“If you make it a big deal, it’s a big deal.”
Hi! I’m participating in a 40 Days to Personal Revolution program at Lyons Den Power Yoga. If you’re new around these parts, welcome! Here’s my introduction to the 40 Days challenge, plus my recaps from Week 1, Week 2, and Week 3.
They say “there’s beauty in the breakdown,” and by “they” I of course mean that singer named Frou Frou who sings that song…”Beauty in the Breakdown.” [Edited to add that it is actually called “Let Go.” My bad.]
In yoga — and in life — we’re often reminded that sometimes breakdowns have to happen to allow for breakthroughs. I believe it.
This past week — which in the 40 Days program was our “Restoration” week — was my breakdown week. (Sorry that I said “week” three times in one sentence.) And by the end of the week, I felt so much better.
On Tuesday evenings, I take class from 7:15–8:30, and then we have our weekly 40 Days meeting from 8:30 until whenever we’re done. It’s supposed to be an hour, but it’s usually longer, and then it takes me 19 hours to get home (roughly). It’s a late night by my standards.
Wednesday mornings are usually for either 7 AM yoga or 6:28 AM November Project. So needless to say, the Tuesday-to-Wednesday transition/lack of sleep period stresses me out. And last Tuesday night, after the meeting, and after the expensive cab ride home (whatever), I had my breakdown.
I just couldn’t fathom getting up the next morning. Not to do yoga, not to go to November Project, not to do anything. I wanted to sleep forever. I was exhausted, I was stressed about everything apparently, and I needed my break. I shed more than a few tears to Brian and as soon as I heard myself say something about “needing to do it all,” I knew I was being more than a little ridiculous and maaaaaaybe a touch dramatic.
So despite the fact that it was my first week of Brooklyn Half Marathon training and I had my first speed workout on the docket, I gave myself an extra three hours of snooze time Wednesday morning. I didn’t go to yoga. I didn’t go to November Project. And I didn’t do my speed workout. I didn’t run at all. I gave myself a total day off from anything physical because it was so clear I needed it. I took a long shower and actually blow-dried my hair for once. The luxury! (I wrote about it a bit more in my latest Shape column.)
It’s not like me to abandon my plans, but through a few years of running and a few intense weeks of yoga, I’m learning to listen to my mind and my body a little bit more. My various “plans” said to do all kinds of physical activity that day, but my mind and body needed the break.
I skipped more than one of my scheduled runs last week. And, go figure, I feel pretty great going into this week. Last night I had so much energy that I decided to perform all the dance routines from High School Musical, High School Musical 3: Senior Year, and Pitch Perfect in the living room. Full out. (Do you want to come dance with me next time? It’s so fun, and Brian doesn’t mind.)
I took the theme of the week pretty seriously, and tried to be really mindful of using the week to truly restore my mind and body. How many times in this post can I say “mind and body?” Probably a lot. Here’s how the rest of my “Restoration” week played out.
Daily Yoga Practice
This is still my favorite part of the 40 Days program. While the trek to TriBeCa is taking its toll (and taking up a lot of my time), I love being there. I’ve met so many new people through this program, and love that I always know at least five people in any given class. Last week included the usual mix of four 60-minute classes, a 75-minute class, and a 90-minute class.
My big physical goal for the challenge was to drop my fear about kicking up into handstand (it just seems way too easy to kick too hard, flip over, and snap your neck, right?), and I’m conquering that nicely, one hop at a time. It’s exciting to be getting stronger in the studio. There are so many poses that used to be wobble-fests for me, like Prayer Twist in Crescent Lunge (definitely the official name of that pose) and Half-Moon, but now I pop into them worry- and wobble-free most days.
Conclusion to this section: I love yoga. Still.
Second conclusion to this section: When I was little and we would go on family vacations, I would always be such a brat and make my mom “rate my handstands” in the pool. They were so bad, I’m sure, but I demanded she watch me obsessively instead of reading her latest Mary Higgins Clark novel (fun fact: Mary Higgins Clark spoke at my college graduation; I don’t remember what she said because I was nursing the second-worst hangover of my life).
You’d think I would have grown out of my childhood “Rate my Handstand” phase, but it seems I have not. Because every night when Brian comes home, I ask him about his day, and then ask him to “spot me” while I practice my handstand for 20 minutes. I’m sure he loves it and would rather get kicked in the face repeatedly (sorry) than sit down and eat his dinner.
Um…if we’re being honest here, my meditation practice has fallen into the “no bueno” category. I just haven’t been prioritizing it. Though, thank you to those of you who gave me some great suggestions last week about how to improve my meditation and approach it from a different perspective.
Instead of forcing myself to do 25 minutes of meditation (which is what we’re up to this week — yowza!), I decided, “I will just meditate. I’ll start, and when I’m done, I will be done.” That worked really well for me last week, and most days I ended up doing around 10 minutes at a time! Not the 20 we were “supposed” to do, but I figured 10 great minutes of meditation was better than 20 minutes of fidgety, half-assed meditating.
Week 4 included a fruit cleanse. My thoughts on this are, unsurprisingly I’m sure, not awesome. I don’t really believe in cleanses. I don’t believe our bodies need to be “cleansed” for the most part, and I know that I personally don’t do well when I cut out entire food groups or items because it just makes me want them more. And then, after the cleanse, I end up eating way worse than I was before because I deprived myself of certain foods. I just don’t see any science- or nutritionist-approved reason to only eat fruit. It seems like a random thing that Baron Baptiste did once and enjoyed.
But I gave it a shot, thinking if my body seriously rejected it or if I were totally miserable, then I could stop. I wasn’t being forced into it, and lots of people chose to modify or supplement the “cleanse” or “feast” or “fast” (call it whatever) with protein. And hey, maybe I would get something out of it!
My three day experience went mostly drama free. “If you create drama around it, there will be drama around it,” Bethany, ever the wise one, told us. And that really resonated with me. I decided to approach it mindfully and without panic, and I had a drama-free experience.
I definitely didn’t eat enough during my first day, and my second day was that Wednesday I took as a rest day, which worked out well. I made spaghetti squash that day, and I just can’t bring myself to love spaghetti squash the way some people obsess over it.
By the third day, I was just sort of over it. My friend suggested I try plantain chips and guacamole as a snack, and that was amazing. My other favorite snacks were the I Love Watermelon smoothie from Juice Generation, raw green peppers, and a sliced beefsteak tomato with salt and pepper.
We were advised to “ease off the fruit cleanse,” and I ignored that advice completely by having our first wedding tasting the following day and eating about 12 different kinds sliders and some delicious curried shrimps (I like saying “shrimps” even though it’s not right) and a pizza later that night, because that was necessary.
So that was the fruit cleanse. Some people liked it, others hated it. I was mostly indifferent toward it. It helped me be more aware of the fact that I eat way too much food and can definitely by satisfied by eating much less. But…then I ordered a whole pizza after doing a full wedding menu tasting. So…case closed. #science
I journaled the heck out of this week. As nice as it is having this blog to record more general feelings and statements, I loved getting into the nittier, grittier, way more personal stuff in my private little journal. This week I got into some pretty heavy stuff about my relationship with my body and how I treat it and talk to it, and about the kind of person I want to be in general. Soul searching. SoulCycle.
A few Excavation Questions I really enjoyed this week:
- Where in your life do you need to just relax with what is? (i.e. Stop trying to fix everything, Alison!)
- What excess baggage am I carrying around with me? What thoughts, feelings, worries, or past situations am I clinging to that drain me?
- What do I most need to let go of? (Baron Baptiste, ending those sentences with prepositions again! Shame.)
Our cable box died the other day. It was sad, but luckily we have Apple TV so I could speed through the entire season of “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.” (Brian and I now spontaneously scream “Pinoooooot Noiiiiiir!” or “They alive, damnit!” at each other all night, every night — you can relate, yes?) But eventually I was like, “I have to suck it up and deal with this.”
I had to do one of the worst, most stressful and horrible To-Do List tasks imaginable: I had to pick up the phone and call Time Warner Cable.
I actually found a loophole, and was able to get the issue partially resolved via TWC’s Live Chat system. That’s better than getting transferred around after sitting on hold for 2.6 hours. I used to get so worked up in these situations. But yesterday? Calm as a clam. If clams are calm.
I’ve really taken the “equanimity” theme from the previous week and applied it to all areas of my life. I find myself handling both personal and professional situations with far more grace, tact, and patience than I ever used to.
I’m also learning to let myself “fail” more. Sometimes “failing” means falling over in a yoga pose; other times it means taking a big life risk and not having it work out the way you hoped. I’ve experienced both a lot lately, and I come out on the other side stronger and more aware.
With that, something to take with you this week (if you’ve made it this far, which…thank you and congratulations): “We learn the most when we fail.” Bethany said that at last week’s meeting and it really stuck with me.
Try it on. Take that risk. See what happens.