Another 40-day challenge and flu-like symptoms

I decided that I wanted to pick up a challenge from a year ago, and use it to revitalize my yoga practice. But I did not count on the flu epidemic giving me a glancing blow.

Last year, I signed up for the 40-day Renew program at Thrive Yoga, and about 30 days into the effort I injured by my iliopsoas/hip flexors and I had to stop short of completing the whole program. The injury set off a long period of investigation, healing, recovery, restrengthening, re-injury and starting all over again. It seemed to stretch out over the whole year. I learned some lessons, and I had to recruit of whole team of specialists to deal with the specific condition, but other complications.

Another opportunity

This time, I hope to tackle the 40-day renew challenge more mindfully, more aware of my body,  less aggressively, less mechanically. I certainly need to improve my physical conditioning and stamina to embrace my yoga practice more wholeheartedly. This year, David and Susan Bowen signed up 18 people to go through the program, several of them for a second time, like me. We make a commitment to practice yoga six days a week (three times in class, at a minimum), meditate twice a day (starting at five minutes each teaching, increasing by five minutes each week), studying course materials, sharing our experience among ourselves and seeing how a focused practice can make a shift in our minds and bodies.

Last weekend, I started out taking a vinyasa class on Thursday, and then sat crosslegged for the 40-day renew orientation session.  On the weekend, I took Susan Bowen’s 2/3 vinyasa class, which always challenges, and this time around she focused on the hips. I took a hatha class on Sunday. I felt sore and exhausted by the end of day.

Other forces intervene

On Wednesday evening, I reached home with the intention of going to class at Thrive, but I seemed to turn into a zombie, walking around the house pointlessly, trying to pull together my kit and get changed. I sat down and my wife put dinner in front of me and I ate, thus ruling out a yoga class immediately afterwards.

The next morning, I heard the alarm go off, turned it off a couple of times but could not get out of bed. I stayed there for the rest of the day, with clear symptoms of exhaustion, muscle and joint pain and loss of appetite. I got out of bed the next day, but called off work again. Yesterday, I was feeling better. I had my flu vaccination in November so I guess I got an indirect hit from one of the flu strains, dodging the bullet of the worst flu symptoms, like a cough, a runny nose. It may have something completely different, a cold or virus. I may have been fighting it off for some time, and my defenses collapsed.

So today I went back to Thrive for a restorative yoga class, restarting my 40-day renew initiative even more modestly than I had planned. Carla Kasun starts off her class with a light hatha sequence to get the muscles warm. Within 20 minutes, I was gasping for air and had to seek relieve in child’s pose. I was flabbergast at how low the flu had laid me. Luckily, the second half of the session, I was flat on my back. I am going to have to be careful about how I stress my body during this 40 day renewal because I am starting from a low baseline.

I have kept up with my home practice, but scaled back and more inclined towards restorative poses and hip-openers. I also keep up with my pranayama and meditation, which I think may have mitigated my symptoms.