Tomorrow’s a moon day, so I can stay up late to write this blog post (woo-hoo!)

I’m pretty excited that tomorrow’s a moon day, because it means two things:

  • I can turn off the earliest alarm setting on my iPhone.
  • I can stay up late to write this blog post.

This is how it used to be — I’d start writing a post a little after 11 p.m., as the Daily Show and the Colbert Report aired. Depending on how many interruptions I had, I might finish around midnight or sometimes as late as 1 or 2 a.m.

Then, this past August, I committed to a six-day-a-week Ashtanga yoga practice. Since I’m
solidly six months in, I thought I’d provide an update. Let me emphasize that no one is more surprised by what I’m about to report than I am. I’m sharing this in order to encourage you to try the traditional Ashtanga practice schedule if you’ve ever had the inclination — because it’s pretty powerful stuff. And along the lines of an “If I can do it, anyone can” argument, I have to note that I’ve kept up this schedule despite:

  • Not being a morning person
  • The cold and dark of Michigan’s winter
  • A pretty intense work schedule . . .
  •  . . . combined with teaching, currently, four yoga classes a week . . .
  • . . . while also trying to keep up this blog . . .
  • . . . and creating a wedding website and starting a wedding blog.
  • Oh, yes, the wedding. I’ve kept this up despite planning a wedding. (Don’t even get me started on that. I’m not wedding-planner material — far from it. Suffice it to say that there’s not a single thing about trying to pull a wedding together that comes naturally to me.)
  • Looking for a house to buy.

Insert your own reasons for not having the time.

Let’s take a look at the things I said I missed most when I traded in a studio-based practice for a home-based practice. Here’s what I identified in my Nov. 14, 2011 post:

As I type this post from a hotel room bed, I’m thinking about when I’ll get my practice in each day of this hectic week. And as I think about that, I find myself daydreaming about my ideal practicing conditions:

  • Room temperature around 84 or 85 degrees
  • A time slot of two hours to practice
  • Start time around 1 p.m.
  • A clean, bright studio with large windows — a skylight, even.
  • Hardwood floors

Laughable, right? I have these conditions on precisely zero days a week — and when I’m traveling for work, as I am now, or working particularly long days, or on vacation, it gets even trickier. Who lives in their ideal world, anyway?

So . . . here’s the deal now.

I’m not attached to having a heated space for practice.

While I still prefer to practice in a room heated to at least 75 degrees (and I still love a room that’s around 85 degrees), I don’t long for it. Sometimes I practice in the multipurpose room of the air-conditioned athletic club where I teach twice a week. And the thing is — I don’t mind (?!). I keep a light, long-sleeved top over my yoga tank and I rev up that ujjayi breath. I feel warm enough. I sometimes even sweat, but sweat is no longer a barometer for how cathartic a practice is.

It doesn’t really matter how much room I have. 

It used to really bother me if I practiced in a cleared-off space surrounded by clutter. My apartment is so small that practicing among stuff is inevitable. I don’t mind anymore, however. As long as I have enough room for my mat, it’ll work.

I get up early to practice. Period.

This is perhaps the single most shocking development. When the alarm goes off, I still sometimes hit the snooze button. But I inevitably get up to roll out my mat. I don’t make calculations about whether I could squeeze in a practice that evening, which would give me cover to go back to bed. I get up, and I practice. That’s it. That doesn’t mean there aren’t days when my work day starts so early I have to move with my practice time — but those days are the exception rather than the rule.

==========

I was worried, as winter set in, that the chill would deter me. I somehow made it through. On that point, many thanks to Angela Jamison for all her encouragement and advice — and for holding me accountable (even while thousands of miles away in Mysore!) to staying with this.

Here are some specifics that helped me.

Hot showers

On really cold days, or on days when I really felt I couldn’t wake up, I took the advice mentioned in the AY: A2 blog to take a hot shower before practice. Worked like a charm whenever I felt I had to resort to it.

Remote heater starter (not really)

On days when I was so tired I didn’t know what I would do, I did hit the snooze button and let myself sleep in a little bit. But before I did that, I got up long enough to plug in the space heater in the living room. So I snoozed while the room heated up, which gave me motivation to get up. I’m not going to lie — if they had the space heater equivalent of a remote car starter, I’d be tempted to buy one.

Avoiding dehydration

In addition to the fact that I don’t like mornings, a big deterrent to practicing immediately after waking up has been that I always wake up feeling parched. So I made a point to drink more water throughout the day. I also started to drink a glass of coconut water right before I went to bed, and a glass of coconut water as soon as I got up. It really helped me avoid that awful feeling of trying to start a practice feeling completely dehydrated.

Sleeping earlier 

This was hard for me. I’ve been a night owl since my elementary school days. Sleeping early runs counter to all my instincts. Initially it was a matter of forcing myself, but eventually, I realized logic sometimes does prevail — you really do get tired earlier if you get up earlier to practice. So I’ve been sleeping earlier — so early that sometimes, I even miss the Daily Show and the Colbert Report.

Letting go of the concept of practicing yoga to x, y or z

Many of us go to yoga when we are down and need a boost. Or we go to yoga when we’re stressed. Or we go to yoga to try to lose weight. Or to become more flexible. Or to get through an emotionally-trying time. With this practice, it felt at first like I was practicing despite x, y or z — despite having a cold. Despite facing a 12-hour day. Despite really, really — really! — not feeling like practicing. Eventually, when practice is not optional it makes sense that this practice is a matter of hygiene — you wouldn’t go a week without brushing your teeth or showering. Why would you go a week without practicing? Our internal organs and our scattered minds benefit immensely from the daily chance to be wrung out, aired out and refreshed.

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The changes I’ve felt have been subtle but powerful. Some are deeply personal. In general, I can say I feel more connected to my internal machinations (which probably led to my sudden inability to tolerate chicken). It may sound odd, but I feel as if I have a more refined sense of smell. I feel more focused throughout the day.

This is only six months in, so we’ll see where this six-day-a-week practice continues to take me.

In any case . . . while tomorrow’s a moon day, it’s still a work day. So I’m signing off for now.

P.S. — It’s way after midnight, which is when I had hoped to be in bed. So moon day is now technically today — still, woo-hoo!. :-)

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11 thoughts on “Tomorrow’s a moon day, so I can stay up late to write this blog post (woo-hoo!)

  1. Thanks for sharing – many of your initial objections are things that have been holding me back: space, heat, mornings, etc. Maybe some day…

    • It took me a solid . . . oh, I don’t know, maybe five years, maybe more? of wanting to find this six-day-a-week practice before I finally made the circumstances happen. So it’s never too late, Brian!

    • Deborah — I just saw on your new blog post that you are still sick right now, so first off, I hope you feel better soon!

      The whole sick thing is a great question. I have a long answer to that. After I returned in early January from my trip abroad, I was down for the count for about a week. It was that awful, nasty kind of virus that you can’t do anything about except sleep through and drink lots of liquid all day long. Had I had to practice through that, I am sure I would not have been able to live up to my intentions because even sitting up was not happening during that time. Incredibly, however, all the days worked out. My being sick coincided with the following: ladies’ holiday, the Saturday rest day and a moon day.

      Since then, I have had a cold and sinus issues. I intuitively felt for these conditions that I could and should practice, so I did. And I was pleasantly surprised that after surya namaskara A, my congestion totally cleared up. It was night and day — a great reminder of the power not only of ujjayi breathing, but of the effects of down dog.

      I’m not someone who only rarely gets sick, so I am sure I’ll be confronted with other ailment challenges sooner rather than later. My teacher will soon be back from her three-month stay in Mysore, and the next time I see her, I’ll ask her how she recommends handling illnesses like viral infections, fevers and whatnot — conditions that simply aren’t conducive to practice.

  2. I have been enjoying the discipline of my home practice, though I have had to shift the times on occassion to make it work…Though not an official ashtangi–I am still waiting for that personae to appear! :) –I have found that the consistency of my practice is full of quality and has it helped me deepen in.
    It is easy to find it here–The temperatures are in the 80’s and there are fresh coconuts around, ready to crack open to quench one’s thirst. Life is very present! The real challenge will come when I retun to the ice, snow and gray winter of Michigan. That won’t happpen for awhile, so I might as well enjoy!

    Hakuna matata!

  3. Pingback: Ah, sweet Moon Day. And they just keep getting sweeter « The Confluence Countdown

  4. Stumbling onto this site has been such a gift! I completely relate to the things that were holding you back from a daily practice. I used to really be angry at myself for not practicing daily but now- for whatever reason – I’m able to soothe myself like I would a disappointed child on those days I don’t practice. Right now I don’t practice more days than I do but I feel the tide turning there. The closest Ashtanga teachers are over an hour away but I have a solid foundation from my former teachers in Hawaii. Anyway, I hardly ever comment on people’s blogs but, long story short, THANK YOU for your practice and encouragement.

    • That’s great that you have a solid foundation from your former teachers. I also used to live far from Ashtanga teachers, and what I found at the time is that the inspiration and the insights I gained from traveling to attend weekend workshops now and then were invaluable, especially to get me through those long dry spells of practicing (or at least trying to find time to practice) at home.

      I am remembering a panel at the Ashtanga Yoga Confluence where Nancy Gilgoff said that she has maintained a six-day-a-week practice despite her travel schedule. But she noted that on certain days, practice might be 15 minutes. So there’s that too. Whatever time you’ve got, you’ve got! Even if it’s 15 minutes, that intention you set and that connection of the breath and movement is so lovely.

      In any case, thank you for leaving this comment, Jenny. It means a lot to me. I don’t know where you live, but I’ll cheer on you and your practice from here in Michigan. :-)

  5. Thank you so much for this amazing post, Rose! I remember reading your post on your ideal practice environment, and it seems like it was just a few weeks ago…I’ve been struggling so much with establishing a routine individual practise lately, I find this really inspiring! Not being a morning person, cold mornings, frequent mild illness, and of course 1,001 reasons for being “too busy”…so much resonated with me! Thank you so much for sharing your experiencesa and insights! It really has been so amazing to read: thank you!

    FYI, I bought a cheap space heater at K-Mart last winter that has a remote control…so as close to a remote heater as possible, right?! If it works from your bed, it could be perfect! Maybe something to consider in all that house-hunting…? :) Thanks so much, and Namaste

    • Thank you for letting me know that this has been a positive post! It seems like just a few weeks ago I used to be able to take class with you here. :-)

      Good luck with getting that routine individual practice. It was not a linear process for me, so my last piece of advice is to not get frustrated if it’s two steps forward, three steps back. Eventually, it will happen, and once it happens, the momentum will keep you on the straight and narrow as far as practice is concerned.

      That is a genius idea with the remote starter! I will have to start adding that to my recommendations to students.

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