The Ultimate Yogi Rescued Me From Impostor Syndrome

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:

The Pros:

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.

The Cons:

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.

Reading The Brothers Karamazov (and other grinds)

I have been struggling with The Bros K. but today, today I may have broken through.

Things started to shift in Part 1, Book 3 for me.

I couldn’t get past the whining and the histrionics of the beginning chapters, not to mention all the impossible-to-keep-track-of Russian names. When I can’t hear a name in my mind, but have to rely on just the graphical pattern of letters, I get lost.

I went to book group having slogged through just about 100 pages, and hoped the others who had read farther could assure me that there was light and ease and joy coming in the future.

That didn’t really happen, but I was inspired to keep slogging, just because.

Because it was Dostoevsky.

Because it was a classic.

Because I’ve read longer and more turgid books and god dammit I would read the Bros K. Even if it killed me. And if Linda R could do it, so could I.

It seems like so many things I’m doing these days are like this: grinds.

The Yoga Challenge, The Ultimate Yogi, the Bros K.

But when I got home from book group, bound and determined, I experimented with reading some of it out loud, hoping I could tune my ear to it, hoping I could find a way in.

And it worked! And I did! I started laughing because the way his characters narrate their lives sounds so much like modern conversations. These language patterns sounded so natural, I could hear myself talking exactly this way.

Is this the wonder of this particular translation?

I don’t know, but I am happily reading the Bros K. now, and really digging it.

Today was Day 27 of the Ultimate Yogi. Only 81 more days to go. I decided to just do the damn thing. No expectations. I don’t have to like it, I just have to do it.

But the last few days, I’ve been getting into it.

The Strength sequence is still a problem. Even when I think I’m doing okay and hanging in there, there it comes: that long hold in plank with alternate knees at the biceps. When that part comes, it’s nothing but oh fuck, oh god.

So hard.

All the other sequences I pretty much cruise through without a lot of suffering.

I’m starting to tire of his stories, though: the elephant sculpture one, and Hollow Bone.

 Enough.

Note to Self: Kath, if you ever put a program or video online and you want it to stay evergreen?

Don’t talk too much. 

Don’t tell stories. 

Just instruct the yoga and the breathing with as few words as possible, no jokes. 

Never make a joke. Because in all the world there is nothing staler than a joke on video. Especially on a video you want people to watch every day, or at least somewhat frequently.

The Yoga Challenge is 17 days in as of today, and though it’s going okay, there’s not the commitment that there was in the past. No, I shouldn’t say that. There’s the commitment, but things keep happening. Like Jury Duty happened to one person, and a medical problem flared for another one.

I don’t think there are too many people who can do something like this without a miss. Some things like jury duty can’t be helped. Some things like heart issues flaring, can’t be predicted, some things like college graduations can’t be missed. I get it, I do, but still.

So this will be it. I will really work hard to put it online next year. That way more people can do it. It’s not the daily yoga that’s the problem or the challenge, it’s the coming to class. So online might be the answer, I think.

The season is unlocking. Grass is greening, daffodil foliage is breaking through. I’m enjoying my long walks at the Hike and Bike with Stella everyday. That time spent with her is becoming an important and wonderful part of my day. She’s really a great little dog.

It’s feels good not to grind so much and just enjoy: the yoga, the reading, the season. Hallelujah.

I Hate That Progress Takes Time

I hate that things take time.

Not things. Progress.

I hate that progress takes time.

Especially the visible, tangible signs of progress. That’s what I really hate. 

I feel so impatient. I want a sign: something, anything, that will encourage me to keep going. 

I am attached to outcomes. I am a very bad yogi and a very bad Buddhist. 

In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna tells Arjuna that he must not fight to win the battle. No.

Arjuna must fight because it’s his dharma. He must fight because it’s his nature as a warrior to fight. 

So here’s what I’m telling myself these days: 

Put your head down, Kath, and grind.

So what if you’re not any stronger.

So what if you’re not any lighter.

So what if you’re measurements are still the same. 

So what if you’re a little sore. And tired. And grouchy. And your words aren’t getting written everyday and you don’t have time to cook, or even shop regularly. 

It’s only been 2 weeks of this Ultimate Yogi thing. What did you expect?

Answer?

 I expected more than nothing. I expected a little something. Some small little something. 

And why?

 Because it’s been TWO WHOLE WEEKS.

Every dieter I’ve ever known has had to fight this battle. Every person who has trained for a marathon has had to fight this battle. Every person who has committed to writing a dissertation, or tried to quit smoking, or any other addiction, knows what I’m talking about here. 

It’s a daily slog. A daily recommitment without any seeming progress. 

It’s the daily sky-gaze where you beg for a sign, for something, anything that will reassure you that, yes, it will all be worth it in the end.

(I feel like I’m getting melodramatic here, but everybody knows this at some level.)

So I really do have to find a way to just unattach from outcomes. To just do the thing for its own sake. 

And trust. 

Or not trust. Just keep going.