For the 40 Days challenge, Week 2 was all about vitality–“living a life of enlightened knowledge and action,” according to Baptiste. I didn’t really feel it much at the beginning of the week, or at all for most of the week. Even though I was happy that I made it through Week 1, Week 2 started miserably for me. The weather went from gorgeous on Friday of Week 1 (80 degrees and sunny!) to 30 degrees with (I hope) one last bit of snow on Monday morning. Crazy! On Monday, I was all set to go to a workshop on alignment, but I honestly looked out the window and wanted nothing to do with driving in that mess. I called breathe and rescheduled for Cyndi’s Digestion workshop on Tuesday night, and later on Monday I attended Dahn’s 1:00 p.m. class in Pittsford (one of my favorites). Even driving in that was horrible, but I made it to class and enjoyed myself. Despite the crap weather, my practice improved my mood, and suddenly the snow wasn’t so horrible.
On Day 2, I went to breathe owner Cyndi Weis’s class at 6:00 p.m., and we did a lot of core work; my abdomen felt magical by the end of the night! Afterward I stayed for her workshop on digestion to improve nutrition. I won’t go into detail on it, but it kind of reminded me of a certain song from the Scrubs musical episode. The information was, as always, very interesting and useful, so even though I was sad about missing the Principles of Alignment workshop (which I hope they’ll repeat at some point), I was happy to have attended this one.
Surprisingly, before this challenge, I had never driven out to breathe’s Webster location. I usually stick to Pittsford, and I go to the downtown annex on East Ave. every now and then as well, if it fits my schedule better. I always thought Webster was too far away, but I found out that it is manageable to get to. I was supposed to go on Monday of Week 2, so on Wednesday, since the weather had improved, I decided to try Webster to attend Erica’s 4:30 class. Erica read selections from a book called Manual of the Warrior of Light by Paulo Coelho, an inspirational book about manifesting courage and motivation in your life. I really liked her reading to the class; there was something very inspiring about that. I think that since the Webster studio was a brand new experience for me, it felt like a whole new yoga practice for me as well. I didn’t even groan when Erica asked the class to do eight (!) Sun Salutation B’s on our own! Normally, the instructors tell you to do two or three, but hey, like I said—whole new yoga class (almost)! (I also had the Amusing Thought of the Week (TM): my wheel pose is awful, and I have trouble lifting my head up when I’m in it. I decided instead that when I do it, it’s not a wheel–it’s a flat tire! This is probably only funny to me, and I don’t care.)
Even though I told myself I would try to do my classes Monday-Friday to free up my weekend, I ended up skipping class on Thursday. The weather became gloomy once more, and as a result, I just wanted to curl up and sleep. I actually missed being on my yoga mat, but not enough to go through a vinyasa class. I almost considered going to a restorative class that night, but I ended up staying in with my hubby instead. I went to class on Friday morning, and then Saturday morning, and I’m pretty certain that morning yoga is the best thing ever. I typically prefer morning classes, if they’ll fit into my schedule, and I notice that when I attend those, I feel energized for the remainder of my day. On Saturday I needed it; my dad and I organized a surprise dinner for my mom to celebrate her birthday and her retirement last week. It was great to see the family and spend time with them late into the evening just catching up (and they know all about my 40 Days challenge and are really supportive!).
I didn’t have quite the same level of energy during Week 2 that I carried in Week 1, but by the end of Week 2 I was happy that I had made it and hadn’t been tempted, despite bad weather and bad moods, to give up. Finally, I’ll leave you with an excerpt from page 13 of Baptiste’s 40 Days, which my instructor read at the end of my Saturday class. I like this particular anecdote about the simple (and maybe not so simple) ways in which we can manifest change in our lives by stepping out of our comfort zones.
“We can convince ourselves that we need to keep our identities as we know them intact. We think we need the stuff, the money, the status, the security, the big house, the persona we’ve created. Psychologist Carl Jung spoke openly about his lifelong desire to go to Rome to study the great written works within the Vatican library. For many years, he would periodically make train reservations and then cancel them. Though he longed to read these great works, at the same time he was afraid because he feared he would see within the great spiritual writings and works of the wise men of old that his life’s work was all wrong. Jung was very honest about his conflicted feelings. It was as if a voice within him whispered, ‘What if I’ve built my whole life on sand? What will that say about my thought systems, my achievements, my identity?’ Unfortunately, Jung never was able to step out of his comfort zone to make the journey to Rome because he so feared seeing himself in this new light.
“At some level, we all have this conflict within us, and it scares us. We are afraid to let go, to face the groundlessness and uncertainty. Way down deep, we feel that if people saw us unmasked, the naked us, the authentic us, they would recoil in horror. We are terrified of ourselves, so we maintain the illusions, patch the leaks, and hide. We have become so very sophisticated at presenting our masks that we almost fool ourselves, but not quite. Many of us sense that something is wrong and that deep change is needed—a brave unveiling of who we are at our core. But we doubt ourselves and our worth, so, like Jung, at some level we cling to what [we] already know and accept as reality. We veer away from taking that journey inward and therefore out of our comfort zone, not realizing that the way out is in.
“Once we’ve gone inward, we can then step out beyond our comfort zone and find the courage to flow from our hearts. Going out on the ledge, we have no choice but to be real. When you are standing directly in the face of the unknown, all the rest of the phony stuff doesn’t matter. In moments of great fear, everything else just falls away and there is nothing but you, your heartbeat, and your breath. Those are the moments of pure truth, when you are cornered into simply being.
“We cannot transform without leaving our comfort zone; there is no secret passage around this basic law. You must face your fears, abide in unconditional openness, and cut through all your tendencies to hold on.”
That idea of being “cornered into simply being” is how I tend to feel on my mat. The person I may be outside of the yoga studio, no matter what’s happening in my life, simply isn’t who I am when I’m immersed in my practice. Fear and doubt tend to leave my mind the more my mind connects with my body. If a great man like Carl Jung could feel that sense of fear and doubt, what can I do, even in some small way, to release my own doubts? I feel like I’m able to get some of my best “thinking” done on the mat, especially if it’s just being able to let something negative go and not give it any further thought.