The other day I watched a disturbing video on Facebook. It was about two teen kids who take their mother for granted their whole lives, then stand at her grave at the end, learning too late all of the sacrifices she made for them.
The message was clearly: Don’t take your mother for granted.
But the whole time I was watching this long-suffering mother get shat upon by her bratty kids, the more I wanted to smack her.
Not the kids, her. (Well, yes, the kids too, but mostly her.)
Why is she putting up with this? Why is she enabling this behavior? Why doesn’t she say: “Yo ingrates, put down your goddamn phones and listen to me.”
Why is she allowing herself to be treated so shabbily? Why doesn’t she call them out, school them in empathy, and compassion for her, and by extension all people? Why is she letting these brats get away with this shit?
Isn’t it her job as a parent to teach these lessons?
It was hard to watch. Are there really parents who let their children get away with abusing them? I don’t think any parents I know would stand for that.
So why is this video all over FB with thousands of shares?
Ostensibly, it was aimed to jolt kids awake. To tell them, “Hey wake up before it’s too late and your mother is dead and all you’re left with is this heavy ball of regret you’ll have to shoulder forever.”
But if I could reshoot this video, I’d show the mother commandeering the phones, sitting down and telling these kids that she’s their mother, not their slave. I see them then pitching in, helping out, beginning to understand how it feels to walk in their mother’s shoes.
I’d keep the graveyard scene, but standing next to it would be two adult children who are sad, but better people for having her as a mother. Not those two sniveling pieces of wreckage in the video, who may or may not ever learn how to fix themselves.
My 108th day of the Ultimate Yogi falls on July 6th. Today I decided when I get up on July 7th, I’m starting over.
I can’t believe I’m saying this.
I’ve done nothing but whine since Day 1 that this program takes too much time.
It takes one whole hour a day.
But on Hard Core days, you have to tack on another half hour.
Then, every day, there is also a 10, 20 or 30 minute meditation added to that.
So by the end, there are days when I’m in my yoga room for a good 2+ hours. Who has time for that??
Not most people. For most people, it’s simply not sustainable. Far better to commit to something doable, like a nice 20 minute practice every day and just be consistent.
Consistency is really the whole game anyway.
But for me, it’s different. That’s because I teach yoga. And when you teach, you really have to practice or you feel like a fraud.
I do, at least.
I’ve had times when I’ve let my personal practice slide, and I’ll be okay for a little while, but if too many days or weeks or god forbid months of no-practice go by, I get impostor syndrome really bad.
I feel out of integrity, and that, for me, is the worst. I lose confidence in the teaching room, I feel tentative, weak, stale. I hate feeling that way more than anything.
I’m only truly happy when I’m moving closer to being my aspirational self. And teaching and not practicing feels the same as lying to me.
When I decided to do this UY Challenge it was 10 days before the annual April Yoga Challenge at my studio. Since I couldn’t join my own Yoga Challenge, I took on this UY one as my personal April, May and June Yoga Challenge. I did it to find out what the hell was going on with me and yoga. Why was I resisting the mat so much? I was going to to give myself this 108 Days to ask this question. Yeah, it was going to be hard, especially logistically, but who’s the pro here?
Go big or go home.
On Day 50, I sincerely wanted to quit. Nothing was getting any easier. I felt no better or stronger or anything. So I gave up the hope of achieving any physical benefits, like the promised high levels of strength and flexibility. From here on out it it was just going to be a long slog to Day 108. Out of pure stubbornness. I would get to Day 108 by hell or high water. But after that, done.
Going forward, practicing 20 minutes a day, consistently, would be just fine.
But then Day 60 happened.
I noticed on Day 60 the 5 Yogi-Style push-ups were getting easier.
I noticed on Day 60 I wasn’t saying “fuck” under my breath as much.
I noticed on Day 60 that it really did take a whole hour to break me open to the point where the yoga “medicine” could penetrate.
I noticed on Day 60 that nothing short of an hour would get me to the puddle zone, what Mary Oliver describes as “that porous line where my own body was done with” and the outside world began.
Now it’s Day 75. I don’t feel like a hypocrite or a fraud anymore in the teaching room. I feel stronger in my body, too, but not only that, all the bandwidth in my brain, formally occupied with feeling ashamed and shitty, is now freed up to focus on what I’m doing in the teaching room.
I feel more relaxed. I know I don’t have to be perfect. My own mat practice that day has shown me that, mostly by humbling me, but also for giving me time to reflect. To experiment.
When I practice UY it’s mostly for myself, but I also practice like a teacher. I can’t help it. I’m constantly wondering: How would/could I describe this feeling/headspace? What word or image captures best what this experience is like?
On Day 75 I feel like I’m walking my talk. I feel in integrity. And all it took was an hour a day on my mat.
Very high ROI.
So here, in case you’re thinking of doing this program, is my review of Travis Elliot’s The Ultimate Yogi:
1. It’s a program. 108 Days. “Less than a season.” I like having a defined ending date.
2. It has a nice variety of classes. Strength, Balance, Vitality, Yin, etc
3. The sequences are really good, well thought-out, sane, effective.
4. Travis isn’t weird or obnoxious. Sometimes his stories and rants get a little repetitive, and his word choice and pronunciation is a tad off and even a little bizarre: “Open up both of your eyes.” (Uh, they kinda open up together by default, Travis.) But he means well.
1. It’s a big time commitment. If you have a lot of obligations or travel a lot, this won’t work.
2. It’s not for Beginners. It’s medium-to-hard in terms of yoga levels.
3. It’s not good if you are nursing injuries or dealing with anything chronic. You have to be in relatively good health to do it.
But if you’ve let your practice get stale, or need a jump start or a strong reset, this is great.
If you’ve plateaued or want to power-up to the next level, this is the ticket.
If you’re overdue for a megaboost self-confidence and self-respect, completing these logistically as well as physically hard 108 Days will restore that, no question.
So for me it’s just onward. I trust I’ll know when I’ve sucked all the juice I can get out of this program. But until then, as Travis says, “It’s just another day on planet Earth.” Another day of The Ultimate Yogi.