Day 22 to Day 29 – On the Horizon (The Missing Yoga Post)


And now, the end is within sight. The way station is just ahead, a place of rest and reflection. People you have met along the way have shared tales of their own travels. You’ve had your own  journey, not stepping in their footsteps, but converging towards that one common gathering place. Every step, every stretch, every drop of sweat has been a success.

Working through the poses, finding the places that are tight; the tension identified. Working through the mental blocks and finding the vocabulary to say those words ‘I Can’ and ‘I am’.  Unexpected emotions and stress repressed then let go. The shift which allows the body to tighten here, strengthen there, let go of tightness there. Recognizing how to slow down a panicked heart beat, concentrating on nothing but the air going into the lungs, rising belly and falling. New perspective blossoms. The ego is outside of the yoga studio, leaving only movement and breath. Standing taller and not withdrawing from the world. It finally makes sense now. The flexibility advances in body and spirit. As the twig is bent, so grows the tree. I practice openly. Looking at every new day with fresh new eyes as a child. Ending the day with calm reflection of the good and the bad.  I share openly.

And all of this becomes comfortable. The ebb and flow of challenge and momentum.

The death of my procrastination occurred when I realized that it is easier to continue. Don’t stop. Making each habit, each observation, each action towards one of success. Even if it is the smallest of actions, I am doing it. Hesitation and living in fear will only stagnate me. I cannot grow that way. Making happy mistakes is the best teacher.

I find a certain calm zen peace with this. I have already succeeded, because I am succeeding and I will succeed in the future. And it is this attitude that I have found, that will help me. I will make mistakes towards success. I will continue to celebrate. I will take time to rest and allow these moments to wash over me. I will thank and cherish each moment.

I will also look back at these posts and wonder, ‘Why didn’t I do a second draft?’

Probably because I’m still catching up on laundry. And other things that I’ve neglected in the past 30 days. But not for much longer, I’m still moving.

Om still here,

Pearce

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Day 30 – Crossing the Finish Line


It is not a matter of taking that last step across the finish line. It is not a matter of pushing yourself.

Every step is the last step. Every push is the last push. Every smile you take is the last one.

And the first.

What makes the largest difference is making yourself aware of the now. The present, and being in it.

And in times of stillness, reflecting on the mistakes, the strains, the sweaty parts (a lot of that) the realizations and new discoveries in exercising not only the body, but the places where the body holds onto stress. Reflection of this, is exercise for the spirit.

Opening of the body to new directions. Allowing myself to become so still that only my breath is being concentrated on. Committing myself to stay in position and flexing, pulling myself into new places while making my mind calm and still. Facing only myself in the reflection of the studio mirror, and facing my reflections of who I am. Finding out tolerances and limitations, places in body and spirit that need more attention.

Finding some way to manage all that laundry, cook up meals ahead of time, maintain a home business, full time job, writing articles, writing blog posts, writing fiction, sleeping and still commit to doing 1 class of hot yoga per day.

It’s been amazing.

30 Day challenge of Hot Yoga complete.

All thanks to this place.

For All Your Saskatoon Hot Yoga Needs

I’d like to thank Dallas, Steph and all the great instructors as well as the regular yogis who go to Hot Yoga on 20th. It’s a great community that has been built up in Saskatoon. If you are even travelling through and would like to get in on a class, don’t hesitate to check their schedule, give them a call, bring a friend. Try it out.

It’s just one step. And it might be the best one you ever take.

Om still here,
Pearce

P.S. You may have noticed there is a gap in the posts. Another post is coming up later on, which maybe more important than the last ‘recorded’ step for this challenge.

Day 29 – Girl, I wanna sweat you up…


I’ve tried to do it.

An extra towel.

An extra set of clothes.

Another water bottle.

Try another way of adapting my clothing so I won’t look like so many others. You’ve seen them. People in yoga tights carrying their mat and towel off to the studio. They come out more in the warmer seasons, spring, summer and fall. Only the true hardcore wear their yoga gear out in -40 weather. Usually under seventeen layers of clothing.

But there is a definite good reason for them wearing these clothes out in public.

Sweat.

Those who wear yoga clothing recreationally cannot benefit from the true engineering of a great set of yoga clothes. Go from a hot studio, to the change room, have a quick shower, and then into the next set of yoga clothes. You are going to sweat again, and again. If you were to switch back into regular clothing, you’d just sweat those up. And sweaty denim jeans is not comfortable. Sweaty yoga gear however, is still comfortable. So, mat, towel, water bottle, and a decent bunny hug. (The rest of the world calls these hoodies.)

I have tried it many times to go into one set of clothes, and for the 30 day challenge, I have finally given up on trying. I am going to sweat it out, even after a cool down shower, and return back to normal breathing. I have been the guy with the overflowing bag, towel, mat, coconut water, work clothes, sweats, deodorant, water bottle, toque, scarf, large mittens, sunglasses, and on occasion, my writing bag which includes netbook, two or three journals, latest book I’m reading, sketch book, spare hat…

See what I mean?

When it comes to this point, I have surrendered the clutter. I have simplified my daily yoga gear to the bare essentials. There have been days where I have not worn my winter coat outside, watching the steam come off my skin in minus 20, feeling amazing, letting my stretched out lungs embrace the icy clean air. Then jumping into my car, cranking the heat up, trying to melt the frozen droplets of sweat off my forearms.

So when you see that person on the bus. On the train, or going down the street, holding their mat and heading somewhere… they aren’t pushing a corporate statement of what yoga should be.

They are like most of us. Just tired of sweating up two sets of clothing.
Om still here,

Pearce

P.S. Day 29 was brutal. Humidity was up, old aches and pain blocks that were there on day one were coming up. It felt like the first time. And the temp was only 40. If you are doing a 30 day challenge, grab a set of shorts and top that you can rinse out overnight and hang up to dry. Two yoga towels are great to switch off with. Use one for 3 days, then launder it, use the other. Check in your local consignment/frugal/used clothing store. I found some retailing 200 nike shorts for 5 bucks.

Day 18 – 21 – Oh yes, don’t forget to breathe!


3 hours of yoga yesterday.

Today, I should be a wreck. A tightened bundle of sore muscles with daggers of sharp pain in my joints.

I’m not though. I kept going.

Hydrated like never before.

For the past 21 days I’ve been checking myself. And now that I’ve gained more flexibility, I can concentrate more on adjusting the poses to where I should be. I’m not striving as hard now, but it is another plateau. The pain and tightness shifts from place to place, even inbetween poses. The only thing I can prepare for is the possibility of change, and not hesitate in exploring. I’m just a beginner at this. It might take decades until I can get to textbook positions.

The real experts, what do they concentrate on? Their breath. Just breathing.

Not the fact that they have contorted their bodies into a crazy pretzel shape which compresses their organs, glands, muscles, skin, sweat… They concentrate on breathing. “Yeah, so I have my right foot in my left ear, balancing on my big toe on my left leg, while I’m looking at the ceiling and the right corner of the studio. Hands are on hips and chest. Not a problem. Work on breath.”

We don’t do enough of that. Proper breathing that is. When we are under stress, we only use the top portion of our lungs, not getting down into deeper breaths. Shoulders hunch up, shallow breathing stresses our hearts to pump faster, until we can actually get ourselves into a panic state. It’s a type of negative biofeedback that we do to ourselves. But why? Because we focus on the negative.

So stretch back and away from the computer, take a few deep breaths, lean over the back of the office chair. Smile, and breathe.

Here’s what I’ve observed in myself so far…

For releasing tension and negativity and embrace relaxation, I do more diaphragm breathing. Keep your ribs still (hand on chest), push your belly out with inhaling, then pull it back in. SLOWLY! This will also help massage the abdomen and dump carbon dioxide that may not be moving out of the lungs.

Better oxygenation means you can also think clearer. Clarity.

But your mind tends to wander when you are concentrating on your breath. Groceries, the household chores, bills, that argument you had, past regrets, that song that won’t get out of your head. Stop. Change your focus. Go back to the feeling of the air rushing through your nose, deep down into your belly, then concentrate on flexing those abs to push it out. Slowly.

When you breath in a panicked or stressful state, you become that state.

Give yourself a break, and breathe easier.
Om still here,
Pearce

P.S. For more breathing techniques, go to the Library, your local YOGA studio, and your doctor. Or the Internet, if you have to. Look up Pranayama breathing, stress removal and breathing techniques. Then look up cute pictures of baby animals, you are going to do it anyways.

Day 11 to 17 – Plateau


The magic moment.

There comes a point when the practice becomes easy and familiar. Your body starts to move through the poses automatically. Refinements come a lot faster, stretching becomes natural. It’s in a place where the stretch really feels good, and there isn’t a sign of any discomfort anywhere. Your progress is faster now, you don’t even notice how fast you achieve. The progress becomes habit, and natural.

Like breathing.

It’s the yoga plateau.

This is where you can look to the horizon and see how far you can go.

And then somewhere around day 16, unexpected pain and discomfort spring up in places that you didn’t expect. Places that weren’t there before are suddenly bright with pain. It’s new, and it jars your pacing. You have to slow down.

This is the quitting point for most people. Getting past the first discomfort is the only obstacle they can see. They aren’t expecting any other problems to show up.

But the largest obstacle they have is themselves.

They expect that plateau to go on forever, and for some it might. But others hit that wall and focus on the dread and struggle they are going to face again.

If they quit, it will be twice or three times as hard for them to start again.

That’s the difference. The focus.

It’s a lot easier to continue a habit of success when you focus on the progress, than to abandon it.  Even through pain and discomfort.

Focus on how far you’ve come. You aren’t that same person you once were.

 

Om still here,

Pearce

 

P.S. Epsom salt soak is once again, really appreciative. Just prepare for inevitable pain, not constant pain.

Day 8 – Barriers


Things do not hurt the way they used to.

The pain has moved to another place. This pain which I once held is not as strong. I don’t miss it, it wasn’t good for me. I now can see where a shift has occurred, and as much as it did hurt me, it cannot any longer.

When you make room within yourself, you can allow greater things to happen to you. Once you remove the negative that holds you in place, you allow that positive to come in.

I’ve broken through a barrier, found new movement, and I can do things that I could not before.

Pain is temporary and inevitable, suffering is optional.

So, that was a little poetic and twee at the same time. But yes, I have broken through a barrier in my yoga practice. I could go a lot further today than I could yesterday. That magic moment where they tell you, you will become more flexible. BAM! Happened. I need a t-shirt.

I’ve got through the Yin class, which is mainly deep deep deep stretching, and feeling pretty good. The class seemed shorter than it actually was. It felt amazingly good to just get into stretches and hold the position. Guess I was in the zone, and found good concentration. The lower lights helped a little, as staring at a monitor all day long will screw up your eyes. The Foundation class that I finished off going to, was a lot easier. Will definitely get back into the Yin class again, as I ripped through the regular Foundation class. Camel pose, floor bow, done like dinner, got that backward bend in the spine rocking. Felt amazingly good too. Balancing poses, still working on.  Standing bow was a little easier on the right hand side than the left. But the right hip and inner thigh is extremely tight. Even when sitting down on the floor, with both feet soles touching each other, my left leg flops down quite easily. But the right? It’s a bouncy castle. That and the shoulders. I don’t think I’ll ever get into a decent eagle pose, not without surgery on my shoulders and tendons.

Where was I?

Oh yeah.

Pain is temporary and inevitable, suffering is optional.  Mangled up buddhism right there.

I don’t remember all of the painful parts of the practice. (Sort of like, do you remember what you had for lunch a month ago? Seemed important at the time, but now, I don’t even remember the details.) I do know that I can choose to focus on the physical sensation of the muscles relaxing, stretching and strengthening. Or I could choose to focus on the burning, sharp painful, stiffness that pulls, the dull deep throbbing, bright piercing, uncomfortableness. I will acknowledge it, and then let it go.

I can breathe.

Which is something, surprising, that I have to remind myself to do. Even in practice or in the middle of the day. I’m not breathing right. Pranayama exercise to oxygenate, will replace out that afternoon coffee which will dehydrate.

So my advice today is, when you break through a personal barrier, celebrate that past, and look forward to exploring the new.

Just think of the places you’ll go.

Om still here,

Pearce

Day 6 – Convenience


In order to master something and become graceful, one needs to do it for 10’000 hours.

In order to master to anything, you need passion, and stick with it. Through bad and good, every step forward is success, BUT!

BUT!

Success is not necessarily Easy.

It is however, doing one thing at a time.

In an age of convenience, marketing has merely seconds to catch your attention. Every moment they want your dollars, split second decisions can make or break corporations. The modern advertising campaign has to convince you in seconds to go along with their plans. When our heads are full with intentions to keep up with the masses, we cannot think for ourselves. (This might not fit for this blog, but I may do another ramble on it later, someone remind me. Okay? Thanks!)

So. Do you still have your New Years Resolutions? Or are you done with them? Look up the statistics on failure rates. It is astounding how much people give up… when they are trying to do the impossible.  “I’m going to lose seven hundred pounds this year.” “I’m going to give up that dirty habit and never return to it. Next week.” “Tomorrow I’m going to stop procrastinating.” 

Let your own plan convince you. Make it reasonable. Make it a small change. Don’t try and eat the elephant in one shot, take one bite at a time. My quit smoking mantra at one point was, “I don’t have to get through the week without a cigarette. I don’t have to get through the day without a cigarette. I just have to get through the next five minutes without a cigarette.”

Of a 30 day yoga challenge, the first week is the worst apparently. But what I am taking out of this?

I am doing yoga today, so I can do it tomorrow.

That’s it. Just do yoga today. Every day that I go in, and do yoga, I fall out of position, I sweat and strain, I am dealing with emotions that are being provoked from tension being released. Is it easy? No. Is it hard? It’s harder to start up once you haven’t done it in a while.

But is yoga hard? I’d say it is one of the most demanding activities you can put yourself through. Once you get past the physical barriers, which could take years, there are still mental barriers to get through.

And that is one of the hardest things you can ever do in your lifetime. Getting past yourself to get towards your goals. But I’m doing it. With one small change per day.

And with each little change, with each little step I take, I make impossible things convenient and easy for myself.

There. Now if that isn’t a plan for myself, I don’t know what is.

I’m still here,

Pearce

P.S. My advertising budget for these thoughts didn’t have room for the Playboy bunnies or the Magnum P.I. Ferrari, so I stuck with this blog. And this really nice cup of green tea. Cheers!

Day 5 – Mindfulness


Becoming aware of what your body is currently feeling is a little disconcerting, and can lead to other thoughts.

What is that pain? Why is that happening? Why didn’t I start this earlier? Am I going to die much younger? Why is that pain happening? Did I that hurt earlier? Why is this-

Stop.

Don’t let your anxieties grow more anxious thoughts.

Easier said than done, right? So you start small and work your way up. Start by shutting off all electronic devices. Computers, tv’s, smartphones, radios, home phones. Stop updating the internet with pictures of what you are eating. Stop checking or playing through possible permutations of information over the internet. Also known as video games. Stop being nosy of what others are doing.

We are inundated with so much information, we cannot stop for ourselves. 

And simply do nothing. 

You can do nothing for 10 minutes, allow your mind to rest, and become more mindful. Andy Puddicombe in this great TED talk describes this.

This takes practice. And it’s not going to be easy. When you can step back away from anxious thoughts in your brain, you can control them. And once fear is gone, there is space for better things.

And I thought quitting cigarettes was hard.

I’m still here,

Pearce

Day 4 – It’s all about the Liquids Baby


Day Four – Liquid will flow

Fact : Beer tastes better when you’ve done yoga.
Fact : Most lists sound better when there are at least four items.
Fact : Adult elephants cannot jump. Baby elephants can, but only when provoked.
Fact : The internet is filled with information that may or may not be useful for my blog.

Hydration. Wow. I’ve never really appreciated the amount of liquid that I could consume in one sitting. After yesterdays session, I had 1.5 liters of coconut water, 1 L of filtered water, and one pint of beer. They all tasted amazing. There is something about dehydration that engages the sense of taste so you will drink more of something. I’ve looked into it, and it does exist. It’s a natural survival trait in humans.

But there is very good reason for drinking that much and not having to urinate. The amount of sweat is phenomenol. I don’t think I’ve ever sweat as much as I have in my entire life. But now, I’m beginning to get used to it. I am not enjoying the dried sweat, but being sweaty and slippery, and hot? Oh yeah, I’m getting into it.

But the single beer I had yesterday afternoon? It was as if the angels had decided to applaud every hop and malt in the Paddock Wood 606. I savoured all of it, sip by sip, and as the malty tones came out when it warmed up, my thirst was not quenched.

Now, I don’t recommend you drinking a dehydrant after hot yoga. But for those who have enjoyed craft beer, for those who have cracked open that wobbly pop after the playing sports with the team, for those who have spent that extra mile in the car with no air conditioning on the hot day. Do have that one drink. Just remember, you are already dehydrated as it is, the hangover will come doubly fast as you are dehydrated.

As for the practice, yesterday and today. Not stiff, sore, but not stiff! Which is a good sign, apparently. Things are loosening up. Which is really good. I’ve identified and located a couple more spots that need working on.

Blame it on too many years driving a desk.

Previous injury list? Left ankle and what little part of arch I have on my left foot, cramps up, when sitting down on that area. Can’t handle the pressure on that. Shoulders are still waaay too tight for Locust pose. Put my hands under my thighs, and a dagger of bright pain shot across my right shoulder. Maybe at the end of 30 days that will come in. Lower back and abs aching, previous injury? No, just lack of exercise, and bad genetics. I’m not hoping to get a six pack when I’m done, just hoping closer to a tall boy. Loose some of that love handle. Maybe a little more core strength.

Big one today. Nailed standing bow pose, and didn’t fall over. Which was weird as I fell out during Tree.

Day Five tomorrow. I’m hoping to get a couple of ‘softer classes’, grab a flow when I get my stamina up some more. A Yin class to really stretch out, and plan to have that epsom salt soak.

No writing beyond this blog done. Had a couple of ideas though, as always that creative writing wheel in my head still keeps spinning.

And when you see ‘those’ people with their yoga mats, in their tights, going from place to place. They aren’t following a fad. Look at it this way.

They aren’t succeeding no matter how badly they practice yoga. They are succeeding because they are doing it.

The worst thing you can do, is stop in hesitation, in fear, and let that rule over you. So if you failed, you were doing 100 percent more than the person who didn’t even attempt it.

I’m still here,
Pearce

Day 2 and 3 of Yoga Challenge


Day 2 and 3 of Yoga – Lessons Learned

Apologies to those who are new to my blog. I write for the ear. I will be recording them at a future date. More for my own practice, and I will be posting them up on Soundcloud. (You’ll be able to find it here, once I get it recorded.)

So I didn’t eat enough or late enough on Friday afternoon, so the Friday night Yoga class was interesting. The foundation series (not Asimov) was challenging, and I was getting a dull throbbing headache. I wondered what it was, then I recognized it from days when I haven’t eaten enough. Low blood sugar. It’s not one of the marketing strategies for yoga to eat healthy. It’s for your own safety! The last thing you want to be doing is passing out or stressing out from hypoglycemic shock. It’s not healthy! So yes, I will have to plan a healthy snack on those days when I will eat after the class in the evening, or in the afternoon and catch a late supper afterwards. Granola comes to mind, I may double up on my time saving egg/bacon breakfast burrito. No reason why I can’t eat that at any point of the day. I missed out on Tree pose, as my heart rate was up and was really dizzy by that point. I’m glad the second half of the class was on the floor.

Also, hydration, hydration, hydration. Tips that I’ve found that work for me so far, try them out for you, and let me know your own.
– Drops of lemon juice in your water, not only will this dechlorinate the water, but will give a little more flavor. So you aren’t just forcing water into your system.
– Coconut water is amazing for hydration after a yoga session, or after a workout. Try and avoid the stuff with sugar and other preservatives.
– Drinking throughout the day helps with energy level. And not just water… Green Tea has been a great refresher and concentrator for me lately.
– Get a huge drinking vessel, make it your own. Right now I have a 64oz coffee to go mug, I fill this with filtered water, and a couple of splashes of Ginger/Lemon juice.

Saturday class at Hot Yoga on 20th was welcome, minus 20 degrees celcius outside, add on a windchill and it feels like minus 37 degrees. But it was plus forty degrees in the studio. Hooray! Stepping in, finding a spot, I found my muscles loosening immediately. Didn’t have enough time to do a good lying still warm up. Still felt a little sore in few spots. Lower back, abs, inner thighs and the perpetual knot in my right shoulder. Got a little bit better rests in between poses, did more diaphragm breathing. That was working a lot better bringing heart rate down too. I’m still finding places of tension in my body, I did have a longer warmup time the other day, that may have also been a factor from the lower blood sugar and dehydration.

Finding my balance is still a bit off, I’m falling out, but it’s getting a little better each day. Surprised myself today as I got into bow pose correctly and didn’t faceplant. Tightness in my calves and feet, I have to shake out the stiffness afterwards.

Today I remembered to eat at the right time and brought my usual bag of stuff. Water bottle for those precious little sips in class, towel for shower afterwards, plastic bag to hold sweaty clothing/yoga towel/shower towel afterwards. I come to class in sweats, then change afterwards, regular clothing. Helps out a little. So when I reached into my bag looking for the coconut water that should be wrapped up in the jeans that I had currently on … I left in the fridge at home. No big loss. But it is another lesson.

And it comes up from something in my RSS subscriptions off of Cool Tools, it’s a survival guide, which I am thinking about purchasing just for research for Seekrit Project writing project.

No matter how much you prepare for a disaster, there might be something else that will be there to mess you up. Survival handbooks will get lost in the case of a disaster. The person with the most survival knowledge skill will get injured or disabled first in case of a disaster.

No how matter how much planning I do, there will problems ahead. And I am the cause and owner of these problems. But I won’t have to dwell on them, or flog myself onto the Guilt Train to Tokyo. (possible spoken word piece there) I’ll just learn, and do better, don’t plan, rehearse and visualize what I need to do. Then Do It. No hesitation, no fear, set aside ego and just flow. There, zen moment for the day. Got a little deep there.

Day 3 Yoga done, Ends on February 10th. 27 more to go. Hooray!

Now I must go back to my writers group, get more of Boom finished, and the NaNoWrimo. But with this blog, I have my 750 words per day done!

I’m still here,
Pearce