40 days and yoga for sleep
With my third 40 days to personal revolution in week two I'm already starting to struggle with completing all the daily aspects of the program. For those of you who aren't familiar with 40 Days its a program developed by Barron Baptiste designed to transform the body and the mind. The 40 day program consists of:
They say third times a charm and thats what I'm going for with this forty days. Instead of cursing under my breath, fighting traffic, and stressing out about whether or not I'll make it to the yoga studio in time I've decided to let go of the expectation that I have to spend all 6 days in the studio and embrace the idea of bringing yoga into my life in a way that excites me. I love my practices in the studio, but sometimes life gets in the way and taking care of myself means that what I really need is something else.
One of my favorite ways to get both my home practice and nightly meditation practice in is to do them both before I go to bed. With my type A mind running a million miles a minute all the time a yoga practice before bed has helped me fall asleep faster, and stay asleep.
I tend to focus on a slower yoga practice where I hold the poses for a few minutes each. I start on the floor, sometimes doing a few slow Sun A's and then working into deeper stretches. I typically end my practice on my bed with an inversion up the wall. Once I'm done with my poses I settle in for my meditation. Every night I vary the poses I do depending on what my body feels like it needs.
Yoga Journal has a sequence that I like to pull poses from here:
By adapting the 40 days program to my life in this way I'm finding that I'm enjoying it a lot more and ultimately getting more out of it than I have before....and I'm sleeping better!
Practicing Self Care
Sometimes self care sucks. Sometimes it means giving up on a goal. Sometimes it means letting someone down. And sometimes it means letting yourself down. Yesterday, for me, self care looked like pretty much all those things.
I'd been waiting until the last possible moment to see if my knee would get better in time for the Houston Marathon this weekend. It didn't. As my knee stayed the same my Instagram and Facebook feeds started blowing up with all things marathon. 5 more days....what are you running for this year? 4 more days the finish line is being constructed downtown. 3 more days....today is the last day to defer running in 2015 for 2016. For the past few weeks its been pictures of people's training runs. Pictures of finish lines and smiles. Excitement. As it all filled my newsfeed the logical decision I'd made weeks ago, to defer if it was the right decision for my body, got harder to make. I can't tell you how many times I'd pictured crossing that finish line. How many times I'd thought about running past the lululemon cheer station and seeing all the people I used to work with. Picturing race day got me through each and every one of my training runs. It was a really hard picture to let go of as I logged into the marathon site and clicked the button to defer the race.
In the bigger scheme of things putting the race off a year isn't that big a deal. I can still look forward to that moment I cross the finish line, it'll just be next year instead of this weekend. Self care can be hard. Sometimes it means giving up things you really want and for a type A like me, a lot of the time it means learning when to back off. Just like yoga, and really like life in general, self care is a practice.
Good luck to everyone running this Sunday! I'll be out there cheering! #houmarathon
I don't know about you, but I found myself in a post holiday rut this year. I came back from an amazing trip with my family to New York City and found falling back into the day to day tough. I felt uninspired, tired, and unfocused. After a week of that I decided I'd had enough so one Friday night I decided to forgo making plans, stay in and do something to make myself feel inspired again.
I have this huge chalkboard I keep above the fire place in my living room. I wrote a huge quote on it when I bought it and then never really did anything with it. It was time for a change. I pulled out my chalkboard markers, wrote "bucket list" in large letters at the top and then spent the next few hours filling the board with all the things I wanted to do in my life. As I wrote I realized how much I'd already been lucky enough to do and all the amazing things I had to look forward to. Once I was done I put the chalkboard back in its place on my mantle so I'd always have my goals close by.
I've always believed there is a power in writing things down. Writing out my bucket list changed my outlook. It helped me refocus on the things that mattered to me and gave me clarity on where I am trying to go. It was very clear when I looked over what I wrote that there were a few things that really mattered to me: travel, yoga/fitness, family, helping others, and challenging myself in my work. Creating my bucket list helped me then create my goals for 2015 and bigger goals I wanted to accomplish in years to come.
Developing your own bucket list
I don't think I ever really understood new years resolutions until I taught my first yoga class of 2015. My normal class time is 5:45-7pm on Saturday nights, not exactly a time that draws huge crowds. A busy class for me is 10-12 people so you can imagine my surprise last Saturday night when I walked in to a room twice as full as I'd ever seen it.
While I loved having so many people in my class it did get me thinking. What is it about the first day of a new year that gets everyone deciding to change their lives? Why is it that we need a specific day to put all our plans into action and be our biggest selves? Why is it that we don't just make the changes we need or want to make as soon as we realize we want to change?
That's why I decided that my only resolution of 2015 would be to stop waiting. Stop wasting time. Stop making excuses. Stop focusing on all the reasons things wouldn't work and instead focus on the reasons they would. We spend a whole lot of our lives waiting. Telling ourselves what we'll do in the future, what we'll do when we are ready. How many times have you found yourself starting off a thought with "when X happens then I'll do Y?" I know I'm guilty of it.
So instead of making resolutions this year I'll stop making excuses and start living. Instead of living for the future I'll live right here, right now.
I've had a goal since I was in high school: to run a marathon. For over ten years things got in the way. In college I was busy, busy with school, work, clubs, and lets be honest having a bit too much of a social life. After I graduated and moved to China I wasn't nearly as busy, I ran almost everyday and trained like I should have. The only problem was there was no marathon in the "small" Chinese city I was living in (small meant over 5 million people...tiny right?). I went to grad school in SoCal so there were no shortages of races. I ran my first and second marathons while I was there, but I couldn't seem to nail down training with all the other things I had going on in my life. The timing just wasn't quite right. After grad school I found myself back in China in a bigger city....but this time the air quality just made running nothing short of torture.
When I found myself back in the states in Houston, Texas it was time. My first year back I missed the lottery, but the second year I entered and found out I'd gotten a spot a few days into my yoga teacher training. I was so excited.
I started training for the January race in September. It was rough. Running in Houston during September was like being in a hot yoga room. As soon as you started a film of humidity covered your skin. It just wasn't pretty. My allergies were going crazy. My legs felt like they were each a million pounds. But I had a goal and this time I was determined to cross that finish line. I signed up for the Houston Warm Up Series to help me stay on track.
Eventually the Houston heat gave way to some really beautiful running weather. I found ways to combat blisters the size of eggs on my feet, gave into having perpetually black toe nails (nothing a little nail polish can't fix...or at least hide), and got used to dragging my self out of bed bright and early Sunday mornings to get my long runs in.
It was on my last race of the Warm Up Series that it happened. About five miles in there was a sharp searing pain in my right knee. I stopped running and try to walk it off. The internal negotiation started. What could I do? I have a high pain threshold, I've broken bones and shed no tears. Its to the point where people don't believe there is actually anything wrong with me. I wanted to finish. I had to finish. This HAD to happen. So like the good little type A that I am I keep going through the next 13.6 miles. I ran through the pain, I slowed down from my normal pace, but I didn't listen to my body. I refused to give up.
Sure enough I crossed that finish line. I completed the 30K that was my longest run to date. I battled through the pain, got my medal, and thought I could just ice my knee back to health. I stayed off it for a week before I tried running again. It was a no go. A mile in the pain was back and as sharp as ever. Knee braces, icing, resting. Nothing worked. I'd wait and try again and the pain was always there.
Last Sunday, after a week of resting it, I tried to do a long run. After two miles I was done. I just couldn't. With the marathon two weeks away my yoga teacher training finally kicked in. Listen to your body. Listen. To. Your. Body!
It should have kicked in during the 30K. It did actually, its just my competitive side told it to shut up. So Sunday I listened. I stopped. I walked home and I went to the pool instead. I swam instead and my knee didn't hurt, but my heart did because I knew the changes of running the 2015 Houston Marathon were slim to none. Crushing my marathon goal was going to be pushed out another year. All that work was for nothing.
But thats just it. It wasn't for nothing. Yes I probably won't be running the Houston Marathon this year thats true, but I accomplished so much in training for it that its not actually a failure at all. I ran the longest race of my life, I learned what I was capable, and ultimately learned when to back off. I have no doubt that I'll cross running a marathon off my bucket list in the near future and when I do start training for it I'll have all the knowledge of what worked and what didn't this time to help me. So instead of being disappointed, instead of focusing on crossing something off my list, I'll chose to be happy with the journey instead.
Thoughts on life, love, and the pursuit of creating a life that inspires