This month, I spent 1910 minutes on my mat in a 30-day yoga challenge. It was….not as big a deal as I had built it up to be in my mind.
I’ve been practicing yoga for three years now and I’ve always wanted to do a 30-day yoga challenge, but just like when you’re told to hold a bound side angle pose indefinitely, suddenly your brain starts telling your body you probably can’t do it. Spoiler alert – I totally can.
I hadn’t been to yoga in a while and I hadn’t been consistent with yoga in even longer. All my fun summer trips and activities were in May and June, so July looked a little sad. Until I decided to change that thinking to “July is an empty book, an opportunity.” It also worked out that doing the challenge in July meant finishing three days before my 30th birthday – and yes, the challenge was on my 30 before 30 list.
The first day, I was nervous but I was ready to rock and roll. Getting to my mat the first week was easy, but the second week started to take its toll and I didn’t feel mentally ready for the challenge (the whole brain v. body thing) and felt like I was more going through the motions of getting to class than actually choosing it.
As I sat there waiting for a class one day, I considered that I should probably make a yoga-loving friend. I needed a friendly face greeting me and I need an active friend in general so I can be surrounded by good influences, do the things I love and not get the are you crazy look from EVERYONE when I suggest yoga at my bachelorette and/or wedding. On day 10, in walked Emily. She joined the same gym/yoga studio about a week in and we hit a lot of the classes together. Sweating awkwardly next to her helped a lot!
By day 21, I started to think I’d just keep this going, oh I don’t know, like forever? That line about it taking 21 days to form a habit is no joke! The last week was pure enjoyment and getting there was a necessity – it was part of my routine and WTF am I going to do now that it’s over?
On day 28, my instructor shared some words of wisdom she heard from a Tibetan monk she met in Hawaii (btw, can I have her life, please?):” People make a lot of excuses for why they can’t to they things they want to do. The excuses will always be there, just ignore them. Don’t let anything stop you from doing what you want to do.”
I realized how I had gotten so far where previously I stopped short.
I’m stubborn. I absolutely wanted it. I usually do make excuses to skip evening workouts and except for one pre-work class and weekend morning classes, all the classes were after work, but for once, I had no (good) reasons to skip them.
I did hot Vinyasa, slow flow, slow burn, Ashtanga, Yin and Hatha and even worked in a crossfit/yoga hybrid class. I made it to the studio 28 of the days and did an at home flow twice, including one day on my hot patio as a storm rolled in. I loved the variety (okay, I didn’t love Yin…lying on my back for an hour felt like cheating).
I went in with no expectations, so I think the biggest surprise was that I really improved my handstand, as in, I got a handstand! Really on the first day, and it just kept getting better. I did notice my arm strength improved and they are feeling pretty firm. My core strength came back and my legs are showing a little more definition.
The only potentially negative physical effect is my neck pain starting flaring up again. I really hope the two are not connected, but I started to adjust some postures to avoid putting pressure on that side. I put it off as long as I could, but I started going to a new chiro to try to figure it out and make it feel better.
So, I guess that’s it. 30 days done and done – a great, big deal and not all at the same time. I did take today off, but I’m excited to get back to some of the classes I discovered are my favorites and spend some more me time on my mat.