I have taken a brief sabbatical from dance. Earlier this spring, I decided that it was time to get my life into greater balance. At the beginning of the year, I committed to taking better care of myself and to slowing down a little. So the timing was perfect when my yoga studio opened registration for 40 Days to Personal Revolution, a program created by Baron Baptiste (of Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga, the style that I practice).

I consulted Mr. P and some close friends to see if I was crazy to consider doing yoga for 40 days straight. Everyone seemed to think it was a good idea as long as I was willing to making it a priority in my life. I would have to step back from a lot of my usual pastimes and commitments for the duration of the program. The more I thought about it, the more excited I got about it, so I registered away. I told my family and friends I was going to do it, and increased the frequency of my yoga practices to gear up for it.

Then, on what was supposed to be day 1, I got a call from the studio: only five people had registered for the program, not enough to go through with it, and they were rescheduling it to early summer. Did I want to go ahead and wait, or just get my money back? I was crestfallen. I had been so excited about doing this, and was incredibly committed to seeing it through; there was no telling where my life would be in two months. After sleeping on an idea from Mr. P I called the studio and asked them if I could still have the discounted rate on the unlimited yoga classes and do the program on my own (which they agreed to). Yay me!

The way the program works (I am following Baptiste’s book to structure the program as I do it solo) is you do yoga six days a week with one day off. You meditate every day, journal,  and bring more balance into your diet. I had never meditated before, and luckily you start off gradually, with just five minutes the first week, and working up to thirty in five minute increments by the sixth and final week. The diet portion is not too prescriptive, with just a page or two each week reminding you to incorporate more fruits, veggies and whole ingredients into your diet. Nothing too “out there,” save the three-day fruit fast in week four (more on that later).

So here I am on day 24– how am I faring?

Until about day 17, I found doing yoga every day incredibly energizing. Far from tiring me out, it invigorated me and I looked forward to my practice each day, even motivating me (never an early riser) to get up at 5:30am twice a week for a 6am class. I noticed marked improvements in my vinyasa flow, which is the transition between the sun salutation poses, the heart of power yoga. To be honest, I didn’t notice much of a difference in my eating, with the only exception being that the two days I do yoga in the evening, I have to eat a light, fresh, and early dinner or it will literally come back to haunt me when I’m in an inverted pose.

A few days ago, circa day 18, I started to hit a wall. I felt tired. Still I wasn’t about to miss out on a day and forego a star on my calendar (yes, it is amazing that this system works equally on a grown woman as it does on a child), so I’ve kept on truckin’. Although I really had to give myself a pep talk to get to class on day 21, by the time I reached the end of the practice, I was glad I’d come. This weekend, I did the fruit fast. While I am not one to do these types of culinary deprivation, I’m trying to go with it. Three days can’t be thatbad, plus I was already forgoing bread and other grains for Passover. And indeed, I say, hooray that tomatoes and avocadoes are fruits. I will also tell you that the fruit fast makes you pee. A lot. And other stuff that cleans out your system.

Beyond the yoga, I’ve found the meditation component to be the true gift of this program. I had never meditated before, but the mindfulness meditation described in the book was very simple to follow. The hardest part is the first day of a new week when I’m supposed to increase my time by 5 minutes. Now that I’m breezing through 20 minutes, looking back the 10 to 15 minute transition was the hardest. The other hard part is just finding the time– but I’ve discovered ways to sneak it in, like during my 30 minute commute on metro. Meditation helps me be mindful and in tune and I’m learning how to apply that to all areas of my life– I start getting annoyed by noisy tourists and clueless space hoggers on the metro, I breathe; I get anxious about my workload, I breathe; I crave that 3pm trip to the candy bowl, I breathe; I want to come out of the yoga pose, I breathe; I can’t fall asleep because of all the thoughts running through my mind, I breathe, acknowledging the thoughts and letting them go.

In sum, this is far more than just 40 days of yoga, although yoga has certainly become a much bigger part of my life. Although some days I have to give myself a pep talk to get there, most days I crave the stretch, focus, intensity, and release. Since I started, I’ve only danced once, and haven’t had time for many other things (which is why I’ve been neglecting the blog), but I see this as a blessing. I am typically moving in 10 different directions at once and while I thrive on it, it has also taken its toll on me. It’s nice to have such a narrow focus, and the fact that it is totally self-motivated and a result of my own choice and commitment is what makes it work.