30 Days of Yoga: Day 19 (progress report)
When I first tried to do one of Marianne Elliott’s yoga videos I lasted about five minutes before I started laughing maniacally, and another ten before I gave up and watched the rest of the video while lying on the floor. In the past I’ve practised Iyengar yoga, a style in which you move into a pose, and then release it, move into another pose, and release it. In the style Marianne teaches the poses flow together, so instead of taking a tiny break between each pose you move from one pose straight into the next. Coupled with wrists and ankles not used to bearing a lot of weight and five years of sitting on my arse and I was so tight and tense and inflexible that Marianne’s video just seemed totally ludicrous to me.
That was back in June, when Marianne released a ‘Yoga for Writers’ video to coincide with a 21-day yoga and writing practice led by Bindu Wiles. I tried that video the one time, collapsed partway in, and didn’t try it again. God knows what made me come back for more with October’s 30 Days of Yoga, but something drew me back and I signed up.
In my last post I described doing (doing? taking? lying in?) savasana for ten minutes as my practice for day one of the program. The next day, I did the full session I had chosen for the program – one focusing on balance. I’ve been having a lot of problems with my feet and ankles and legs and I wanted to stretch them and strengthen them.
I didn’t give up this time. But I did laugh incredulously at some of the sequences, and my stiff body failed many times to come even close to what was Marianne was describing onscreen.
I got through to the end of the video, but I started to wonder if I’d made a silly mistake in thinking Marianne Elliott’s teaching was for me.
On day two, in the spirit of scientific enquiry, I did the practice again. And it was fine. Not easy, not by a long stretch, but my body had loosened up enough with that first session that, after working out a couple of adjustments, what seemed almost impossible the day before was perfectly simple now. The change I felt in my body was ridiculous. And awesome.
I didn’t do the full sequence every day – I skipped bits on some days, and others I did a wrist and shoulder stretch instead. But after a week I felt incredible – fit and strong and flexible. I waking up in the morning with a sore back. I did some non-sucky yoga one day when I wanted my practice to feel more like a nap, and was able to go deeper into the stretches than ever before.
Then I fell off the wagon. I was too tired, my body felt sore, the repetition was getting to me, whatever. I stopped practising every day, and then I stopped altogether. My sore back came back. My feet started playing up again. I got miserable.
I lost track of how many days of yoga I missed. I think it’s been about a week. On Thursday last week Marianne sent an email for those of us who have drifted off, which included the message, ‘So, this week, I’m inviting you to bring your beginners mind and body back to the mat. Whatever you have or have not done in the past two weeks is now gone.’ I felt better, but it still took me until today to get back on the mat.
Tonight I did the Yoga for Writers sequence for the second time in my life, and compared to the balance flow I was ‘meant’ to do for these 30 days it was *so easy*. All the stuff that seemed completely out of my reach in June was simple. I feel pretty good, and I know that if I keep it up in a few more days I’ll feel fantastic.