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I’ve never really been a New Year’s resolution kinda person. Why? Because I’m selfish, silly. For me the new year starts with my birthday. Want to celebrate new years’ eve with me? Stockpile some fireworks from the Fourth of July, grab some champagne and mark your calendar for August 18th. My new year starts on August 19th. Therefore it stands to reason that I’m not going to put much stock in making resolutions in January since I’m almost halfway through *my* new year. Lent on the other hand is my kind of renew/restore season. Even when I’m not such a great Catholic (which is NOT what we are discussing here. Task at hand, people, task at hand) I love Lent. It’s got everything you need to reset a bad habit or start a new one; give up what hurts you or adopt what will heal you. And here’s why: start date, end date. Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday. 40 days. That is why I contend that new years resolutions suck. You make a list of all the things you ‘must’ do to ‘fix’ yourself, and you start the first day of the new (calendar) year. When do you check in to gauge your progress? Never. When do you get to give it up if it doesn’t work? Never. When you do throw in the towel, how can you tell if you given yourself enough time see if it’s going to stick? You can’t.  With Lent, you decide what you’re going to do and then you give it a whirl for 40 days. If you change your mind, you *know* it’ll all be over in a little over a month. It just feels like you can do it. It’s not deciding to adopt a new habit on January 1st and keep it forever, like a new years resolution. That sounds like setting yourself up for failure. I hate that. Granted I’m sure there are some of you who make very specific, manageable lists with check-in dates and plans for evaluation and reflection and permission to give it all up. But that’s not me nor is it most of anyone else. So take your smug and perfect and scoot on out of here, the slackers are having a meeting.

And this my friends (the perfect people are gone, right?) is why my 40 days of yoga in 8 weeks challenge is working for me. Well, so far. Let’s have a brief check-in on this, the 16th day of the challenge: 12 yoga classes taken thus far (right on schedule, so far so good. Though I know next week will be tough, I’m not throwing out the baby with the bathwater. We’ll just see what I can fit in and will adjust future weeks.) The organization/Studio 219 portion of the challenge: tough & slowly but surely. I’m making better use of my calendars. I (just) made my task list for Studio 219. Oh, fine, I’ll admit it: I was procrastinating. I have a lot to do and it’s frightening. But the list is made and now it can be dealt with and attended to. Onwards… The 11pm bedtime, y’all believe me when I tell you I am terrible at this. I’ve made the earlier bedtime lately. Confession: I’ve had a cold, so some of that-getting-to-bed-early is really passing out with the lights on under a mountain of Kleenex. With six more weeks to go, I’m going to keep moving forward.

If I had just decided to adopt this lots of yoga coupled with productivity as my way of life from now on, I’d be freaking out and so quitting this challenge right about now.  But instead I get to try it out and at the end I’ll be able to see what works, what doesn’t and apply it to my life. I feel so virtuous right now. (totally kidding. My halo is never on straight) Lent starts in the morning. Technically my 8 week challenge will be over before Easter Sunday.  We’ll have to see if I add an extra week/five more classes to the challenge to make it a Lenten challenge also. I’m in for at least 6 more weeks of less than minimal make-up and sweaty ponytails (and getting things done and going to bed early).

I saw this on Twitter the other night. The idea of a yoga challenge has always appealed to me. But the standard Bikram challenge of 60 classes in 60 days has always been just out of my reach. It just isn’t possible for me to juggle my schedule and the children’s schedules to get me to my mat everyday. Or twice in one day to make up if I have to miss day. I’m not a huge fan of setting myself up for failure. However, the idea of 40 classes in 8 weeks stuck with me and I found myself trying to work it out. I checked my calendar, in the last 8 weeks I’ve attended 30 classes. Adding 10 more in the next 8 weeks seems possible. (I say that now…). I love my Bikram practice. I anticipate there will be ups & downs on my mat but I’m not afraid of them. I know the health benefits. The yoga may end up being the easiest part of this undertaking.

The bigger part of the challenge  is going to be the time management. Which is actually why I feel as though I *must* do this. My time management is a mess, a disaster, abysmal. I need more structure. So this challenge will force me to give my schedule some attention. I’m going to make time by taking time away.  Right now I am paralyzed by my to-do list. I am in full-on ignore mode. Not a great idea when trying to build a business (even a tiny one).  I’m spending more time what-if-ing than getting anything accomplished. Which, everyone knows, means I’m afraid. I’m afraid of what I’m doing with Studio 219 (you can imagine the what-ifs here, do I really need to elaborate? Just your run of the mill trash thinking: what if the work, me, my ideas, etc. aren’t good enough blah, blah, blah). Basically, I’m committing to stop letting fear release me from responsibility. How do I plan to accomplish this? Easy: baby steps and a calendar. A global to-do list is being assembled as part of my prep work for the challenge to start on Monday. I am going to actually, physically schedule my time. With a pen and paper. Typing it into my BlackBerry just doesn’t cut it with me. When I write things down they become a part of my world; I’m more aware. It’s a physical act of commitment for me that must be done with a writing utensil (Utensil of choice? A fountain pen. {swoon}). Typing doesn’t create the same connection between my brain and the idea. So there will be a to-do list for the day and scheduled time for the tasks. There might be index cards and personalized notepads. There will be Moleskine notebooks (red cahier) and sketch pads (black reporter style) and my trusty momAgenda. Time will be marked for what must get done (including personal and the children’s commitments), plus time so that some thing for Studio 219 gets done for the day. Re-evaluate at the end of the day and plan for the next day. Simple, really but to a world -class procrastinator, a monumental task. I anticipate being tied to lists & my calendar for the next 8 weeks. It must be done.

An ancillary addition to the challenge: an 11pm bedtime. I can waste more time after 10:30pm than most people do all day. My Mother has said for years: nothing good happens after midnight. I’m not producing anything in the wee hours to convince her to change her mind. Around here I think I’m going to stay up late to work and I end up ‘cleaning-up’ my DVR & planning naps for the next day. I have no problem with 20 minute naps. I’m not a coffee person, so as far as I’m concerned for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up nothing’s better. But when I start trying to schedule 2 hour naps, things are out of control.

So there you have it. Things are going to be different around here. For eight weeks at least and we’ll see what sticks. I’m optimistic and ready for a change, essential elements to taking on any challenge, no?

Be on the look out for my next post about why I’m a Lent girl not a New Year’s resolution girl and why that made the choice to commit to this challenge easier. See you soon.