take the yoga & writing challenge: 21.5.800

The fantastic Bindu Wiles – an inspiring Buddhist writer, yogi, coach, writing advisor and blogger – has created 21.5.800, a community online project and I’ve just signed up for it! How does it work? Starting on June 8, for 21 days I will practice yoga 5 times a week and write 800 words each day. Participants can write anything and practice yoga in anyway that suits them, including just hanging out in savasana.

I can’t wait to get started on Tuesday! But maybe you’re wondering, why would anyone want to take on this crazy  challenge? Bindu offers some convincing reasons:

1. Committing to a short-term project that is challenging and has quotas brings results. In other words, imagine all the writing you will have done in 21 days: 800 x 21= 16,800 words. 16,800 words is roughly 67 pages.

2. Sometimes you need a buddy  and support to get going and get back to the discipline of doing something. It’s easy to blow yourself off, but when other people are doing this and blogging about it, the energy is infectious.

3. The power of community is powerful. With other people online doing the project and blogging and/or tweeting about their process, you know that when you sit down to write or do yoga, many other people are doing the same thing and that’s a motivator.

4. Writing means sitting, and sitting means stiffness. Move a muscle, move a thought. Or for the people who are going to opt into savasana; still the body, still the mind. Either way, putting more movement or more stillness into your life is always a win.

5. Because there are tons of creative ideas and projects banging around inside your head and heart and because I care and want you to get those things out and onto the page, I’m creating a container that can be a vehicle for getting those things actually onto the page. This goes as well for the yoga: it’s easy to blow it off, but this way you are committing to a specific amount for a specific time.

And why I am I doing this challenge? Simply because I want to write but haven’t had the discipline to sit down and do it. I love structured challenges and community support, so I think this will be a good way to get the words down on paper (I’ll have 16,800 of them by the end!). Although I have to admit that the last thing I need this month is a challenge. June is already looking like a very full month. Festival season has descended on Montreal, including my faves, Suoni Per Il Popolo and the Fringe Fest. In addition to my part-time job, I have just accepted another work contract. And the World Cup starts on June 11! I’ve been looking forward to this for the past 4 years.

But somehow, in the midst of dance performances and football matches, I will find time to write 800 words per day and practice yoga 5 times a week (which, I have to admit, I already do… maybe I will vary it up, by writing while I practice or something). You can expect to hear about my journey here!

And head over to Bindu’s blog and sign up yourself!

  1. I am totally terrified, but I will sign up too. I need it. I’ve had numerous conflicting thoughts about balance in my life today and I think this will do me good.

  2. very cool Roseanne!!!

  3. do you have any tips for a wannabe yoga do-er, but can’t get into it? I can’t seem to get the breathing right–I never breathe in and out at the right times, and if I force myself to do it, I feel like I’m suffocating. help??

    • hi remarkablytypical ~ thanks for stopping by! if you want to practice yoga, i would say find a good teacher in your neighbourhood. if that’s not available to you, there are lots of good resources on the yoga journal website. they have videos, podcasts and lots of instructions/explanations of different practices. check it out: http://www.yogajournal.com/video/

    • Check out Yoga for Dummies. It’s been my favorite resource for Yoga for the last ten years. The 2nd Edition came out not too long ago.

      As for getting into it, don’t stress about “right” and “wrong”, instead focus on working within your capacity.

      Yoga is all about self awareness and being present in the moment. Lying down on the floor watching your breath is preferable to struggling with postures. In fact one of the hardest poses in yoga to do properly is the corpse pose.

      Good luck!

    • Oooooh, I love solicited advice! Usually I’m the unsolicited advice kind of gal.

      Have you tried a Vinyasa class? Yes, Vinyasa = flow which can move a bit quickly and be challenging, but the teachers should also cue your motions to match with an inhale or an exhale, so you get a sense of how the movements should flow with the breath.

      That and one more thing: practice breathing into the belly. Many of us “breathe backwards” without even knowing it, that is we breathe a lot into the upper chest and hardly at all into the belly. Breathing into the abdomen and belly is very calming and stimulates relaxation responses in your nervous system which hopefully will alleviate any anxiety you are feeling in a pose!

  4. I’ll do it! I love y*o*g*a and I love to write. I will say, another, main reason to do this is that I have 3 bulging disks in my lower lumbar. I have been dealing with these for a long time and know how to modify my postures to alleviate any potential for additional injury. But at the core of my practice is a fear of re-injury that permeates my asana experience, and I would like to replace that fear with love and courage. So be it. (I did however just realize in writing this that 800 words a day is almost ten times the amount I just wrote – yikes!) This will be an ultimate challenge! Namaste ~ Vicki

  5. Thanks for giving me just what I needed.
    You have officially inspired me! I’m in–I am gonna talk about it via post tomorrow 🙂 and I will be mentioning you as my guiding post to this much needed challenge :).

    Teresa at http://www.myembodiment.com

  6. I think I’ll give it a try, I already practice yoga 5 days a week anyway. What I really need is a bit of inspiration in the time I spend writing. Thanks for the link Roseanne…btw, G (the husband) and I are also great football (soccer) fans and passionately await the World Cup 🙂

  7. Day One, June 8, 2010

    So this morning, after my final awakening at 7:15, (initially I woke at 2:00 a.m. and stayed awake until 4ish), I immediately noticed that I was sore from the previous day’s practice. Recently, this soreness has been a barometer for me to give my body a rest, take a day off. But today was different, and although my mind bantered to and fro about simply not participating in this challenge, I got up.
    Getting up, however, proved not to be the end of the mental tennis match. Scuffling my feet into the kitchen to boil water for this morning’s cup of tea was accompanied with more talk about just not going to yoga. I observed this very interesting process, still feeling slightly numb to it and the environment around me. Taking my tea with local honey into my computer room to see what the world had to say about its morning, I calculated I had about 20 minutes to enjoy this cup of tea, and then off I had better go, or would I?

    No time for a shower, I headed off to the yoga studio and somewhere along the way, I started feel more awake, more focused and committed to yoga which could have been a direct result of listening to MC Yogi’s Ganesha song. Then, for some reason, I started to think about Hatha Yoga as an approach to practicing asanas. Who knows from where the myriad of thoughts present themselves, but my mind was having a very in-depth look at the science of Hatha. I actually practice and teach hot Hatha so I know a few things about it, but what I was focusing on during my drive was the actual approach and its intention. Here’s what my mind was saying: Unlike other types of yoga that focus on breath or meditation, Hatha yoga’s main concern is getting the mind focused on the body. Being physically focused may lead to higher spirituality. An offshoot of the practice may be a marriage of breath to asana and the inclusion of meditation into the practice, but Hatha’s main focus is to still the mind by focusing it on the body. (Although this may be true, don’t take this literally; I am just sharing the rattles of my mind). So, based on the mind’s exploration of Hatha yoga, I decided I would focus, from initial Pranayama to final breathing, on my physical form. This is not much different from what I normally do, but today I will become even more attentive. And I did.

    During breathing I observed the subtle changes in the body, especially in the lower lung areas and side ribs. Watching them deepen and expand and bring rise to the sternum made me thankful to be there and to breathe. Stacking my torso above my hips and keeping it there and finding the edges of my heels to create a strong foundation were part of my body’s opening process as well, but bringing rise to the sternum and keeping the heart and chest lifted dominated the pranayamic experience.

    Perhaps a result of finding my heel crests and keeping the hips under, Half-moon was quite facilitative, surprisingly yielding. At one point I got a little excited and stretched for more, but my right hip signaled me with pain so I pulled back and held. My consciousness acutely focused, I found myself being mindful to places that are not always highlighted in my practice. For example, keeping the palms tightly together, opening the underarms to allow for shoulder rotation and keeping effort there versus always trying to get the hips to shift. It became more about keeping the heart and chest open and breathing there, and once again I found the opening of the heart dominating the asana.

    Of course, I kept attentive to the need to adjust the postures to accommodate for my lower lumbar issue. Forward bends are simply not something I can practice nowadays. Not until the disks return to their normal size. So postures like Pada Hastasana (Hands-to –Feet), Dandayamana-Bibhaktapada-Paschimotthanasana (Forehead to Floor), and even Dandayamana-Bibhaktapada-Janushirasana (Forehead to knee) are postures I have to adjust to avoid forward bends. Today, I felt very comfortable that my alignments were good even though not fully expressed. And it occurred to me that having an injury is similar to having the ability to Google parts of your body and view satellite. I found that in Hands- to- Feet, (I basically stoop) I can feel the edges of my sit bones as the farthest point from the top of my head, how elongating the back side of the femur bone into its head toward the pelvis releases the sit bones even more, how lengthening the front and back side of the spine tips the head slightly forward lengthening the front side of the neck into the floor of the mouth under the soft palette. It was then my mind came to a 360o conclusion: here I am intricately focused on these asanas, my body married wholly with the mind, practicing Hatha Yoga. Life doesn’t get better than this, even with an injury.

    • wow, thanks vicky! it looks like this challenge is already having a powerful effect on you! thanks for sharing your 800 words with us. you’re welcome to share them here in the comments space, although you might want to start your own blog for this practice. it looks like you’re going to unearth a lot of stuff. i know from my own experience of working with an injury in my yoga practice that so much can be revealed…

  8. I am taking the challenge and one upping it by adding hiking 4 days a week. I started today, and have already written 805 words not including this post. Now I am heading to the Patty Miles Yoga Studio in Murphys, Ca. Then where shall I hike? Maybe to San Antonio Falls.

  9. I totally want to try this. I am going to go sign up. Thanks for sharing this!