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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Yoga Bootcamp

Last week, I woke up at 4:15am from Tuesday to Sunday. I brushed my teeth, got dressed, packed my things for the day, and arrived at the yoga studio at 5am. I handed in my journal, which included everything I ate the day before, how much water I drank, and how much sleep I got the night before, to my teacher who closely scrutinized the data. After our journals were appraised, we all sat down on our mats for a brief discussion. The instructor asked how we were doing with the diet (no refined sugar or flour, at least one salad a day, vegetarian) and asked us to share with the whole group things she had read in our journal. We would discuss our assignment for the present day and then get down to about an hour of asana practice (yoga poses and flow). Except for Wednesday morning, when we practiced deep and sustained stretches or yin yoga, we worked on a warming vinyasa flow sequence; we practiced the same flow sequence several times in one class and the same flow each class so that we could build strength and stability in the poses in the sequence.

Anyone that knows me, knows that I am absolutely not a morning person. I truly require 8 hours of sleep to be functional and I value sleep above most other things. I love to nap, and I take long naps on weekends and short naps on weekdays. When I am tired, I am grouchy, impatient, and sometimes mean. So, why would I subject myself to something that I knew would make me miserable? Well, I didn't reaaally choose to participate. The weeklong workshop was offered to me as a gift wrapped up in a compliment. Nishtha, the owner of the studio where I teach yoga, called me and asked me to participate as a gift, citing that she had really enjoyed my company at a recent event at the studio and would like to have me participate. I had been meaning to wake up 30 minutes earlier to practice asana before work for weeks, but consistently press snooze until the very latest I can get away with. I really believe that yoga in the morning would relieve some of the low back and hip pain that I feel while farming all day, and thought that the bootcamp might be the perfect way to kickstart my morning yoga practice. So, I said yes to Nishtha's offer, quite enthusiastically in fact.

Honestly, I can barely remember last week. My alarm went off at 4:15 am and I popped out of bed, terrified of oversleeping. My dozing puppy would open one eye, look at me, and roll over in the other direction, continuing to sleep without the bathroom light interrupting his slumber. I grabbed my lunch and breakfast, made tea, and headed out the 24hour gate because the gate closest to my house was not even open that early. While practicing at the studio, my vritti (internal dialog) was all over the place and very negative. I thought mean things about myself, my practice, my teacher, and my classmates. I left in a hurry, uninterested in speaking to the other participants, and eager to get to the parking lot at the farm so that I could sleep in my backseat for 20 minutes before the work-day started. When I woke again at 6:56am, all I could think about was the next time I could nap. I stayed focused on staying awake until lunch, ate in a hurry, and slept for 30 more minutes in the backseat; I even brought a pillow with me. Tuesday and Wednesday evening I taught yoga, Thursday night I had some girlfriends over for dinner, and Friday night I went to a power vinyasa class at Grassroots Yoga before eating dinner with another girlfriend. Saturday's bootcamp was the most difficult of the week. I actually fell asleep in several poses, including standing poses, I swear! I left class at 7:10 am (2hr classes on the weekend), went home, and slept for 4 hours. After my nap, I felt much better; I went shopping and made veggie and quinoa patties for a potluck birthday party that evening and potluck breakfast after the last day of bootcamp the following morning. As I was falling asleep Saturday night, I was planning how I could skip the breakfast and sleep before I taught yoga at 10am.

On Sunday morning, I was still thinking about how I could get out of attending the breakfast pot-luck as I got dressed and headed to the last class. During class, I felt better than I expected, and after class I was hungry! I walked to breakfast with Nishtha and the event was surprisingly pleasant. Having some sleep, and completing something quite hard for me with a group of other people struggling in their own way, made reminiscing on the experience and talking about other yoga and life topics very fun and enjoyable. The coffee might have helped, too. I left the breakfast early to teach Sunday morning yoga and taught one of the best classes I have ever taught. Was it the hard work, self discipline, and abundance of yoga in my life that week, or was it just a good class? I don't know, but with boot camp having come to a close, I felt accomplished and happy and looking forward to future yoga challenges.

So now it is Tuesday, two days after the completion of yoga bootcamp. Have I continued to wake up at 4:15am and shun refined sugar and flour? Not really. I did several sun salutations before work on Monday, but I had non-dairy soy ice cream Monday night. Today, I stayed away from the frozen desert, but I didn't wake up to do any practice this morning (with the excuse that I was teaching a class this evening). Has bootcamp changed my life? Probably not. But, I do think that I will be more aware of my food choices in the next couple weeks and maybe beyond. And, I will keep working on building a morning yoga practice a little bit at a time.