Long before I knew anything about the Camino, I started doing yoga. I loved how it made me feel instantly relaxed, as if I just had a massage. I decided that I needed this good feeling on a daily basis to relieve stress, slow down and breathe deep. I quickly became addicted. If I didn’t do yoga for a period of 2 to 3 days, my upper back and shoulders would tighten up, and my hips would feel sore at night. At times I would become grouchy. I knew I needed an attitude adjustment, so I would hit the yoga mat and the feeling of calm dissolved any angst. Stress melted away and life would become balanced again.
I am so grateful that I found this practice 17 years ago. My posture improved, my weight is under control, and I can deal with stress. While yoga studios are plentiful in the Bay Area, I have done most of my yoga at home where I can practice anytime. I’ve tried a variety of yoga workouts via Netflix, the library, or buying DVDs on sale.
My commitment to daily yoga intensified in 2014 when I discovered The Ultimate Yogi practice with Travis Eliot. This set of 12 DVDs includes a booklet, detox recipes and a calendar to track the routines for 108 days. Each practice is about one hour and many of them are great cardio workouts. A few feature deep stretching and one DVD has Pranayama breathing with beautiful gratitude meditation.
Everyone who completes the Ultimate Yogi program has significant results—the most noticeable for me were my arms became tone, I lost a few pounds and I gained more flexibility. I completed my first round of 108 days of yoga while I was in Santiago on a tour of northern Spain. It was a huge accomplishment— a personal Camino of sorts, without the stamps.
After I completed the 108 day challenge last year, I went back to some of my favorite yoga DVDs that I had missed. However, within a few months away from the Ultimate Yogi, I went back to some of my favorites from the collection: Detox, Yin, Cardio, Strength and Cross Train, which is available on YouTube. I even missed Travis’ southern drawl (he sounds like Matthew McConaughey). I recently decided to commit to the 108 day challenge again, to get me through the holiday season. I am currently on day 71 of my Ultimate Yogi 2.0. I learned to customize the practice based on how I’m feeling, my schedule and how to adjust the intensity. Now that you know the background, below are some tips for anyone interested in taking the 108 day Ultimate Yogi challenge.
10 Ways to Hack your Ultimate Yogi Practice
- Take it on the road. Don’t let traveling keep you from your practice. I did much of the 108 day challenge while traveling, including two wedding weekends and on a tour of Spain. I’ve done yoga in the tiniest hotel rooms with just a towel as a mat, and at the airport before an overnight flight. Tip: Copy the DVDs to your laptop and use lightweight wireless earbuds.
- Mix it up. If the schedule for the day calls for something slow, like Mountain Pose or Gentle, but you feel you need more of a burn, swap it out for Cardio or Strength. Save the slower routines for days that you might have less energy.
- Listen to your body. If you have already done another type of strenuous workout such as biking, running or hiking, choose a deeper stretch practice like Yin or Flexibility. Tip: When swapping, select from the routines that are within the 36 day track that you’re currently in.
- Keep track. Write on a calendar the number and title of practice so if you swap out of sequence (per above), you can still do each of the 108 days.
- Divide and conquer. If you know you’ll have a busy day, try doing half of the practice in the morning and the remainder at night. Just find a good breaking point between series of asanas.
- Step it up. Use soft ankle and wrist weights to add more strength building your daily practice. You’ll notice muscle toning results much faster.
- Double up. The Hardcore abs routine is only 18 minutes, so you can do that in the mornings and your scheduled daily practice later in the day. You will burn more calories to offset those holiday feasts and treats!
- Soak in it. Try the Pranayama – Meditation practice in the bathtub! Tip: for the ultimate in relaxation, use lavender essential oil and mineral or epsom salts. Breathe deeply.
- Feeling tipsy? Let’s face it – We don’t live in an ashram. There will be temptations to indulge, especially during the holidays. If you’ve had one too many cocktails at the party or happy hour, do not attempt the Balance routine. Trust me. Swap it out for Gentle, Yin or Flexibility. Tip: for hangovers the next day, try the Detox routine. The twists and deep breathing will squeeze the toxins right out.
- Namaste. It used to drive me crazy that Travis would not say Namaste at the end. I say it anyway, after he says his closing “. . . be ultimate. See you on the mat.” No matter how tone you become or how much fat this practice helps you burn, it is still based on the ancient practice of yoga. Honor the practice by closing it with the traditional word and gesture, Namaste. We bring the hands together at the heart chakra to increase the flow of Divine love. Bowing the head and closing the eyes helps the mind surrender to the Divine in the heart.
I recommend the Ultimate Yogi for anyone who wants to expand their yoga practice and strive for a goal that will challenge the body and mind. It can also serve as a great core workout, total body strengthener and endurance builder for the Camino. Look for the DVD collection on Amazon, or on the Ultimate Yogi website.
Namaste , y buen Camino!