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. 🙈