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namasday: setting yoga goals

Posted Feb 03 2013 9:40pm

I'm currently a little grumpy and have a pretty strong case of cabin fever. Puxatawney Phil is calling for an early spring, but here in DC snow is falling for the fourth time in a week, and even as someone who has lived through a northern Russian winter, I'm screaming uncle.

I do not like the winter. I do not like coughing for hours after long runs. I do not like that it takes me as long to get dressed for a short run as it does to complete it. And I do not like salt and the havoc it wreaks on my poor, poor puppy's paws.

Sad Jake :(

But I've got a race to train for, and it's getting closer every day, even though I keep willing time to stop. I've been cross-training as much as I can with yoga, and one of my inspirations for crossing the finish line after ten long miles on April 7 is that after it's all over I will dedicate myself fully to my yoga practice.

Currently I'm practicing twice a week, and I'm really feeling great when I do. So great, in fact, that I'll be slogging through hundreds of pages of reading on a Sunday night and taking a break every few minutes to visualize the steps of coming up into handstand (true story. it sounds much weirder when I type it out).

But wait, I used to be terrified of inversions! What happened?! And we all remember how I used to be terrified of breaking my nose in bakasana. It seems I've overcome that fear, and while I can't fly gracefully into crow directly from chair, and then shoot back off my arms into plank, lately in class I've been able to get into crow without a block, and to sustain it for longer than ever.


I'm going to ride that feeling and set some yoga goals for myself, though I'm a little hesitant to call them that, as they aren't the hard-and-fast "I will do X by Y" type. They're more intentions for the deepening of my practice in the next few months, which sounds pretty yogic to me, so it must be the right direction :)

1. Get in and out of Crow more gracefully. I'm not aiming to rocket out from plank or anything crazy like that. Just not wobbling and crashing every time would be nice.

2. Increase the repetitions and durations of my Wheel. A recent instructor referred to Wheel as the pinacle of any Vinyasa class. In the typical flow of three backbends, I usually "try" wheel for the middle one, never stay up the whole time, and feel awful about myself while I hang out in Bridge during the third time around. Not any more! I want to commit to going up twice, filling out that second repetition and hanging on as long as I can for number three. Eventually I'm hoping that the first round will blossom into a wheel as well :)

3. Bound headstand. Do it. I discovered the other night while playing around with one of our empty walls (ah, the joys of a bigger house) that I can semi-successfully get into a bound-headstand tuck, that is, with my feet off the ground but not extended up toward the ceiling. It looks and feels silly. like so
I plan on rocking that tuck, crashing into the wall and floor a bunch of times, and freaking out my fiance and Jake until finally- finally!- I will fully extend my legs... and probably fall down right away.

4. Handstand. Work it. I need a ton more arm and core strength for this one, so I'm going to keep working the prep for this pose at home.

5. 40 Days to Personal Revolution- My new studio is offering Baptiste's infamous 40 Days program starting in April. 6 days of yoga per week, twice daily meditations, mindful eating, and group support sounds like a wonderful way to journey from my 10 miler to graduation, our wedding, and a deeper understanding of myself, don't you think?

I think having these five paths will help me approach my practice with more intentionality, while accepting that failure is a-okay. To me, yoga is about trying and failing a million times before you triumphantly reach your goal -- it's a perfect metaphor for life.

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