My first ever experience with Yoga came when I got to Florida before my first ever pro baseball season My mom had given one of those Byron Baptist yoga DVD’s with a mat and some blocks and said I should give it a try. So, one afternoon, in the little empty college townhouse room that I was crashing on before Spring training started, I slipped the DVD into my computer ad gave it a try. First impression: this is stupid. It was boring, way to fru-fru and spiritual for me I felt, especially with those damn cross-legged “om” chants at the end. So, I slipped the DVD’s into the bottom of my bag and went about my life.
A good 5 years later, baseball was over, and I had dedicated my time to training for my first marathon. Now, as an avid runner that this point, I was becoming quickly aware of the stigma of runners, tight as hell! So, I wanted to find a way to keep my flexibility and mobility even while looking ridiculous miles each and every week. So, I began doing a little research to maybe join a yoga class near by. I tried a couple places, and while I felt better than my DVD yoga trial, I still didn’t feel any sort of connection to the whole process. I honestly felt that all I needed to do was commit to stretching for a good 15-20 minutes after each workout I had and I would get all the same benefits. Still, I could not really find a logical argument against the millions of people worldwide who so passionately practiced yoga. The history of it, the greater benefits of it, not just increased flexibility and mobility, but strength both outwardly and inwardly. If so many people could feel so great about it, I wanted to feel great about it too!
I finally found a cool little place that practiced a form of yoga called Ashtanga. What attracted me to the place was it offered classes at a time that worked really well for me, the instructor for those times was an avid ultra runner, and Ashtanga, from what I could understand, was a pretty “strong” style of yoga. Very quickly I found out what all the hype was about! I hit a sort of “zone” within my second class and I just focused in on each and every movement and pose, trying to connect my breathing with each movement and trying to sink further and further into each pose. I was by no means “good” at yoga (what I mean by this is that I couldn’t even come close to finding the positions most of the other practitioners were finding), but the positive support by the instructor kept me going. This helped me realize that being “good” at yoga simply means you understand how to practice in the moment. It means you’re not crazy restless, looking around, thinking about random other things and so on. The second you are able to just exist for each breath, movement and pose, you become a yogi, and that’s what all the fuss is about!
I practice Ashtanga for about 6 months, twice a week without fail. Then, once my marathoning took a turn for the crazy (doing one every month, and doing that damn 50-miler), I just sort of stopped going. Until now. I have thought about returning for a couple years, I even took a class here and there at other locations, just never found that groove again. But now, I am about a month into the same class schedule I have almost 3 years ago and I am really feeling all the positive effects yoga has to offer.
Now, I realize that everyone’s practice means something different to each person. And this of course, is what I like so much about it all. But what I personally like is that I have an organized time slot where I can focus my mind and body in on the same thing. Each time I go in I am asked to push my mobility and strength to new limits, all while straying inward and focused. It is hard work but is SO rewarding each and every minute! I normally don’t like repetitive, redundant things, they tend to bore me; but for some reason, the amount of focus I put into all of this allows each movement to feel totally different each time. It’s a pretty cool experience.
So, if you are a yoga practitioner, keep up the good work (and make sure it’s not the ONLY thing you doing for fitness!). If you are not, if you’ve tried it and don’t like it, or if you’ve never tried it at all, take a new approach and give a fair chance. I would generally make a pretty confident assumption that if you don’t like it, it probably has less to do with the yoga, and more to do with your inability to focus. Take the time to find an instructor you have confidence in, and a space you feel comfortable in, and then begin to focus on YOU!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
Holy crap am I psychologically crushed. The first workout for the CrossFit Games Open Sectionals was announced last week, and after thinking through it all, I decided I should realistically achieve somewhere in the 8 round range. I prepared my workouts, get myself mentally there, and walked in Saturday feeling mostly ready. I say that I felt “mostly” ready because I was coming of limited sleep thanks to a 4 hour bus ride, then a 6 hour plane ride the day before. Because of that, my fueling process was a little off (totally my fault with not being prepared on the plane ride). I then walked in Saturday with only a banana and a soy latte in my stomach and I am sure that affected me at least a little. This is by no means an excuse, I gave it my all for what I had that day, 7 rounds, 30 double unders and 9 overheads, I am just SO convinced I have more in me!
I had a strategy to it too. I would go with power snatches until just before I felt I needed to dumb the bar, then I would move to clean and jerks and opt for slower movements, but less breaks. In the end, I broke up those overheads a bit more than I expected (all double unders went unbroken), and that led to the score above.
With the additional week, I planned out my workout schedule to get in a second attempt. That attempt would be workout #1 today (I would get heavy back squats then track work later on). Well, it was all planned out perfectly, Brendon (head coach at CrossFit San Mateo) would be there, and then I had two others willing to come in as well. I would have a support crew big enough to get me fired up and I was feeling very confident as of last night. But, early this morning I got a text letting me know that Brendon’s daughter was really under the weather and he wouldn’t be able to make it in. Another coach at CFSM, Tuan, couldn’t make it in either. I was left with a collection of options here: do the workout with just the support of one member of CFSM, or wait and do the workout another day with a massive support crew!
My eagerness prevailed on this one and I opted to just get the workout in. Geeze, it’s crazy, even as I write this I am getting more and more frustrated at myself for making this choice. I mean, how hard would it have been to just tweak my programming and do it Thursday, Friday, or even Saturday? Why did I have to be so hotheaded and stick to something that really had no good reason to be followed? No clue people, just that sometimes the mind can get so caught up in an idea that it’s impossible to get out of it, no matter how illogical it might actually be.
I felt good going into it, but my transitions were slow. I stuck with power snatches for all the rounds and was able to go unbroken for 4 rounds, then got 10 before breaking on the 5th round. I tripped up my double unders a couple times, but I wasn’t very worried about that. But I realized that when I messed up, or when I was moving between exercises, I was taking up WAY too much time. When Praveen (my support for the workout) announced I had 2 minutes left is where I lost my focus completely. I was struggling through the end of the 6th round and I knew I would not be able to get two more rounds in in those two minutes. I psyched myself out and my energy level just crashed. I finished with 7 rounds and 4 double unders.
All the signs led me to not doing the damn workout today, but I forced my way through and learned my lesson. I have written on many occasions about listening to your body and mind when working out and pushing when pushing is necessary. But this was something else; I personally felt ready physically, but things were not aligned. I was not listening to the world around me. I was dissociating myself from the world, and that is just as bad as dissociating yourself with your own mind. I think we have a damn close energetic connection with the world around us and that connection plays a huge roll in how we function n a day-to-day basis. It may be an extreme example, but if there’s a blizzard outside, your car won’t start on 4 attempts, there’s a broken down car blocking your driveway and the store you want to go to is closed; perhaps you should NOT attempt to drive to that store. Everything was telling me to wait a little and do this workout another day, but I refused to listen, and I paid the price. Luckily I did not get hurt, that’s for sure!
So for the million-dollar question! Am I satisfied with 20th place in my region (as of now that’s where I stand), or do I re-work my programming and go for that 8+ round goal at the end of the week?
Never Stop, GET FIT.