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Cindy-Lee’s 30-day Yoga Challenge in Cape Town!

December 1, 2011

I’m a student at Yo Yoga and decided to take the challenge of doing 30 classes in 30 days.

Day 1 to 8:

So Day 1 to 8 at this point is a blur, as it happened so long ago and very quickly. Let me first get to terms with why my daily diary has disappeared off Facebook. Facebook has decided that to encourage communication and feedback, it will delete the Discussion and Review Tabs from groups. This happened without warning, so I was peeved as hell as I did not think I had to save my daily entries somewhere else. Nonetheless I shall attempt to recreate the frustration, angst, drama, fun and enlightenment that happened during the beginning few days.
I do recall that one of the most awesome things to happen, was that I was finally able to go down into toe-stand, although I was a disco robot the first few times, I have progressed to a swinging, tilting concentrating clown, (as I try and smile to relieve some tension). I also made some progress with regards to my grip, (since my one arm is slightly longer than the other), I could wave at myself with my big toe from behind my calf while I was in eagle pose, (but I will have to give that one to being extremely sweaty that day). Some progress was also made in Locust pose, due to my wildly positive imagination, I was able to lift my left much higher than usual and it felt surreal.
What I was also having some issues with, was/is my ujjayi breathing. Sometimes I forget, sometimes I remember, but I mostly remember. You must also remember to ‘suck your belly in’, keep your shoulders away from your ears and ‘be’ present in the moment. I usually find it hard to ‘be’ present at any given time, as my mind is a mishmash of complicated goo!
And I think the other highlight, other than being able to go into toe-stand finally, is that Stu stood on me whilst I was in Fixed Firm pose and now I always imagine him standing on me when I am in this pose.
If I have forgotten anything, you are welcome to remind me.

Day 9: Flow with Vanya at 16h30

Firstly, I will need to say that I need to mentally prepare myself for Vanya’s class. I describe her as Spiderwoman on Crack. With the utmost respect of course. I only feel this way, as my first class with Vanya did not go as well as I had hoped it would. It went straight down into Child’s pose if I remember correctly, for most of that first V-class in fact. I think from now on I will call this a V-class, V for Vanya. V for Velocity. For that is what is going on with all the movement happening.
I am happy to announce that since that first V-class, I have progressed steadily from Child’s pose into Downward facing dog pose and I was able to actually do and keep up with most of the class. I will admit, that my legs felt like gigantic tree stumps and would not move as readily as I would have liked but I breathed and just went with it at my own pace. I will actually admit that I thoroughly enjoyed the class.
I think next time I do a V-class, I will not have to start prepping myself a week or two before hand.

Day 10: Bikram with Jen at 17h30

I was of course excited about this class as I am like super amped to be able to practice my toe-stand and to obviously gain some clarity and a side-plate of enlightenment. The class had a really good group energy, but my body was feeling a bit strained. I think it’s all the doubles I had been doing, but I just breathed and pushed through the class. Hmmm… Which is not always easy when my Chitta Vritti has a mind of its’ own it seems.
A side note: Yoga: Oneness, yoga. Chitta: mind. Vritti: wave, the action of rolling, modification, way of being. Nirodha: cessation.
From my understanding and google searches, I think that Chitta Vritti is the thoughts of the mind and when practicing yoga, you do not want your mind or thoughts to be wandering, (especially if its immature and thinks that playing in the traffic is a good idea). The ‘aim’ is to just ‘be’ in the posture, breath and ‘be’ in order to reap the benefits of yoga. That is just my opinion, but I am sure that any of the yoga instructors will be happy to enter a discussion on the matter.
I see my ramblings have slowly turned into some actual thoughts here. YOGA FTW!!!

Day 11: Flow with Justine at 08h30

Hmmmm…. Flow! The body strain started to show some physical signs of wear and tear. Unexplained bruises. And heavy gingerbread, tree stumps for legs and some rather odd lower back pain and neck/shoulder pain, but my soul was excited for class. So I decided that I would give my best effort and remember to breathe if I felt near exhaustion or death, which ever chose to appear first. Either way, I’ll end up in Dead man’s pose. Unless I am in Shoulder-stand, then things could get a bit awkward. I definitely felt a strain in Utkatasana pose. A sticky, wobbly strain. Not so much fun at all. I am remembering to breathe through it all, so at least I am remembering something.
I made it through the class okay, I think I must try and work on making sure all my fingers point in the right direction.

Day 12:
Part 1: Bikram with Marinus at 09h00
The body feels fine after I came home early the day before and crashed into my bed for the most of the evening, only awakening for food and water. It was an amazing class with Master M and all of his fans, lead by the fan-club president, Zahra.
I battled somewhat during the middle of the class, but I quite enjoyed doing Camel pose with my face facing the mirror, so I can see if I am actually pushing my chest upwards and that part is not just in my head. I was supposed to do a double class with Steven, but decided against it, to rest myself up for tomorrow.
Part 2: Flow with Jo at 11h00
Got forced into this class by Steven and Justine! Spent most of class in Child’s pose. Exhausted. And my brain hurt from trying to figure out what Jo instructed me to do. I would like to take this time to explain that Jo wanted to do Headstands, Handstands and some other complicated stuff, in that order and then ‘relax’.
No lady, my head will not go into a head stand! Neither will my hands! And the other complicated stuff got translated into Child’s pose. Although all was not lost! I mean I still had my sanity, or what was left of it, that is.
I had the pleasure of having my mat behind Justine’s so she could show me EXACTLY what I was supposed to be doing. Needless to say, everything was done so effortlessly. I was struck by awe and horror simultaneously, (the expression on my face was not a good one, nor was it comfortable). At least I have something to look forward to, once I graduate from Transitioning Beginner… into something more graceful and tranquil like Queen Justine.

Day 13:

Due to the rain on Sunday, I got hailed in. LOL
Sorry Steven, flying solo on your double. Hope it went well.

Day 14:

My official rest day I gave myself.
A rest so my body can recover from all the stretching and twisting and to give myself some time to reset my mind to a place of calm and positivity. Must just try to ‘be’

Day 15:

Not an official rest day for me, but I cannot make it to the studio due to some physical sickness that shall not be named. Will hopefully be up an about for Flow with Queen Justine tomorrow.

Day 16:

Yo Bikram with Paige at 13h00… So I returned to class after a 3-day absence and I felt a bit anxious, as my stomach was still not feeling too good, but I decided that I shall push on and revert to Child’s pose if I felt unsafe, (in my own body no doubt!).
I timidly took my time getting into the postures, all the time trying to remember to breath. It sounds silly, but sometimes I don’t remember to breath PROPERLY and then I end up huffing my way through the posture when I should be somewhat of a calm, serene goddess flowing into and out of every posture. I’m more gawdy than goddess at this point, but I have made some progress in locust pose. I finally rolled onto my shoulders and I could feel my body tilt, such that my legs and torso were lifting off the ground, while I kissed a sweaty towel. Awesome feeling, I tell ya’! Just awesome! Me thinks my body might actually know what’s going on there on that yoga mat.
I also had the luxury of having Paige come over and give my back a push down while I was in Ardha-Kurmasana, which is Half-tortoise pose. Don’t worry, I don’t actually know the names, I just google them. LOL! Anyway, Paige was helping me to lower my sit-bones onto my heels. I like saying sit-bones, it sounds so posh! So my back-into-the-action class wasn’t so bad, it was quite exciting. Thankfully I made it through the class so I deserve that purple sticker.

Day 17:

Bikram with Steve at 08h30… I almost did not make it to this class, as I was running towards the studio while Steve wiggled his index finger at me disapprovingly from the window. Initially I struggled to find my head space in class, but I soon settled down and decided to take the class posture by posture else I might lose my mind. This method actually works really well, must remember to make that part of my intention at the start of class.
Some light was also shed whilst in Eagle pose today, at first I thought that me being sweaty had something to do with me being able to wrap my foot behind my calf and wave my big toe at myself (Try it! It’s fun), but in actuality I was just a crazy loon who was obviously dehydrated. Being able to wrap my foot around my calf, has everything to do with ‘Sitting’.
Usually, I bend, swing my… er… swinging leg over my standing leg and then try and wrap my foot around my calf and then sit, but that just results in my body going…”You’re a retard!” and I slip out and fall onto the floor. My trick here is that I bend, swing, tuck the foot then SIT and then as you SIT further down, your foot wraps/tucks further to poke out behind the calf and the two of you are re-united again.
Further investigation was made whilst in Locust pose, with surprising results. There was no huffing or puffing, but rather good, happy feelings and even a smile, (that nobody saw, as my face was facing the floor). I think my body has finally gotten into the hang of things. The feeling is amazing, when you are wrestling with a posture and then one day, it just goes right. I got the hang of this posture, by first imagining my legs and torso lifting and now I imagine that I am a see-saw! So my hand are the triangle thingy in the middle, fingers facing the back wall and you push into the floor towards the back wall, while rolling onto your shoulders and lifting your legs and torso… Totally awesome! I deserve a cupcake! The actual posture doesn’t feel so good, the feeling in your head does though. Think of it as, the more awkward your feeling, the more ‘right’ it is. That is a horrible sentence, as well as explanation. Will attempt to remember to ask one of the instructors about it.

Day 18

Part 1: Flow with Justine at 08h30
This class was really fun. Queen Justine had us saluting and flowing before we even knew what hit us! Breathing heavily, we finally settled into some floor-work which proved to be quite challenging on my co-ordination.
I was lying on my back, with one foot in the air, (with a straight leg of course), and I was supposed to grab hold of my big toe and move my leg to one side, while I look the other way. All this while keeping my leg straight… I think not!
The most exciting part of the class was when I was able to go into Birds’ of Paradise pose. Holla!!! It felt so awesome, but wiggled and tilted the whole time while trying to stand up and then shook like a earthquake when I tried to extend my leg. It was really fun though and I was so proud of myself, for at least giving it a go this time.

Part 2: Yo Bikram with Marinus at 13h00
Nothing exceptional happened to me in this class, but I remember feeling a bit drained during the warm-up postures and therefore decided that it would best if I at least attempted the postures and continued to breathe properly. It was also a good chance for me to practice the postures I had been struggling with and see if anything had clicked for me. The class was very restorative and I felt so calm and light afterwards that I floated home.

Day 19:

I practiced Savasana while laying in bed.

Day 20:

Part 1: Flow (75 minutes) with Paige at 09h00
As expected, Flow with Paige was amazing! I especially enjoyed the breathing exercises that happened at the beginning of class. It was very soothing and I was amazed at the energy build-up I had created! There was lots and lots of ‘flowing’ in this class and it got me, amped for the rest of the day! The highlight of the class, was when Paige said that we were going to practice with the aid of sound effects! As you all know, I love and firmly believe in making a noise when trying postures, it makes it more fun!We would be trying sound effects while attempting Crow’s pose. You had to plant your hands firmly on your mat, do something with your arms/elbows/arms, (one of those,) such that your knees peeked out from the sides, then lean forward and put one bent leg onto your bent arms and then PING! lift the other leg so that your big toes touch… I PINGED! for a millisecond and then PONGED onto the floor onto my sit-bones! For that split millisecond I was so incredibly happy!
Part 2: Yo Bikram with Paige at 11h00
I was excited for the second class, for what I do not know, but I was and it went well, I at least think so. I really enjoy doing a double class, as it sometimes allows me to further my intention and I think that I don’t want my body/muscles to forget what it just learnt.
My double class team has grown steadily.  This Sunday it consisted of Steven, Flo, Robert and myself.  I think that everyone should try and do a double class in concession.
Hope everyone is feeling all right for the last 10 days! I know I am.

Day 21: Flow with Toni at 16h00

I came to class today with some apprehension as my body was feeling a bit sore, which is what one would expect, but I decided that I would push through any uncomfortable feelings and just try my best. I enjoyed the class and was so surprised to find that I could for once, remember the sequence while going with my own breathe. There was much movement in the class, as well as many reversals on the usual postures which I found to be quite exciting! I think the most challenging posture, was the reverse Birds’ of Paradise, which I subsequently was in Childs’ pose for, so I was able to take a look around to see what I was supposed to look like. Unlike Paige, who was able to go into this awkward twist effortlessly and as gracefully as a swan. I definitely think that is something I can work towards. Slowly  and with pockets full of patience, I bet!
I thoroughly enjoyed the part of the class, (besides lying in Savasana), where you had to stand with your feet shoulder width apart, bend slightly, fold over and then plant your hands next to your feet, such that the fingertips lined up with your toes. There was some stretch happening here, but I can’t remember where. Then we got to the fun bit, (sarcasm), where you place your hands through your legs and behind your heels, ‘cupping’ your heel between your thumb and index finger. I think we might have had to straighten our legs or maybe it was our arms, either way, it was pretty awkward but pretty funny at the same time. I couldn’t help but smile and laugh at my unsteadiness!
Breathing Ujjayi breathe is no joke, I tell you! I actually found myself thinking that it is actually quite hard to just inhale and exhale through my nose and it seems like the simplest of things. Turns out it can be quite awkward in certain poses! Then, towards the end of class I found myself enjoying the Ujjayi breathe and how it helped me to extend in the postures.

Day 22: Yo Bikram with Jen at 08h30

The body was feeling a bit strained, especially in the legs, this morning, but I decided to attempt every posture and breathe steadily throughout. I had such an amazing class this morning, I felt strong and I could feel my body more, ( I’m not too sure if that makes any sense). I especially like the moment when your go into part 2 of Awkward pose, where everyone lifts up there heels and there is this awesome stretched feeling as well as all the popping and creaking that happens.
Jen speaks so strongly and sincerely, whilst still sounding supportive that it really helps to understand what is happening in my body. I really appreciate the extra information she gives while in the postures, about the benefits and whatnot, as well as the mini adjustments she eases you into.
Lately, I have found that I find comfort in certain postures, that I never really thought too much about before, such as Half-tortoise and Rabbit. Before I used to push myself more in Standing Bow-Pulling pose and the like, but now I found such comfort and enjoyment in the more simpler postures, especially Rabbit, where I play a game with myself and see if I can curl so much that my nose touches my navel. No, it does not do that yet, but I do see a bit of progress and progress is better than nothing!

Day 23: Flow with Vanya at 16h30

The V-class started with my favourite pose, Child’s pose! We started off very slowly, with different stretches and twists which was quite warming and relaxing. I was quite chuffed with myself as I actually managed to keep up with the instructions in this V-class as well as continue with the sequence with my own breathe. The ironic part of the class came when Vanya mentions that we will be doing something that she calls the spiderman crawl. This coming from spiderwoman-on-crack! I was quite hesitant as to where this was going but it turned out to be rather lovely. So basically we started in Goddess squat, in the middle of the mat, facing the entrance, (and the opposite wall for the other side), then you straighten your one leg and lean towards the opposite leg while using your cupped fingertips for balance and you move from left to right tip-toeing your fingertips to the other side. Shifting your weight and straightening your opposite leg. We had to do this a couple of times on each side and it was quite a soothing, fun stretch. I had to however refrain from throwing in some wrist and web-shooting actions, complete with “Pew! Pew! Pew!” as Vanya was right next to me, demonstrating what we had to do. Maybe next time.

Day 24: Bikram with Marinus at 17h30

After having quite a heavy day, I was feeling a bit drained mentally and by the time 17h30 had rolled around, I was feeling a definite stiffness in your body. Especially in my legs, lower back and shoulders, I was hoping that the class would help to release some tension and help to settle my mind. So I decided to take it easy in class, attempt every posture, remember to breath and rest when I need to.
The class went well and I enjoyed it very much. One of the things I like about Marinus is that he counts up with his inhales and counts down on the exhale… And I just wait to hear him say, “Two,” as I know then it is not long to go. Another favourite variation is that, for the second set of Camel, he lets you face the back the back wall when you start, so then you end up being able to see yourself in the mirror, which I think is rather nice. It is such a strong posture that to be able to see yourself in the posture, just gives you this extra oomph! Your hard work and patience has paid off and you are able to see your body looking strong as well as the focus in your eyes. It’s quite a ‘thankful’ experience.
But alas, I was a bit stiff to enjoy some of my favourite postures and I opted to play it safe and not push too hard, considering where my body is right now in the challenge. I missed my beloved Toe-stand.
Marinus also mentioned that with this 30 Day Challenge, if we were experiencing any tension we should walk and do something else, that I forgot what he actually said – Sorry. Basically, listen to your body and allow it to rest appropriately.
PS. Steven was to do Vanya’s 19h30 class that evening and he did not show for it! Naughty, naughty boy!

Day 25:

I decided to take Marinus’ advice and I took myself on a walk around town, lingering in an array of Long Street shops and I even managed a quick visit and stroll around the Waterfront.

Day 26: Bikram with Tamara at 09h00

Steven and Cindy sitting on a bench, hopeful for a double on this Saturday. First Tamara, then it’s Jo. Tamara kicked our ass, so we didn’t do Flow! You’ll actually have to sing this so that it makes any sense… 🙂

Tamara is definitely straight to the Yoga Business! She has a great presence in her class, while being sincere and genuine to each person in the group. She helped to create a very vibrant group energy that I felt carried me through the class. One thing I hadn’t noticed while in the class, only afterwards, was that there was no music playing. Not that I minded as I felt quite content and focussed with my own thoughts.
One thing I am grateful to Tamara for is her advice she gave me a while back on my Locust pose. She told me not to worry about it, I must just be patient and not compromise the posture with ego. If all I can do is the foundation (hands flat beneath my knees, legs straight – glued together, lips pressed to my mat) and only lift a millimetre off the ground then that is good enough and with patience and practice, my body will figure out the rest. Which it is slowly starting to do Albeit with some help of sound effects…
She also encourages you to come earlier to the class, in order to talk to the instructor so that they can guide you through the correct movement for the first breathing exercise and to discuss and variations due to injury or the like.
Even though my mind was like, “Go!” And my body just said, “No!” I thoroughly enjoyed this class as it was filled with helpful corrections, backed by interesting information. Tamara definitely pushes you gently… Not that I could refuse;)

Day 27: Doubling with Paige

Part 1: Flow (75 minutes) at 09h00
We started the class with some Nauli breathing O.o Not that I knew what that was when she said it nor do I know now… You had to stand as if you were atop a horse, i.e sitting in a saddle. Inhale, then on an audible exhale, throw your upper body toward the floor. “Brace” yourself with your hands, tucked into the creases of your hip and maintain the exhale. Then slowly with a curved back, rolled yourself up with an inhale. I could only get the throwing myself to the floor bit, as that seemed most natural to me. The rest seemed to baffle me, so I just copied the girl next to me o.O Apparently there is supposed to be some belly rolling in the Nauli breathing, but we were not ready for that much advancement so early on a Sunday morning;)

We were suppose to do Monkey splits… I’m not even going to talk about it! o.O

We also had to try Headstand. I couldn’t, but I tried… I can maintain the foundation for Headstand, which is quite the achievement, considering a few days ago, my body just refused all together:) Although the foundation does make you pay a lot of attention to your breathing. My Shoulder-stand is coming along nicely, although the apparent lack of strength in my left side is becoming more visible:( Must enquire about this after the challenge. Towards the end of the class, we had to do Pigeon, which a bit of a favourite for me, but there was a slight variation in that we had to be Sleeping Pigeons. I was more of a dead pigeon. The minute my extended arm hit the floor with my head, so did my sit-bones… In the opposite direction! I could not even get myself to the correct pose, I had to roll over completely and sit up on my knees and start from downward facing dog to get into it again. Only to collapse all over again, and this happened on both sides o.O

Part 2: Yo Bikram at 11h00
I felt fine before the class, but in the warming up sequence, I felt so drained and started wondering how I was going to make it through the rest of the class! Then I decided to stop all the negative nonsense and just breathe through, posture by posture and I actually ended up having a really good class:)
I feel stronger in some postures, while downright hopeless in others, not to mention a strange soreness in my feet o.O I think a good foot massage should fix it! Any takers?!

Day 28: Bikram with Steve at 17h30

I was not looking forward to this class at all! My body was sore and tired and I just felt like lying in Savasana on the side of the road. Actually, pretty much anywhere looked good enough o.O So, Steven and myself decided that we would be less obvious yoga hope-less-ness-es at the back of the room, in the infamous hot-pocket or what I like to call, THE HOTspot:) That said and done, we actually managed to remain quite focussed throughout the class with some adjustments that strongly resembled Child’s pose, but I won’t go into that;)

What I felt really kept me motivated throughtout the class, was Steve’s constant mini-peptalks:) That consisted mainly of telling us that we were in fact all delusional with regards to the pain we were in and that we should just continue to breathe and move through the pain. I don’t know how ‘delusional’ any of you were, but I was pretty far gone that I even wanted to prescribe myself medication;)

At the end of class, Steven and I, High-5-ed! Then collapsed in Savasana, pondering how we were going to be able to get up and out of the room. Considering that I am sitting at a pc, typing this, I was able to physically move. Mentally… Who knows where I am.

Day 29

Since yesterday’s class was actually my 29th class, I have opted to rest today and I also want to finish the on the last day with all the other challenge participants.

Day 30: Flow with Toni at 08h30

It’s my very last class for the challenge and I came through the studio doors bubbling with excitement. Steven and Toni were also in high spirits:) Toni gave us some adjustments before class to facilitate our lower back pain.

The class started off with “Breath of Joy,” for those of you who know what this is, please explain and demonstrate s-l-o-w-l-y.
From what I can remember, I felt more confusion than joy, that was at the beginning, but towards the end it turned out to be quite fun:) Okay, so feet are hip width apart. It is a 3-part inhale and 1 mega-exhale.
Inhale 1 (Hah): Cross arms in front of you like a conductor.
Inhale 2 (Hah): Extend arms outwards (maybe curving your back o.O)
Inhale 3 (Hah): Extend arms upwards with a curved back, puffing your chest out.
Exhale (AaahHah):Throw your upper body to the floor… the only part that I got right!
This happens really fast, like a dog panting…. Hah-Hah-Hah-AaahHah! Now picture a full studio… It was just arms in the air and then the exhale breath, all over the place! It was really fun though and many of us, me, had a good giggle;)

The rest of the sequence was quite soothing and I again managed to remember it all by myself;) Yay! Cindy-Lee FTW!

See y’all later at the Celebration!

Many thanks to YoYoga and Cindy for sharing this story with us.
2 Comments leave one →
  1. Elton permalink
    December 12, 2011 7:38 am

    I remember my 30 day challenge. It was crazy but addictive. I tried 30 classes in 30 days and doubled up opting for power yoga and vinyasa. At the end of it all I was rather strained as I had pushed myself as is the case with most A type personalities. All in all I will definitely do it again.Challenge: Fitting the classes into my schedule was more of a challenge, also being lean and losing a lot of weight made me realise that I definitely was doing more intense yoga than I should have! My body craves yoga when I don’t practice, this I know as I am on yoga-cation till 2012.

    • December 15, 2011 9:38 am

      Great, thanks for sharing your experience and challenge with us and our readers 🙂 Enjoy your yoga-cation

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