Meet Semperviva Yoga member, Debbie Litvack. Debbie took up yoga at 40 and has never looked back. She hopes to inspire her two pre-teen daughters and friends and community to share her passion for yoga. When not practicing asanas on the mat, she works as a geriatric social worker and with her partner and kids enjoys a busy, healthy and active lifestyle.
I have done four 40 day challenges at Semperviva, over a two year period. The accomplishment has only a small fraction to do with the actual completion; rather it has everything to do with the process. The daily practice, the camaraderie, the energy, the community, the “off the mat” feelings and intrinsic rewards, the physical strength and body changes, the clear thinking and greater ability to focus, and so much more.
Many of the specific details from each challenge escape me now, but I remember being fully challenged and loving each experience. The challenge opening, mid-way and last classes are incredible. These classes are opportunities to get a taste of yin, hatha, power and kundalini as well as to see the community of fellow challengers (and there’s bacalava at the party after the last class…yummy). The energy in that room is unlike any other. Everyone is excited, enthusiastic, a little nervous, but in the same mind frame. It is exhilarating to practice and breathe next to other challengers and to encourage, support and motivate one another. In regular classes, the teachers generally ask who in the class is participating in the challenge and it creates pride and continued enthusiasm.
After completing my first challenge, I added my own challenges to coincide with the daily practice, among them lifestyle changes as well as personal and professional goals. If you can do a 40 day challenge in yoga, you can challenge yourself in other areas of your life and success is realistic and achievable. I did 39 classes the first time and over 40 for all the rest. I truly believe that the actual number does not count; though I confess at the time I did care very much about how many classes I did. I am here to tell you though that the number is truly irrelevant. It’s the commitment and personal fulfillment and all the off the mat results that make the difference.
There is no question that participating in a 40 day challenge is, uh, challenging, to say the least. During the challenges, it pretty much feels like yoga is the only thing on the brain and I suspect for most people, it is. It requires significant planning, sacrifice, the support of family and friends and personal dedication. Some days it is hard to fit in practice because of work and life commitments, internal motivation (or lack thereof), out of town travel, and other responsibilities. Some days the body feels tired too – aches and pains creep up. There were days when child’s pose and savasana were my main poses for the class, but that counts since it sure is yoga.
I did two challenges on my own and two with a group of friends. The first one was the toughest physically, but the third, the one I did with three friends was the most fun of all the four challenges. While I don’t need a friend to motivate me for a challenge or for yoga in general, many people do. That particular challenge was the most fun and deeply meaningful because the four of us really bonded and formed our own yoga community. We would walk or run to the studio together and usually have a few meals (ok and some drinks) after the classes. At the end we threw ourselves a party where we dressed up and did, what else…yoga (in our fancy clothes). We encouraged each other to try different styles of yoga and to practice with teachers whom we may not otherwise have met or practiced with.
The 40 day challenges and yoga in general have been hugely meaningful to me and instrumental in my life. After the first challenge I went on the Semperviva retreat to Galiano and made lifelong friends. Around the second challenge, I lost 45 pounds. The third one was the one with my group of friends, and after the fourth, I was fortunate enough to be the winner of a six month pass to Semperviva! What a bonus! One of the best things to come from the repeated challenges was my enrollment and completion of the 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training at Semperviva.
It is my understanding that it takes 40 days to make or break a habit. It did for me. I have been practicing almost daily since the beginning of the first challenge about 4 years ago. The habit of yoga is the best habit I have ever had and I anticipate having it forever. It is AMAZING for your body, mind and soul and feeling that good is contagious. For my Yoga Teacher Training I wrote an essay about what yoga is to me and my answer was the result of my 40 day challenges: Yoga is breath. Yoga is community. Yoga is life. Oh, yes, Yoga has some really fun and strengthening poses too!
My advice to 40 day challengers: Have confidence! Get to know the teachers and let them know what your level is, what your goals are, and any injuries or sensitive areas you have. Do it with a friend! Be open-minded and try new styles and new teachers. Be gentle with yourself. It’s not the end of the world if you miss a day but do make the effort to go. If you don’t feel well, lie in savasana. Have fun, don’t take yourself too seriously!!! You may want to keep a journal as you won’t believe what will come your way during and after the 40 day challenge.
I want to stress that Gloria, Scott and the Semperviva family of teachers, Yoga Advisors and community in general make the 40 day challenges that much more fun. They truly care about the students’ practice and well being. There is no question that their support makes the 40 day challenges that much more fun.
Hope to see you on the mat! Namaste.
Semperviva’s next 40 Day Challenge starts on October 27th. Click here to sign up!