21 Day Yoga Challenge, The Sequel–Days 1 through 3

by Valerie on January 12, 2012 · 9 comments

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As I mentioned in my post on fostering healthy habits, I am participating in a 21 Day Yoga Challenge at Tranquilspace this month – it started this past Monday and is running from January 9 to 29.  This is the second time I am doing this challenge – the first time I approached the challenge with huge trepidation, and was kind of in disbelief when I blogged about completing it last June.  Last time, I spent the 6 weeks leading up to the challenge practicing yoga about every other day to get on track for said challenge.  This time, I kind of did something similar – after slightly less yoga in November, I did 16 vinyasa classes in December (in addition to two restorative classes) and then did less yoga the first week of the year.

So far,I have done two yoga classes in three days as I had an 8.15am to 8.30pm workday on Monday, the first day of the challenge, which made going to the studio a scheduling impossibility.  I am of course mildly worried about being a class behind, because I get mildly obsessive that way, but so far so good otherwise. I mainly decided to do this challenge because I wanted the extra motivation to stick to my morning movement routine in a month where I traditionally want to sleep more, but also to see how my strength and stamina at yoga would compare between now and last June.    

I have to admit that this article in the New York Times about yoga injuries made me rethink the challenge a bit as well as wondering if I should dial down my practice to just two to three times a week, rather than striving for four to five times.  That said, after reading the article three times over as many days and thinking about it, I do not fully agree with it. In some ways I do – I actively avoid inversions except for legs-up-the-wall (the clarity and rush of an inversion is not worth the pressure I feel on my head or hands when I begin setting up), am always babying my hamstrings (I did injure them a bit as a beginner yogi and am extra cautious of them), and just generally have been building more child’s poses and other restorative poses (often butterfly instead of baddha konasana, and using a block in bridge) into my practice time as I increase the number of my practices.  Inversions and hamstring-oriented poses are a big part of the article – so I do agree with the existence of those risks, but I also think that a lot of injuries out there stem from people pushing themselves too much, too soon,in yoga practice, which I definitely did ten years ago when I started practicing (complete with falling on my head in attempting wheel when I had not built up my core).  If there is one thing yoga has taught me, it is patience and gentleness, which I did not really have a habit of towards myself.

Disclaimer: obviously I am not a yoga teacher or in any way qualified to give advice on whether to do yoga or not. The above are just my impressions and experiences, not a form of advice of any kind.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 bitt January 12, 2012 at 3:45 am

Very interesting article. It makes me feel a little vindicated because people are always telling me to do yoga to help my back (not even having a clue the problem I have) but yoga really worsens it. Not that I didn’t love it and wish I could still do it. I even worked with a yoga teacher one-on-one to be able to figure out a way to practice with my back problem. When I had pain in many poses that move the back, she finally said “go see a physical therapist”. I think yoga is great and loved it during my time but I think it is NOT a cure all or something to jump into lightly.

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2 Valerie January 12, 2012 at 3:48 am

Such not a cure all, I have to agree. And I should clarify that by yoga, I meant physical yoga, as opposed to meditation and/or breathing work, which is also part of yoga.

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3 Lolita @ Peace, Love & Greens January 12, 2012 at 5:49 am

Wow, a 21 day yoga challenge sounds amazing. It’s definitely something I will be putting on my to do list… I love yoga and believe it is a powerful healing and life tool on so many levels, like you suggest it can teach us qualities such as patiences. We can look on it not as a cure, but as a means by which we can learn, grow and, i believe, recover from physical and emotional traumas.

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4 Valerie January 14, 2012 at 10:48 pm

I really love the group challenge element – makes it more fun!

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5 eva @VegucatingMyKid January 13, 2012 at 5:07 pm

thanks so much for this post and bringing the potential of hurting myself with yoga….this past september i hurt myself really bad–my neck–to the point where i could not turn my head…and i thought there was no way i could be hurting myself doing yoga…when i stopped for 4 weeks, the pain went away….then i started up again and my neck started hurting….
things i learned–to remember to push my poses only to the point where there’s slight to negligible force against my flexibility to move into a pose a touch more and to remember if i can’t breath in that pose, i’m over doing that particular pose…
i’ve scaled back to maintain my range of motion but realized i am in no competition with myself….
thanks for this post to remind me of all these things i learned

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6 Valerie January 14, 2012 at 10:45 pm

you’re so welcome. Hope your neck feels better!

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