My family is a super athletic group of people. One of my sisters woke before the sun rose this Saturday for a bike ride that I'm sure was probably 20+ miles long. The other sister and her boyfriend run marathons, albeit not as fast as my uncle and brother-in-law who have run the 26.2 miles in less than three hours. My mom was an avid swimmer growing up and took up kickboxing well into her fifties. In the above photo, they're comparing the foot injuries they've acquired from running too much; I'm not joking. And then there's me. I'm not an inactive person. I have a gym membership, I walk to and from work every day, I run a couple miles a couple times every week. But when we all get together for family vacations, I might as well be Jabba the Hutt. That's less a comment on my size and more a comment on how comparably stationary I am to my always-moving family.
I've never really been fit, but that's not something that's ever truly troubled me especially. I'm so pale that my bathing suit fears have way more to do with my skin burning to a crisp than any unsightly pudge. However, the most in-shape my body's ever been was during one winter break from college. Me and my best friend/roommate were both spending the break in the dorms, and we made a vow to each other that we'd go to a yoga class every day. We were broke, so we walked both ways (despite the deep freeze that had settled over NYC that January), about a hundred and twenty blocks, or about six miles. Every day we did it, for a bit more than a month.
The exercise routine wasn't vigorous, but it made me feel good which was a totally new thing for me. I was used to avoiding exercise because it meant running on a treadmill (ugh) while watching a communal gym TV that someone always had on CNN or ESPN (??). Our yoga situation was perfect and by the end of the five weeks off from school, I was lean, my heels touched the floor when I did my down dog, I was meditating every day, and I had the added benefit of hanging out with my best friend the whole time.
Sadly, I can't always be on winter break, nor do I have 3+ hours to devote to exercise nowadays. The yoga studio I like isn't terribly inconvenient to get to, but when you've got a hungry corgi waiting at home for you after work, it's tough to find the time to fit it all in.
When my family was on our recent family vacation, though, my oldest sister inspired me to start my yoga home practice. She's a yoga instructor (I told you I'm the slug of the family), and she was telling me about how much her practice changed and improved once she started practicing at home, following her breath and coming up with her own sequences. She, of course, has way more training than I do in knowing how a sequence should go, or knowing what to work toward, but I still felt like this was something I wanted to try.
So, I decided that for the next 100 days, I'm going to try to work on my home practice. I have a calendar with empty days ready to be x'ed off as I track my progress. That said, I'm only on day two and I already have 1,000,000 questions. Luckily, Leigh (yoga instructor sister who is also philosophy professor) has to love me no matter how many texts I send her about asanas, so I have a FREE, eloquent, well-educated resource for answering all of my "wait, so how many sun salutations should I be doing?"-type questions. I've already sent her a handful of topics that she generously responded to, so I thought I'd share some of her insights with you all as I get my "100 Days Project" underway!
For starters, she says, " I bet that you'll find that once you've begun this, it'll get easier, more natural, and you'll answer almost all of your own questions yourself." Spoken like a true yogi....
You can follow my sister here and if you live in the Buffalo area, I highly recommend checking out some of her yoga classes!
Anyway, look out for part two of my yoga experiment in the next week or two! And I'd love to know: Do you practice yoga at home? Do you have any tips you could share? Let me know in the comments or tweet at me. I'd love to hear about your journey!