to ease into my day nicely.
What is most interesting to me about the experience is that even though I enjoyed doing the movements and felt great immediately after a session, I am not sure I got enough out of it that I will continue to do yoga regularly. It was super pleasant but didn’t give the that endorphin rush or sense of accomplishment that I get from other activities I make time for on a regular basis. It also didn’t seem to meaningfully affect how I felt during the day.
Perhaps I need more than 21 days reap those greater benefits? Perhaps — but unless I decide to sign up for a 60 or 90 day yoga challenge, I may never find out.
Think I should commit to a longer period? Am I missing out? Or have you had the same experience? I’m curious! I’d love to hear about it.