I’ve taken a few months off of explicitly doing a monthly experiment. September/October were unofficially me decluttering my life and slowing down (ahem, a work in progress. I don’t have some big announcement to make concerning that) and I’ve been doing a no-spend month for November (tune in next week for the spending report to see how that went!). But for this last month of the year (!!?) I’m back to doing a monthly experiment in the vein of my previous ones. In December I’m doing a 30 day yoga challenge.
Yes, you read that right. And trust me, I’m as shocked as you are that I’m saying this.
New year, new me!
I’ve been saying this entire year that I’d probably end up doing this experiment at some point, so this was inevitable.
And honestly December is a good time to do this rather than waiting for January or another month next year. As my monthly experiments might suggest, I’ve fallen off the New Year’s Resolutions bandwagon of taking an arbitrary day to make big, sweeping changes all of a sudden and hope they’ll stick. Taking on the extremely uncharacteristic-for-me challenge of yoga randomly in December helps to remind me that I can make incremental changes whenever I want and don’t have to wait for a specific date to do so.
Yoga: how much do I hate it? Let me count the ways
If you’ve been following me for a bit, you’ve probably seen my comments across the internet about how much I hate yoga.
This is the opposite of what’s supposed to happen
Instead of relaxing me, yoga makes me angry. It reminds me of what my body used to be able to do back when I was dancing. I was never super flexible, and almost a decade has passed since I stopped doing ballet, so suffice it to say my flexibility has gone downhill since then.
Where are the modifications???
What I love about barre/my chosen form of exercise is that there are substantial modifications available for things that don’t feel good. Fourteen years of ballet wasn’t the kindest on my joints, and I don’t remember the last time I walked into a barre class without one of my various pain points acting up (shoulders, hip flexors, occasionally my low back, sometimes one or both knees or one or both ankles…am I in my mid-20s or already a senior citizen??).
But that’s okay. Because I know what works and doesn’t work for my body and I can change postures based on how I’m feeling. I never do planks on the ground (murder on the shoulders) but do them at the barre instead. There isn’t really a way to modify boat pose (murder on the hips), but given I modify the hell out of many other things in class, I feel no compunction or self-consciousness about keeping my toes on the ground for it.
But there are no modifications available in yoga, at least that I’ve come across. And the ones that instructors offer don’t do much to change the posture. If the tendonitis in one or both of my ankles is acting up, that’s just too damn bad for me for any poses that require standing unsupported on one foot. With barre sometimes I’ll adjust a posture slightly, but frequently I move to a different one altogether that works similar muscles. Even something as simple as keeping my toes on the ground for boat pose was never something I felt like I could do in a yoga class; maybe that’s a comment on me, but for some reason barre feels more forgiving of not following along exactly with the rest of the class, despite yoga mantras of “honor your truth” or “do what feels good.”
So good thing I’ll be doing this in my apartment instead! If something is actively hurting, I’m not going to hold a pose just to say I did it.
I cannot overstate how much I hate this pose
And lastly, I fucking hate downward dog. How is that a restorative pose with the blood rushing to your (or mine, anyway) head within two seconds (also murder on the shoulders)? Child’s pose for me, thanks!
What about just not doing something I hate?
With that long litany of reasons why I hate yoga, why on earth am I willingly taking on this challenge?
Maybe I should actually Do The Thing
Well, for one, my experience with yoga has been a grand total of about six one-off classes. I go to class, get mad/don’t enjoy it/can’t justify paying for drop-in classes when I’m already spending a ton on my barre membership, remember why I don’t do yoga, and refuse to go ever again. Until a few months later when a friend wants to go to a class or I decide to give it another try to see if this time will be different. Rinse and repeat.
But I figure if I’m going to say yoga is definitely not for me, I should probably give it a sustained, actual try. If at the end of this challenge I decide I still hate it, at least then I actually know I don’t like it. A class once or twice a year does not an informed opinion make.
If nothing else
And second, winter is the actual worst. It’s dark all the time, which is a solar-powered human/Seasonal Affective Disorder sufferer’s worst nightmare. It’s also cold. I don’t like being cold in general (and I am cold all the time), but the bitter cold of winter tends to get into my joints and makes me feel old. My knees and/or ankles will occasionally twinge during the summer, but there’s nothing like winter to make my tendonitis act up constantly. If there’s ever a time for more stretching and gentle movement in my life, it’s winter. Perhaps a regular yoga practice might help me feel less stiff in the cold weather that I detest so much?
I’ve heard great things about Yoga with Adrienne on YouTube, so I’ll be doing her 30 day yoga challenge. (And yes, this is in addition to taking barre classes regularly. I’m still paying for my membership, plus I like the endorphin high I get from a good class! Yoga has yet to provide me with one of those.)
Actually by the time this posts, I’ll have cheated and already started the challenge. I’m going to be traveling for way more of the time around Christmas than I normally do, and I have no doubt there will be days I don’t get around to pulling up a video.
I also know myself: there are very likely going to be days where I just don’t want to do it (and fewer where I actually just can’t because I don’t have the time). Starting a week early gives me some breathing room to help ensure that I’m actually done with all 30 days by the end of the month.
So. I guess I’ve got quite a bit of downward dog in my immediate future! Yay?
Also, because I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention this: I’m good at barre. It’s a workout but I don’t have to work at it, if that makes sense. I’ve been doing it for a few years now, and while it’s not nearly (or really at all) as ballet-adjacent as the name would suggest, my ballet training certainly prepared me well for it.
Yoga? Not so good at that. Is that a factor here in my dislike of it? You bet it is. ?
18 Replies to “Twelve months of experiments: it’s the end of the year already?!”
This is awesome! I think the stretching from yoga will absolutely help out, especially in the winter. It’s great you’re giving it a shot! You never know, you may just like it ?
I think you were overly optimistic 😉
There are SO many modifications for yoga! I agree, you haven’t given it a fair shot. It all depends on the instructor’s willingness to show you other options (or, when you’re doing it at home, google is your friend to find alternatives!)
Still not nearly enough modifications for me—how do I avoid yoga practices with downward dog altogether (besides, yes, just taking child’s pose during it. I’m talking more of finding a yoga practice/type that doesn’t do that dang pose)? That would be the kind of yoga I’d be interested in!
Yeah, I think Angela’s right. I haven’t done a ton of yoga, but I’ve always had the impression that there are lots of modifications to be made. Maybe with the flexibility of doing the youtube program from home, you can also easily look up options to sub in when Adrienne suggests something you can’t do. (I like her videos, I think they’re a good choice)
Also, as for the blood rushing to your head thing- For a while I was working on getting good at handstands. It’s pretty common that blood rushing to your head makes it difficult when first learning, but everyone always said that after your body starts to get used to being upside down, blood to the head stops being problematic. I found that to be true, too, so hopefully after a week or two of practicing downward dog it’ll stop feeling so unnatural.
The blood rushing to my head got better, but was still nothing short of super uncomfortable. But at least it did get marginally better!
Sorry, but I’m with Angela. So many modifications are out there. I’m recovering, eternally, from spine and SI joint fusions, and there are modifications for every posture. Maybe it’s the TYPE of yoga you don’t like as much. For example, I don’t like flow yoga. Before my spine injuries, I only enjoyed getting my ass kicked in a 90 minute Bikram yoga class in a 105 degree room. Now? I prefer a 60 minute hot yoga class in a 90 degree room. No thank you to non-hot yoga. The heat eases my joints. Maybe try hot yoga? And talk to the instructor before hand about your specific pain points. I bet they’ll give you mods.
I’ve only taken one hot yoga class before, and it was something called spa yoga, which was half an hour of slow stretching and half an hour of essentially just laying on the mat. That’s definitely my kind of yoga! And yeah, I think I’m really just not a fan of flow yoga.
Ha. I can relate. I run, but I am not one of those people that enjoy running.
Hah and I’m one of those people who doesn’t enjoy running AND doesn’t run!
As a Yogi in a future life, I’m excited for you to do this challenge! I love yoga with Adrienne. Her videos are a slow pace which is great for beginners and since it’s in your own home you can hold onto walls or modify in any way you want.
As for boat pose, this is totally random but I have a modification I do for it because I never use my abs (I have my helpful quads). I would recommend you lie on your back, press your lower back into the mat and then raise your shins to be parallel with your knees. It’s just as much of a workout as normal boat pose, without all the hurt!
If you’re ever looking for a specific modification for a pose, feel free to msg me on Instagram. I’m a trained yoga teacher and if I can help, I will!
This was good to know, and we actually do a similar thing in barre during ab work so this is already a posture I was familiar with!
What kind of yoga are you doing? That might have an impact as well on how you like it…
I’m doing Kundalini yoga, and last week, I tried Hatha (it was tough and I didn’t like it as much).
Just gotta figure out what’s best 🙂
For some reason it’s hard to tell what type of yoga the YouTube series is, but I think most of the in-person classes I’ve taken are vinyasa/flow yoga, and this series seems similar. Which is to say I’m not a fan! Will definitely need to find a new type if there’s more yoga in my future.
I’m behind on reading posts yet again, but better late than never? You go girl, get that yogi on! I adore Adrienne, I don’t think I could handle anyone else at this point. I’m too much of a wuss for hard core flow or hot yoga things, I want calm and stretch and breathing, not pain and panting, that’s what spin or running is for. Wish I’d known, I’d start a 30 day challenge with you! If you end up loving it and want to do another text me first! 🙂
I’m going to agree with others and say you’ve been unlucky with your yoga experience so far: there are SO many modifications to allow for injuries/pain.
Ditto or possibly even more in Pilates, which I actually prefer to yoga (possibly due to my amazing Pilates instructor).
Yeah, the barre classes I take are a mix of a few different kinds of exercise, including Pilates, and I definitely prefer both the modification options and the movement itself far more than yoga.
I’m even too much of a wuss for most of Adrienne’s videos! The ones I’ve enjoyed/not hated most were by far the much slower stretching/breathing ones with way less of a flow practice. I want to say there was maybe a video with no downward dog at all? That was a good day! ? Which probably means I should just focus yet again on building a meditation practice, haha.