I’ve given myself the challenge of doing yoga 6 days per week for 8 weeks. Here’s my diary through the experience, updated as close to daily as possible.
There are two main reasons why I’ve decided to do this. The first is because I’m starting to feel taught and tight – in a bad way. I need to loosen my body up, gain some core strength, gain some flexibility, gain balance and focus and attention. All of the above will assist me to progress with my dancing. The second is because with lengthening of muscles comes a nicer-looking body. And I’m all up for that as well!
Days 1 – 3
All I really noticed during the first three days was that my posture was easier to keep. I didn’t have to keep fighting myself to stand properly upright at the end of a long day in the office. It was less of a struggle to keep my tailbone down and my head up. Oh, that and heaps of extra energy. I was like a bouncing ball of zing!
Today I got suuuuuper sooorreeee and suuuuperrr stiiiiiffff. Which sucked, because I had to dance this night for two hours. I discovered that a whole body of stiff and sore muscles makes bellydancing a big pain in the arse. Couldn’t move properly, kept seizing up during the down time. Worst class I’ve had all year.
The majority of the stiffness and soreness is gone. Made the amazing discovery that it hurts my back muscles if I slouch. Total opposite to the day before I started. It used to hurt me to try to stand properly up-right.
Nothing of note to report.
Overall observations for Week 1
The other strange thing about doing yoga everyday is something that I read about online, too. It’s an intensity of negative emotions that are not attached to thoughts. They don’t last long, but they are quite negative and strong. On Day 4 (late at night, home after dance), I was mentally furious about… nothing. The theory behind it is that because both yoga and bellydance work your chakras – and bellydance in particular works your belly chakras – people tend to find that for the first little while they experience these emotions they’ve “locked up” inside themselves. They appear weirdly without being attached to any thoughts, and so are completely random, and tend to baffle whoever experiences them. But, because you’re bringing them out of yourself, they disappear. Once they’re all gone, they’re all gone. Well, this is my hope, anyway.
Starting to find that some of my extreme joints (like in the end knuckles of my fingers) are aching and swollen. Which I am guessing is expulsion of toxicity. I guess I should expect skin eruptions next. Gross.
Exquisite awareness of lengthening muscles and increased flexibility. I’ve also noticed that my breathing rate has slowed down and become calmer. I particularly notice my breath when I get a little bit freaked out at work and tend to subconsciously slow it down to relax. Never really noticed it before. Walking around it awesome, because my legs and joints feel like they’re working properly – like I’m 14 again! This morning I adjusted some of my hand postures to reduce pressure on my fingers. Voila! Vastly reduced finger pain today. Looks like it was most likely pressure on the joints giving me hell.
Woke up late, stretched in bed and felt like I really needed to stretch. But I could only afford 15 mins of sun salutations, and it didn’t feel like enough! I’m starting to want to do an hour of yoga a day, instead of 20-30 mins. But I’m also mindful that I’m dancing tonight, so maybe it’s a good thing I didn’t overdo it after what happened last week.
Days 5 & 6
I missed these two days. Once accidentally; the second time on purpose.
In some ways I felt defiant at myself – yah! Take that! – but I really fucking missed it. I found myself absent-mindedly stretching. A lot. Especially on waking up. Kind of like my body was going, “caaaarrrnnn let’s stretch!”.
Told myself that missing days actually isn’t cool. It sucks.
Overall observations for Week 2
Have started to really notice a massive decline in desire for meat and dairy products, and a hugely increased desire for light and more frequent foods. I have started to eat something small (a small sandwich, a piece of fruit, a small savoury, a museli bar, whatever) just about every one-and-a-half to two hours until approximately 2 pm, at which time I pretty well stop being hungry. At slump time (roughly 3 pm) I crave fruit instead of refined sugars. My water intake has increased hugely… and so has my rate of needing to wee! Starting to dislike the taste of cigarettes, especially in the mornings.
Days 1 & 2
After missing two days, I simply had to get back into it.
So even though it made me late for work both days (not the getting out of bed late, that had nothing to do with it), I spent 15 mins doing sun salutations today. And felt a million dollars.
Today, too, I finally received my yoga+bellydance DVD, which I kind of watched between other things today. One of the best lots of $20 I’ve spent, I’ll wager. It also verifies that my notion of yoga complementing my dance wasn’t some hair-brained supposition that I came up with after randomly surfing the internets.
Sun salutations this morning, thanks to limited time. But I made up for this and at least one missed session of yoga by doing the extended yoga workouts on my new DVD. I did it at the end of a long, stressful, and tiring day at work. I felt like the loosey goose for hours afterwards; and happy; and like I’m gaining ground in my flexibility. These flexibility and strength gains are happening rather more quickly than I supposed they would. I put it down to muscular memory. My body’s going OH YEAH I REMEMBER REAL EXERCISE and kicking itself into gear.
I found doing a session at the end of the day ’rounded off’ what I started in the morning. I also found myself in a random whirl of foul mood much later in the night. That was more about my biology as a woman than anything to do with the yoga. Which is a good thing!
Sun salutations again this morning, again due to limited time. But, interestingly, after my session the night before, I found it easier to move, found my legs stronger, and found residual looseness and flexibility right throughout. The morning sun salutations just kept that energy flowing.
At dancing tonight, I discovered that I’m freaking my body out by shimmies. For some reason, becoming more aware of my posture, I’m not loosening up enough to get that effective shimmy kicking in: you have to be loose, relaxed, and enjoying what you do, to do it right. Instead, I’m thinking, “is my back straight, is my pelvis tucked, how am I standing, where are my feet, what are my muscles doing…” and so on. It’s totally bloody well destroyed my shimmy. It sucks. I should be better at this by now.
But it is also a good thing, because I’m learning, through yoga (weirdly), where my dancing pitfalls are, and what I need to drill more and more often. Shimmying is first off the bat.
Days 5 & 6
I cheated and did two sessions on Day 5, and ignored Day 6. This is mainly because I had visitors and didn’t want to do my yoga in front of them. Oh the heckling I would have gotten! The first session Day 5 was sun salutations; the second was a 40-minute intense workout. I felt guilty all weekend about having two days off.
Overall observations for Week 3
I’ve started getting really tired. Like, really really tired. It’s a bit strange. I’ve also noticed that workplace things are impacting on me more: like, the height of my desk and my mouse. My shoulder is killing me as a result of moving desks this week; yet conversely those muscles are also the most relaxed they have been for years and years; it’s possible that the relaxing muscles is freaking my body out. I’m also actually starting to make greater connections with my body: so, my bum wisdom tooth and the cyst on that side of my body are likely the biggest factors in the referred pain in that shoulder. I worked out that when I put pressure on my jaw near that tooth, that 80% of the pain goes away. That’s a huge sign I need it fixed. I have actually – shock! horror! – started making moves to get these things fixed.
So that’s a plus.
Two sessions of yoga a day are really positive. I found that on Friday last week (which was my Day 5) – and keeping in mind that Friday was a complete cunt of a day – the yoga session “brought me into” the weekend. Yoga, long hot shower, week done and gone away. It was really nice.
Today’s yoga was 40 minutes in the morning, followed by deep relaxation, early in the morning. It was a nice way to kick off the week. Even though all day I was tired beyond belief. I blame the moon.
The shoulder pain that started niggling me last week was today so bad that when I got home from work I was in tears. Seeing someone about getting my tooth fixed is going to cost $100 just to get diagnosed, but at least I’m getting this shit moving. One thing I’m finding with yoga is that it’s making me want to get rid of the imbalances in my body. I’m kind of doing it without thinking. It might be a coincidence, but it’s an interesting coincidence that this far into my eight-week thingo I’m more motivated to get my body running properly.
Basic sun salutations this morning because I just ran out of time. Last night I left work late, got home after 7 pm, and just was in a “oh I can’t be arsed” sort of mood. I still did my yoga, though, four rounds of sun salutations, and it pepped me up enough to face the day.
Day three…. through most of WEEK SIX. OVERVIEW.
Oh, um, yes. This all fell over for approximately two weeks.
I had stopped for the rest of Week Four, and through Week Five in the lead-up to the end-of-term hafla. All of my attention was going to the choreographies, and I felt that while I practised my dancing, my yoga had to stop. Stupid perspective, of course.
And then, while I had a week off dancing, I also subconsciously decided to have a week off yoga as well. With interesting results. I was hormonal during this week – PMS from hell! – but my mood got progressively worse and my energy levels fell through the floor. I stopped sleeping. I stopped breathing properly. My cigarette intake and coffee intake went through the roof. The healthy foods I’d gotten re-switched-onto lost all of their appeal.
If you could recast yourself as a pile of aggressive sludge on the floor, that was pretty much me. It wasn’t lovely.
Towards the end of week six, it gradually occurred to me that maybe my lack of exercise was turning me into a little ball of shit. The result of this is that the 8 weeks of yoga will probably turn into far more.
Week Six, Day Five
I got back into yoga in the mornings late in Week Six, after an early part of the week getting into the next dancing term. This term I’ve picked up tribal troupe work, plus a progressive intermediate contemporary dance. And zills. This early part of the week I had bugger-all sleep, so dancing was a bit of a challenge. Felt good, body didn’t work though.
After a week off of dancing, and after trying to work one half of my body that I hadn’t drilled much in the previous 1o weeks, it struck me that if I’m going to progress properly, I need to get drilling. Properly drilling. I need core strength as well as technique; as well as the breathing and grace of yoga.
So, my first day back into this, I warmed up with yoga, did twenty minutes of core strength work, and fifteen minutes of drills (including zills drills), and then cooled down with yoga. It bloody near killed me.
Following yesterday’s format, I was really very sore. The core strength work pointed out how much more work I need in that direction, because halfway through I pretty well collapsed going no more! Talking back to a DVD has to be some level of insanity, surely.
But in more pleasant terms, the yoga bookends to the strength and drilling work is the perfect complement. And doing drills – even just these two days in a row – is resulting in better technique rather quickly. I can at least play my zills a little better; and my isolations are improving, hand in hand with my core strength work.
The downside? Wanting to do this for more than 50 minutes at a time, meaning that I end up late for work. Erm. Yes, well, this is something I need to work on.