As I’ve mentioned several times, I’ve just begun breathe yoga’s 40 Days to Personal Revolution challenge. The challenge involves going to breathe five times a week for any class and attending one lifestyle or asana workshop per week; in addition, I am trying to follow some of Baron Baptiste’s guidelines for the challenge as outlined in his book of the same title.
What an amazing week so far! I’m on day four (four days of yoga in a row—holy crap!), and I feel amazing. I will admit that today I had to fight myself a bit to go to class. I did make it, though, and now I only have one more day left to attend class, preferably tomorrow. The other two days I will use for home practices. I noticed that on day one I was totally pumped to begin; I attended a class in the evening so I could stay for the nutrition workshop afterward. Day two I still had the same momentum, but day three I had a little bit of trouble getting going in the morning. Today, however, I was just tired. I tried to bargain with myself (“Maybe I can go Friday and Saturday instead!”), but eventually I forced myself to go to class. I’m glad I did. Where I felt slightly rundown this morning, despite a decent night’s sleep, my energy has been crazy the rest of the day. If you saw my status on Facebook about feeling like a badass housewife, that’s why: despite any initial reluctance this morning, I cleaned, did the shopping, fixed stuff, did laundry, and wrote two blog entries, and I didn’t feel the need to slow down and rest once! I can already feel the difference the 40 Days challenge is making in terms of my energy.
The theme for week one, according to Baptiste’s book, is presence. The idea is to be fully aware and present throughout everything you do, whether on your mat or otherwise. I actually like the idea of being present and have encountered it before. It sounds almost deceptively simple. Of course your body is present in everyday situations, but what about your mind? How many times have you talked to someone and not really listened? Perhaps you wanted to be somewhere else, or you were worried or anxious about a later event. Being present is important in our distracting, technology-obsessed culture; we need a reminder to get away from the screens around us and just focus on what’s important, whether it’s friends, family, a task or assignment, or just the beauty of the world around us. I try to be present on and off the mat; it does me no good to be distracted in any situation.
One thing, however, that I’ve failed at thus far this week is meditation. Baptiste mentions starting and ending each day with five minutes of stillness in week one to clear your mind, and sadly this is something I’ve either forgotten or didn’t want to do. I’ll see what I can do to change this in the coming weeks, but despite feeling positive overall, this is one area where I don’t feel entirely confident. I am not really very good at clearing my head other than when I’m focused on a really intense yoga practice, but maybe this speaks to my need (and most other people’s) to be constantly doing something rather than just focusing on breath and stillness.
Another way my challenge has differed from the book is in terms of diet advice. On Monday night, I attended my first challenge workshop at breathe, called “Rev Your Metabolism/Boost Your Nutrition,” hosted by owner and dietician Cyndi Weis. Cyndi’s advice resonated with me a lot more than Baptiste’s. For starters, Cyndi actually has credentials in nutrition, unlike Baptiste, and the advice she gave didn’t veer toward wanting to change the diets of others. After all, food is such a personal thing for many, and what works for one person may wreak havoc on the body of another.
Cyndi discussed the idea of revving your metabolism by sprinkling your nutrients (carbs, proteins, and fats) throughout the day to help you avoid crashing or feeling rundown. Carbs give you immediate energy, but proteins and fats, she said, are necessary for longer-term results. Her nutrition advice was in a similar vein in terms of not correcting others but helping the individual tap into his or her needs. Eating whole foods rather than processed ones (i.e. eat the stuff your grandma can actually identify as food) and eating a variety of colors (greens, reds, oranges, purples, browns, etc.) are some of the best things you can do for yourself. Minimizing processed foods should be common sense to most of us now, but sometimes we all need a good reminder (I know I do!). After shopping today, I have a fridge stocked with fruits and veggies, and although I’ve been a strict vegetarian for over a decade, it’s good to remember that even a supposedly healthy diet such as that can always use some improvement.
I am so excited for week two to begin. In terms of trying to set a routine, I think I’ve moved past any initial resistance, and going four days in a row (five tomorrow?) proves to myself that I can do it. Next week I’ll be learning about alignment in yoga, and the theme for the week is vitality. In the meantime, I’ll try to see if I can get myself to meditate at least once before the week is over!