March 2018 Focus Area: Movement
(i.e., the method to my March Pledge madness):
In general, I would say I’m known for being pretty active, though, in all honesty, I must admit to having my sedentary days. Additionally, while I may be quite active in some areas (i.e., walking, hiking, cycling) I do not do a lot of muscle building or core strengthening exercises and I have noticed (with age 😢) that some parts of my body seem sticky, or painful, and do not move as easily as I would like them to. My doctor x-rayed my spine a couple years ago and the results showed some deterioration. I’ve seen my osteopathic physician and registered massage therapist fairly consistently over the last few years to try to help with some of those sticky and painful spots. Both have, at different times, recommended a handful of stretches that they recommend for me but despite my best intentions I usually forget to do these on a regular basis.
For the last few years I have been attending yoga more regularly (usually once a week, occasionally twice a week, or sometimes not for a few weeks if my schedule doesn’t permit it). I’ve noticed that when I’m doing yoga regularly, even just once per week, that I feel stronger. I’ve also noticed that most of the stretches that have been recommended to me correspond to yoga poses.
Until recently, I rarely did yoga at home on my own, unless I had a particular pain that I thought I might be able to help through stretching. In January I began doing 5 minutes of yoga every morning before I start my day (i.e., I try not to leave my bedroom until I’ve done it). Even with this little 5-minute practice, I’ve noticed an increase in my strength in my weekly class. It has also been a much nicer way to start my day, rather than checking my phone or computer for messages first thing.
Edited to add: I really struggled with formulating my pledge(s) for this month. I really wanted to be more consistent with the stretches that have been recommended to me so my body will feel good and then I got excited about the idea of using yoga to achieve that goal, as I also really want to expand on my yoga practice. Add in that I want to make sure I am being more consistently active (i.e., 30 minutes of activity each day) and I made a real mess of things trying to work all of these ambitions into my March pledge. Based on some helpful reader feedback (thanks, Mum!), I have revised the pledges under #2 below to make them more SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-based). Stay tuned for the mid-month update to see if I need to revise them further. 🙂
- Since the primary reason for this pledge is to see some improvement in the sticky parts of my body, at the bare minimum I pledge to do the following, recommended, stretches each day:
- Squat (Malasana)
- A variation of this Spinal Twist (i.e., How my RMT told me to do it, by making right angles at my knees and hips).
- Chest opener (Here I will divert a bit from yoga as my doctor has recommended that I stretch in a door frame. While I know there are many chest opening poses in yoga, and I’m sure I will do several as part of this month’s pledge, I feel like I get the greatest stretch in my chest when I used the doorframe method).
- Last month, according to my Apple Watch, I exercised (defined as a brisk walk or more) for at least 30 minutes per day 71% of the time (i.e. 20 of 28 days). This month I pledge to meet or exceed my 30-minute exercise goal 27 (or more) days this month (i.e., 87% of the month).
- Since I would like to do more yoga and use it to improve my overall core strength, I will count it towards the exercise minutes that I’ve pledged to do above. In order to expand on my current yoga practice, I pledge to increase my daily practice to at least 30 minutes of yoga a day during the week and at least 5 minutes a day on the weekends (because weekends are more likely to go off schedule).
Measure(s) of Success
I will consider this a success if I:
- Continue to start each day with at least 5 minutes of yoga/stretching
- Incorporate the recommended stretches into my daily yoga/stretching routine
- Expand on my current yoga practice so that I am doing at least 30 minutes a day on weekdays by the end of the month
- Do 30 minutes or more of exercise (either yoga and/or other movement/exercise) at least 27 days this month (I will use my Apple Watch to track this)
- Notice improvements in my sticky areas*
- The videos on the Do Yoga With Me website will provide me with lots of different styles to try.
- To further inspire and help me learn more about yoga, I will also be reading, Do Your Om Thing by Rebecca Pacheco.
- I’m curious to learn more about potentially deepening my practice through Yoga Teacher Training so I will be signing up for the Yoga Teacher Prep Academy this month as well.
*What are my sticky areas and how can I measure the before/after difference? I’m stuck for an answer here, so if you have any suggestions for how I can monitor my progress, please let me know.
One option would be to do the same yoga sequence on the first and last days of the month and then record how it felt after each time to see if I notice a difference but I’m open to additional ideas. 🙂