31 days of Yoga

I find myself saying "If you would have told me ______ 5-7 years ago, I never would have believed you" a lot these days. This leads me to 2 conclusions:
  1. I thought I knew a lot more than I did as an 18 year old.
  2. It's a good idea to look at the future with an open perspective
This month of yoga happens to be one of those instances. (For the record I, not Nicole, suggested we add yoga to our list of challenges.) As an 18 year old male, I could not have presented one conceivable reason I would willingly participate in yoga. (Case in point: take a minute and look at a google images: yoga, how many men did you count in the first 100 pictures? My count is zero). Now at 25 I pulled my wife into 31 consecutive days of the nonsense and (the strangest part) am planning to continue. Why? I owe it all to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. 

Look at that shoulder range of motion! No wonder his sky hook was so deadly.
Quick NBA history lesson before we get back to yoga: 
Kareem played in the NBA as a center for (primarily) the Los Angeles Lakers. Drafted #1 overall in 1969, performed at a high level for 20 years until he retired at 42 (the average NBA player retires around 36-37). He is largely considered one of the top 5 greatest players of all time.

During our January challenge I learned in The Book of Basketball that late in his career Kareem integrated yoga into his fitness regimen and once said, "There is no way I could have played as long as I did without yoga." As someone who would be thrilled to play recreational sports well into my 40's, I was hooked. Nicole agreed it would be good for her in her mid-pregnancy state, so we bought two $6 yoga mats and here we are at the end of the month. Observations/reflections below:
  • Enjoyability- We actually had a good bit of fun. The combination of relaxation and putting your body into seemingly impossible positions was something we wanted to do (almost) every day. 
  • CrossFit- It complements CrossFit perfectly. Not only is it a nice break from the "high intensity/suck the life out of you" style of workout, but CrossFit also demands significant flexibility and we both have major areas to grow in our mobility that yoga will help improve dramatically.
  • Hard- This experience taught us at least one thing: we aren't very flexible. So many of the positions the videos took us through challenged parts of our bodies we didn't know were parts of our bodies. We are even more motivated than when we started because now we know how many problems we have.
  • Spirituality- Some people may feel wary of yoga due to it's Hindu/Buddhist roots. Many of the videos we completed incorporated some sort of spiritual element focused on either connecting with your inner you or emptying yourself of all thought/emotion in order to find peace and clarity. During these times we instead chose to focus on the reality of God and fill our minds with his truth, which turned the experience into a new way to connect with God.
  • Pregnancy- Since Nicole is scaling back her CrossFit routine in light of number two, prenatal yoga helped to battle the extra body aches and stiffness that often accompanies pregnancy.  Stretching in all the right places relieved a lot of pressure and was a great way to keep loose and "active" in a low impact way. 
  • "Asana"- If you want to sound like you do yoga, just add "asana" onto the end of everything. Saying things like "Please pass the saltasana" or "I'm going to bedasana" will fool the most avid yoga crowds into thinking you are a pro.
  • Free- There's loads of free resources out there, we especially liked Ekhart and Do Yoga With Me.
All in all, the most important thing about this month: we didn't turn into this

April Challenge

For April we are going with a challenge in the "consume" category: Watch 30 new TV shows. Let us know what shows you think we should try!

Photo credits:
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar by Kip-koech (CC BY)
Bhekasana Frog Yoga Pose by Steven Depolo (CC BY)

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