This really aptly illustrates the way I’m feeling about yoga this week. Starts off easy enough, gets tougher, then a little tougher, then tougher still, until finally – there is none. I debated momentarily about “Day 9” showing no imprint on the mat. Finally, I laughed wryly to myself thinking: That’s because the poor fool finally gave up.
This week has been to the Digital 40 Days yoga challenge what the middle miles were on the Rogue 30K: Tough, slow, and all but non-existent. Come to think of it, this yoga challenge has been much more like the endurances races I’ve done than I ever would have thought. I started out vigorous and strong, excited and enthused. I thought I was doing everything perfectly. Like starting a race, I thought my form looked great, my breathing was good, heck — I could even muster a grin.
But, before long, I was starting to sag slightly. The edges of the postures started to dull, my vigor and vim for new streaming podcasts was waning, and I began to feel encroached by the whole process. This was like the early middle miles, say, 6-8, where the newness has worn off but the reality of just how far there is to go is still pretty overwhelming. Just before the halfway point, around Days 15-18, I was feeling a mini-high about getting almost halfway through only one miss. And like clockwork, as soon as I patted my own mental back for that, then I started missing. I missed 17, then 18, then 19.
I clenched my teeth this past week and scheduled myself for three doubles to get caught up. And again, like clockwork, I came down with a cold. Now I was missing on top of missing and feeling worse than ever. Instead of feeling entitled to miss just ONE (or two, or three) classes, I was feeling hopelessly behind having nearly a week of classes to make up as the challenge marches mercilessly on. Not only are the missed classes mounting, but my energy to take on the challenge was continually atrophying before my very eyes. Even if I’d had the energy of week one, it would have been tough to pile those classes on. Just like in a distance race where, even with the energy of the first miles, the tenth and eleventh miles are still piling on. And now I’m in the final third of the challenge, not quite riding on home-stretch adrenaline yet. It’s a bit of a spiral as my momentum continues to slow, while the pace of the challenge remains unchanged. The Couch Potato Within is shouting now: “That commenter was so right: ‘You suck dude . . . 0 willpower.'” If I’m this far behind, why even bother?
But wait . . . that can’t be right.
I understand the idea that rest and recovery are as important as distance and speed when it comes to training. Even Baron Baptiste emphasizes this as part of the yoga challenge. Why, then, do I have a harder time with this than with any other part of training or the challenge? What I need here is summon the mental grit from endurance training, “Embrace the suck” as race fans’ signs read, and sit in equanimity as Baron puts it. These mantras are the same, and the approach to surviving this challenge should be the same as any other endurance challenge: Just be with it, just do your very best.
It’s time now to stop being off the mat and start being above it.