Recently I stumbled across a Facebook post recommending a “30 Day Plank Challenge”, taking you from 20 seconds in plank to a full five minutes in one month’s time. Seemed like a great idea to me, although I realized that there is probably no scientific validity behind this method or rate of improvement, and my fellow yoga teachers pointed out the terrible form of the woman on the post. Regardless, I was up for a challenge and raring to go.
Timing your plank is tough, and at first this was the hardest part. If you have a timer in front of you, you end up staring at the seconds go by, and then boy do they go by slowly. As a yogi I wanted to spend the time exploring my breath, alignment, and searching for my bandhas, not staring at the clock. I got into a habit at first of playing podcasts on tantra philosophy on my ipod, because it fit the mood and gave me an accurate time. Eventually I hit on an ideal way to proceed- setting my Kindle up under my face and watching Mortal Kombat videos on YouTube, turning off the sound, and setting them up so the video ended at exactly my goal time.
Mortal Kombat and yoga? I started to focus on my yoga practice at the same time that I started reading the Matt Fraction / Ed Brubaker / David Aja martial arts comic Immortal Iron Fist. I loved the idea of a superhero who solved problems with esoteric notions like meditation, chi, and alignment. When the comic took a turn into a pan-dimensional martial arts tournament, it visually took on a look from the Mortal Kombat video game franchise. Thus there are times when I picture a room full of yogis and it looks like a bunch of my friends in tadasana, and sometimes it looks a lot more like Kitana, Raiden, and Mileena.
There are some fascinating Mortal Kombat videos on YouTube, conveniently at or around the durations for the various stages in the 30 Day Plank Challenge. When I was at 45 seconds it seemed unlikely that I was ever going to make a minute. Today was my last day at 2:30. Time to start picking longer videos.