Tuesday, December 15, 2015

On 100 days of crowing

100 days ago, I was doing a yoga session, a brief 30 minute practice, with a youtube video from Adriene. In her video, she said that even if she only practiced mountain pose each day for 100 days, she would feel amazing. I thought I would attempt a pose every day for 100 days and see what happened. I chose crow because it was a pose that I could do (most of the time), but struggled with. My goal in 2015 was to be able to handstand/headstand, but I'm not there yet, so working on this arm balance seemed like a good idea. I also liked the idea of doing something that made me happy for 100 days.

Here is what I've learned/gained from this journey:

I've been to the mat every day since I started, whether for 5 minutes or for 50. This is amazing. While I am no accomplished yogi, I feel yoga in my soul. But I've never before had this kind of consistency in my practice. It is beautiful. And really, this challenge to myself has kept me accountable to that. Sure, it helped that I knew you were watching, rooting me on. But in the end, it was my own soul that wanted to be consistent. In my education classes, I teach that intrinsic motivation is more powerful than extrinsic. This is true in learning math or practicing yoga.

I am strong.  My core strength has improved.  My arm strength has improved.  My leg strength has improved. After I finished my PhD program, lots of people asked me what I was going to do with my free time. I responded that I wanted to get strong. I've played a bit with my pull-up bar. I've bought a 12 pound medicine ball. But nothing has improved my strength like crow. Now that I know I am strong, I want to be a superhero. I can do anything. I can fly! Of course I can, I can crow!

My balance has improved.At the beginning, I was able to hold the pose for only a few seconds, now I can hold it for at least a minute.  I understand dristé better. By sliding my gaze focus forward, my body naturally assumes balance. Not just in crowpose, though. While attending a yoga workshop last week, I noticed that my warriors were better balanced, my lunges smooth. 

Because I now have a better grasp of dristé, I'm now working towards more funky crow variations: the flying crow, one-legged, EPk2.... it's exciting to challenge myself, and while I get frustrated when I can't do it, I know that I am strong, and I can balance. So, I just need to keep trying. Every day.

I've gotten creative with my pictures. You may not know this, but I take most of my own pictures. I have a 10 second timer on my tablet, so I set it, then hustle into position. There have been lots of dog-butt outtakes! But I also have developed a more discerning eye for my pictures. There's better lighting outside. I like color. And I've gotten into looking around and asking myself "Can I crow on that?"

Speaking of dog-butts, the dogs have LOVED this practice. All the critters like yoga, they think it it playtime. But they love that I'm down everyday. Lily likes to check out my hands, she's sure I'm staring at something good to eat on the ground. (Which may be true, she's a beagle. To her, everything on the ground is good to eat.) Copper thinks that anytime I have my face near the ground I must need 100 kisses, and she takes her quotas very seriously. Jack is a big fan of my yoga mat. And he's a pro at both up and down dog poses.

Doing this for 100 days, I know I have become a better yoga practitioner. But I won't stop now. 
Don't worry.

Here's my progress. Taking pictures every day has really helped me to notice my improvements. Look at that! After 50 days, my feet were much higher off the ground. By 100 days, my back is straighter and my butt is way up there! Just imagine how great my crow could be if I KEEP practicing it!

Several people have asked "What now?" What will I be doing now that I've done 100 crows? Well, here's what I'm thinking... 

First of all, I want to encourage all of you to crow with me today. If you're not there yet, practice!
Secondly, I will be finishing out 2015 with more crows. So it won't just be 100 days of crow. It'll be 116 days of crow! Whoo!
I'm going to next be working towards more funky crows and arm balances.

Starting Jan 1, I'm going to begin my journey to inversions. I want to headstand,  handstand, scorpion, pincha. So, my daily pics will be a little more varied. But my goal will be to hit the mat every day in 2016.

Or my driveway. Or the trail. Or some weird rock that calls to me. Because I can crow anywhere!

Happy Crowing, Friends!

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