For the month of October, I challenged myself to a 30 day yoga challenge, including Pilates along the way. I have done yoga many, many times over the years, but I’ve never committed to doing it on a nearly daily basis. Plus, in the past whenever I did commit to any type of exercise it was always for the wrong reasons, like I thought that I “got fat.” Even when I was practicing yoga, I was so busy judging myself and comparing my body to others in class that I didn’t get much out of it. I knew that this time, I wanted to do things differently…
Let’s jump right into my 30 day yoga challenge with a quick recap of day one.
30 Day Yoga Challenge: The Hottest Hot Yoga!
So October started out with a 90 minute hot yoga session. I forgot how hot, hot yoga is! It was actually quite shocking as it has been a few years since I practiced hot yoga. I was sweating from places that I didn’t even know were possible, like my eyebrows and eyelids. The class was the perfect way to reignite my love for yoga. I had felt called to practice yoga for quite a while, but I kept ignoring it. Instead, I focused on HIIT, Barre3 and the dreaded treadmill/elliptical at the gym. They were making me feel more anxious, were not helping me tone and most important (besides Barre3), I hated doing them.
If you hate something that much, you’re not gonna do it. Something that is easier said than done, I know. I was trying to follow what I thought everyone else was doing and it was not giving me the same results. I thought it was me, that I didn’t have the motivation or willpower that others had. But, really it was that I hadn’t found the thing I needed. My body and my mind were telling me to practice yoga and I ignored it. Sometimes, our intuition is screaming to us, yet we refuse to hear it. This was one of those times.
30 Day Yoga Challenge: How to Stick with It
Now that I made the commitment, I knew that it would be hard for me to keep it. Why? Because that is kinda how I am. So this time, I wanted to make sure I held myself accountable in some way. Honestly, one of the best ways to do this today, is with social media. Whether or not, people took notice of my commitment is not the point, I just quietly announced it on a post. The point was that I made the declaration to the world and to myself. Maybe you don’t need to declare it on social media exactly, but I think posting it somewhere you will see it is beneficial. The accountability here is what is important.
Up until October 16, I made it to class every single day.
I AM SO DAMN PROUD OF THAT!
Old me would have let that one day stick out and think I should have done better or tried harder or gave up altogether. New me, is not gonna go down that road. Shit happened that day that was out of my control, to keep my sanity, I decided NOT to go. I could have forced myself at the end of a long and shitty day, but I didn’t. I actually listened to my body.
Along with this HUGE lesson, I also learned a lot more.
Here are five things that this 30 day yoga challenge taught me:
I can be a morning person: I am still not a big morning person, but I am getting better. In my post all about staying motivated, I mention that getting my workout done in the morning is key. This way, things don’t pop up in the evenings that prevent me from making it to class. Plus doing hot yoga in the morning helps to center me and gives my day more intention. I love waking up and doing yoga first thing and my body does too. It is a gentle way to move your body slowly and with intention. Along with my 5 minute journal in the morning, this is how I like to start my day. My body actually is amazing, as-is: This 30 day yoga challenge has helped me appreciate my body in a much different way. Through only these past 30 days, I have already noticed a difference in how my body moves throughout the poses. Each time I practice, I feel myself getting stronger and also find a spot that is softer than maybe I would like. But in that softness, there is beauty too. I may not be able to do all the poses or be as flexible as I want, but these things take time. My body will get there too, but where it is right now is pretty awesome.
I am so much stronger than I think: Both physically and mentally, yoga has truly helped to make me more appreciative of this. Within these 30 days, I have moved my body in ways that I didn’t know I could and I have also resisted moving in ways that don’t feel good. In the past, I may have tried to push myself more or judge myself for not being able to get my feet flat in downward dog. Now, I don’t. Instead, I simply acknowledge my limitation at the moment and modify without any shame. Yoga is a practice, nobody is going to be able to do all the poses and stretch all the things right away. It takes time and I hope to have a lot of that. Mentally, yoga has also pushed me in different ways. In those times of blessed savasana, I have come close to tears numerous times. It could be something that the instructor said, or feelings that came out at the time of sheer gratitude for life. No matter what it is, it has played a big role in my mental health as well.
That yoga is for everyone: The mix of people in class just reinforced that yoga is for everyone. Prior to this, I thought it would only be young, thin, white females and then my first class I had a great male instructor. I was honestly (happily) surprised by the diversity in these classes. I think part of the reason is that the health and wellness space can often look very much the same. You don’t see a lot of diversity, sadly. The benefits you get from practicing yoga should not go unnoticed by anyone just becasue they think they don’t belong. If you want to read and learn more about this, check out Jessamyn’s Instagram. This lady is oh so inspiring to me. That slowing down is just as important as keeping up: Rather than always trying to be go-go-go and then combining that with a more intense workout was not working for me anymore. The stress from it all was not doing me any good and when I slowed down, things have since become clearer and I am more focused. When things start to get to be too much, I have learned to do some breath work to help combat the anxiety. Yoga is all about breathing and its something that I had kind of forgotten about, so it is good to have that back.
So now that my 30 day yoga challenge is officially over, what am I going to do next?
Do another challenge of course! The studio I go to is having a Movember challenge, so I’ll be attempting to do another 30 days.
Are you a yogi? Or curious about yoga? Done a yoga challenge in the past? Let me know in the comments and lets chat all things yoga!