It has been more than six years since I first started yoga. I have experienced a lot of physical and mental changes since then. While there are still many aspects with vast spaces for improvement, I know I have progressed. Yoga has always been more than just an exercise for me. It's a life style and a philosophy of life, but I have never really made a serious commitment to it. That's why I decided to do a 30-day challenge. What is the 30-day challenge? Well, you set your own span of time, for instance 15 mins, 30 mins, or 1 hour..., and practice yoga every day for at least that set amount of time for 30 consecutive days. The trick to making it possible, is to go a bit beyond your limit, within reason. At first I thought 15 mins was all I was up for. Then, I realised that it was not enough to 'feel' anything. I didn't want to feel too pressured, either, so I extended the time to 30 mins each day. Of course, having classes twice a week helped make it easier, since during those days, I didn't have to wake up half an hour earlier for yoga. These are the bits and pieces of thoughts, reflections, revelations, whatever you'd like to call them, I shared on Facebook as I progressed along the 30 days. I am not trying to show off how determined I am, or promulgate to the world how much I love yoga. It's just that being an ordinary person, we all need a bit of pressure, but not too much, to push ourselves in order to progress. Under the witness of friends, I am more determined to see its completion, than if I were to do it all on my own - because you know at least a few friends are waiting for that progress report!
Still not sure if I'm up for the challenge. Luckily, I had class today. So whether I decide to dedicate 15 mins, or 30 mins, the 1 hour class today made this first step easy. I'll have to see how strong my will is for the next few days!
Day 2 06:55-07:25 am.
It was pretty easy to go over the 15 min benchmark, but seeing it's only the second day, I wouldn't want to overestimate myself and say that it's going to be a piece of cake for the next 28 days. I will definitely try at least 15 mins, and if I go over, then hurrah! The point is to commit oneself, but without over-stressing. Yoga is not meant to exert stress. Maybe one day, if I get lazy, I could just say to myself, I did the corpse asana for 15 mins. Ha! Sounds easy, right. But to be in the corpse pose for 15 mins, without falling asleep... You try!
Day 3 07:50 - 08:20
I overcame the most challenging part today. A different setting and different environment. I'd thought this would be the most difficult part of the challenge! Fortunately I found my old Yoga mat at my parents, and found a big enough space to do my session today. I find it hard to get into the more advance asanas within such a short time span. However, because of recent events, my emotions have been affected. I found today's session calming and soothing.
Day 4 08:15 - 08:45
Day 5 06:55 - 07:25
Day 6 12:10 - 13:10 Class.
Day 7 6:45 - 7:15
Day 8 12:10~13:10 Class.
Day 9 06:50~07:20
Why do you think people who exercise always seem so happy? While most people think chick flicks are a waste of time, and most of them are, once in a blue moon, a line or two gets stuck in your head. In 'Legally Blonde', the reason the protagonist, Elle Woods, believes her client, didn't commit the murder was because 'Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins makes you happy. Happy people just don't shoot their husbands.' This line somehow got stuck with me, and some years later, I realised how true this is. Being lazy gets you stuck in a vicious cycle. Yes, it's our dear old friend the vicious cycle again. And life is full of them. The easiest way to get out of that cycle, is to get your arse up, and start exercising. Start small, then gradually extend it. I think what I have learned up to now is that I am so full of excuses, but aren't we all? Once in a while, you can indulge yourself, but I think I want to develop a healthy routine, so I can indulge myself more often! Ha!
Day 10 07:25~08:30
This seems awfully early to wake up on a Saturday, but I've had enough sleep, and knew I didn't need any more. It's funny because I've been going to be a lot earlier than usual since the challenge started, but somehow, I manage to get more things done in a day, without feeling completely worn out. Yesterday, I went to bed worrying about not having time to do things. After the yoga session, I immediately started to do what I had been putting off for the past two weeks. And now, I still feel quite energetic. Ready for the day!
Day 11 Ultra Pure Yoga Experience 極致萬人瑜珈
After years of practice, this is still all that I can do. But I won't give up now! One day, I will lie flat on the ground!
Day 12 10:00~10:40
Today I did a bit of change. Instead of using a timer, limiting my time of practice, I used a stopwatch and timed my session. This change means I am no longer bound by a limited time, and I can go on if I wanted to extend the practice. I found that because of this change, the session went more smoothly. In life, there are many limits and boundaries that stop us from doing things. They form a prison cell around us, and we are bound from growth and development. What we need is to find the balance to discipline ourselves, without limiting ourselves.
Day 13 12:10~13:10 Class.
Day 14 6:40~7:15
Day 15. 12:10~13:10 Class.
'The challenge of yoga is to go beyond our limits within reason.' - B.K.S. Iyengar
Day 16 09:45~10:20
I was asked the other day what level of yoga I'm in. This is an impossible question, for there are no 'levels'. True masters of yoga wouldn't consider themselves masters. Everyone's equal. But why, then, do yoga? Because it makes you flexible. Not just in terms of your physical body, though, but your mind and spirit. Being flexible allows you to accept and adapt to unexpected changes, instead of generating negative feelings. The goal is to calm yourself, so when you breathe, eat, drink, walk...etc... you do them gently and softly, accepting the world as it is, with an appreciative heart.
Day 17 07:45~08:20
With limited access to a computer, I only recorded the times of practice, instead of writing a short entry.
Day 19 06:45~07:25
One phrase popped into my mind as I was practicing the balance postures - the Thai phrase ใจเย็นเย็น(jai yen yen), literally translated as cool heart, meaning calm. When you're in class, the teacher would always remind you that in order to keep your balance, you need to concentrate and to calm down your heart. I remember when we first got to Thailand, we would get so annoyed with how slow everything was. Of course, I didn't realise at that time that one day, ใจเย็นเย็น would take on a whole new level of meaning. We, especially city people, are so impatient with everything. We have lost the ability to 'wait'. We are in danger of losing the virtue of patience. Because of this, we are unable to balance, literally and figuratively. That is why I find yoga so intriguing. In practicing the different asanas, you are learning to be a better self. Cool your heart down from the impatience in life, and just enjoy. Enjoy the Now.
Day 20 12:10~13:10 Class
Only ten more days left, until I complete this challenge. I'm not sure how I feel about it. On the one hand I am looking forward to sleeping till a later time, but on the other, I know the drowsiness will come back. And without the motivation of having to complete a challenge, I know it will be harder to get me arse out of bed to make enough time for yoga in the morning. I think I proved myself right this morning, about how snoozing your alarm can become a vicious cycle. Even though I got up before the second snooze, I felt half-awake until only after yoga class.
Day 21 06:40~07:15
Did you know that there are many ways you can practice yoga during your everyday routines? When you are commuting on the bus or one the subway, there are many chances of practicing balance. Be safe, but you can try and keep your balance, especially when there is nothing around to hold on to. When you climb up the stairs, you can try and not stomp, but instead try and tread lightly up them. I walk to work, and on average, only get about twice a week where I get to use public transport. When I do, I either only hold on to the rail ever-so-gently, or I don't hold on at all. And when climbing up the stairs, I try not to take heavy steps and tread lightly instead. I want to be light and quick, but not hasty.
Day 22 12:10~13:10 Class
Eight more days~ Kids doing yoga, so cute :P
Day 23 06:40~07:15
True story. As some of my friends know, I've recently taken up the piano. In the beginning, it was fun. Because the basics were still pretty easy. Then it began to get harder. And as I got busy and lost the time to practice, I started to feel like maybe I wasn't meant to do this! Then, I thought about the time when I first started doing Yoga. The only thing I could do well was back bends and side bends. I couldn't do a forward bend and touch my toes without slouching or bending my knees. I couldn't do the plow with my toes touching the ground above my head in the first six months. There were so many asanas I couldn't do... and a lot of them have now slowly given in to me. How did I conquer those asanas? By practicing over time! Practice may not make perfect, but it most certainly can make better!
「一開始你不需要是強大的，但想要強大就必須要有開始」這是真的。有些朋友知道我最近開始學鋼琴。剛開始很簡單也很好玩。畢竟基礎會難道哪裡去呀。後來就變得越來越難。當生活開始忙碌，練習時間也變少，我開始覺得或許我根本就不該去碰鋼琴吧！不過我開始想起當初練瑜珈的時候。當時我能做得很好的也只有後彎跟側彎。若沒有弓背＋彎曲膝蓋，前彎我根本無法碰到腳趾頭。犁鋤式也是練了半年後腳才真的碰的到頭上方的地面。好多好多體位法我根本就做的不到位，但它們一個個得漸漸屈服了！我是怎麼征服它們的呢？當然是靠長時間下來的練習啊！英文有句話說Practice makes perfect。或許練習不一定能讓夠達成完美，但不可否認的是，練習絕對可以讓你更好。
Day 25 10:25~11:00
The sky, after a successful outdoor yoga session.
Day 26 06:50~07:20
Day 27 12:10~13:10 Class.
I've reached the final fourth day of the challenge. Sometimes I wonder why I have so much to talk about. I appreciate all the 'Like' with which you've indulged me. It's certainly an encouragement. But I hope you realise at the same time that because I talk so much, I don't know anything. Remember the famous Lao-tze saying? 'Those who know, don't talk; those who talk, don't know." I'm learning bit by bit just like you. None of us are perfect, but we can all progress little by little towards it, and get as close to it as possible.
Day 28 06:45~07:25
It was so difficult to get out of bed this morning. My duvet was so nice and warm. I am guilty of putting the alarm on for another 10 minutes after it first rang. Thank goodness I'm near the end. This was what pushed me out of bed. I think I've made a right choice to do this at this time of the year. It's not dreadfully cold yet, and you have to work really hard on yourself to sweat. But speaking of cold weather, winter is probably the time that exercise is actually more needed than any other season. It helps blood circulation and warms you up. You won't feel as cold if you keep up a routine to exercise (no matter what kind). And this is me speaking from the experience of having once dreaded the cold.
Day 29! 12:10~13:10 Class.
It's very important to have a good and decent teacher, especially during the beginning of your yoga experience. I have been very lucky to have had met many good yoga instructors up till now. Sure I've met a few who had not been so good, but once in a while, they can offer a different experience as well. Qualifications are obviously important. But what's more important is what they actually give you. They don't need to be world-renowned, or charge you a fortune in order to offer you enlightenment. In the end, however, no matter how much a teacher can offer you, the best teacher, is always you.
Day 30 06:35~07:15
I did it! Thanks, everyone, for putting up with my yoga updates here. It's over now. These 30 days has taught me that we are all very good at finding excuses for ourselves! (Surprise!) It's been a great experience, and I think I will do it again in the spring next year, before it gets too hot. It's been fun and and absolutely enlightening. Thanks for those who's clicked Like on all 30 days of my updates, and those who follow and support in secret. I love you all. Om.