Tomorrow, on February 1, the experiment begins.
For one month, I will do a yoga class and write for one hour every day.
I’m posting it. Now I’ve got to do it.
For a lot of years, I did a lot of yoga—five or six days a week at my best. And it showed: I was thin, strong, centered—and good at yoga. I felt good about what my body could do. And my posture was so stellar, people told me I looked taller.
Then my favorite yoga center in New York moved to Vermont and I joined a gym and started mixing it up with boxing, elliptical and sweaty workout classes. Then I got married and had a kid and started doing whatever form of sport I could get my hands on, whatever workout I could fit between nursing and naps, then between dropoff and pickup and grocery shopping and doctor’s appointments and the part-time job and picking up cat litter and moments (and occasional hours) of trying to get my writing life back.
Last year, I won two passes to the Wanderlust yoga and music festival in a contest at my gym. I posted pictures of Aidan and me doing yoga together on my gym’s facebook page and explained how I’d lost parts of myself since I became a mom and how I’d like to get them back. The other contestants were mainly young women with rockin’ bods who posted pictures of themselves doing perfect dancing Shiva poses. I figured if my gym had any integrity, I was going to win—and I did. I took my sister along and for three days we did three yoga classes a day, took a hike in the rain, did workshops on living a fulfilling life, went to a Deepak Chopra talk and a Michael Franti and Spearhead concert.
Wanderlust was the first time I’d left Aidan for a night and it did something to me: cleared my head, taught me I could be away from him and be okay, made me feel like me again.
Yoga is something that is all mine. And not only that, but it makes me feel amazing.
So I wondered one night over the holidays what would happen to me if I did yoga every single day for a month. Could I pull it off? My body would ache! How would I make the time?! And yet, if I told myself I had to, then I would do it. That’s just the way I am.
I got in a big fight with Harlan about this. When I told him my idea, he shrugged it off like no big deal, of course you can do it, honey, as if it were easy peasy, a piece of cake. I totally lost my shit and screamed at him in public (at the bar at the Ivy, no less) about how it’s so wrong that I’ve come up with this profound personal challenge and he’s treating it like something that Jo homeless woman in the park could pull off with one hand strapped behind her back. Well, I’ve never done yoga 30 days in a row! I told him. You probably don’t know anyone who’s ever done 30 days in a row! It’s hard! Dammit.
He never backed down or understood what I got so riled up about, but I knew that for me it was a big deal.
When I went to our local health food store Cambridge Naturals, the other day, the salesman there, Nate, knew exactly what I was talking about. He does ashtanga every single morning at the crack of dawn and he gets it completely.
“It’s going to change your life,” he said. “You’re going to have to plan your life around your practice.”
This month I’m going to plan my life not around Harlan’s teaching schedule, not around Aidan’s dropoffs and pickups and play dates, but around my practice.
It shouldn’t be a big deal, but it is. Because I’ve never done it before.
And I’m expecting a lot:
I want to lose weight. I want want to get stronger. I want to cure my back, shoulder and neck issues. I want to stand taller. I want to sleep better. I want to de-stress. I want to find quiet and clarity.
I want to be transformed.
Tall order? Sure. That’s why I threw in the writing. If I’m trying to revolutionize my life in a month, might as well go for the whole shebang. An hour a day might not seem like a lot of writing, but I don’t write for an hour a day. I certainly don’t write for an hour a day every day, seven days a week. So that’s something I’d like to take on, too. This is about discipline and creating a model for what I’d like my life to look like and it’s time to take all those projects off the back burners and get them cooking again.
While I’m at it, I’m throwing in cleaner eating. I’m not going to beat myself up if I need a cookie or a glass of wine, but I’m going to go easy on the sweets and white flour, lay off the bread and pasta, step up my fruit and veg intake and drink the amount of water you’re supposed to drink but I rarely do. And, just to take things up a notch, I’m also considering a 5-day liver cleanse, since a lot of people have suggested that my xanthelasma has something to do with my liver. This seems like the right month to do it. (I may also do the same company’s 5-day bowel cleanse, because they promise a flatter stomach, which I could use!)
There have already been conflicts:
This weekend we’re visiting our friends Elizabeth, Jerry, Lilli and Henry in Northampton and I thought, how the hell am I going to do my yoga? But Liz said she’d do it with me. I’m bringing a DVD. And I’ll squeeze in the writing first thing in the a.m. or while anyone but me is making dinner.
In a couple of weeks, we’re also visiting our friends Caitlin and Dan in Portland, and again, I panicked. “I’ll do it with you,” Caitlin said. She’s a writer, too, so we’ll have fun running off to grab ourselves time for writing and downward dogging.
Then Harlan announces he is shooting a movie another weekend for a colleague. (Jesus Christ, no one’s going to make this easy for me!) At that point, I was like, well, I will just do what I have to do. If it means leaving Aidan with my landlady or a friend or even hiring a babysitter, I will do what it takes. Because this month it is about me.
One other thing is on Fridays, Aidan doesn’t have school, so I have to take him to daycare at my gym and do the class I’ve been avoiding for the last year and a half: the class I took the day I learned Nina died.
Despite the obstacles, this is the right month. Because Aidan’s birthday is this month. This month we celebrate the birth of my son, my baby angel, the wonder of my life—and the main reason I stopped doing all that yoga. Not only is it his birthday month, but this year is the first year since that mind-blowing 2008 day that our little leap year boy can celebrate on the actual date of his birth!
Oh, I will celebrate Aidan with all my might. I will celebrate him with every fiber of my being. It’s his month.
But it’s also mine.