Woohoo – I did it and that rocked!
Waking up on Sunday morning and realizing it was day 30, the final day of the yoga challenge was a mix of surprise, joy and a little pride as well.
I really wasn’t sure about doing this and even more unsure that I would be able to stick with it. Now I can honestly say, it was one of the best things I’ve done and am SO glad I decided to commit and give it a try.
I have had a home practice for over a year now but I had never practiced daily before. As the weeks went on, I started to see real changes in myself, my thoughts, how I dealt with daily life and how much more peaceful and relaxed I felt overall.
Here are a few of things I learned along the way.
Image source – rateyourburn.com
1. Don’t Be Afraid To Make Your Own Rules
After signing up for the challenge at DoYouYoga.com, daily emails were sent containing links to short videos by yoga teacher Erin Motz to use for your practice. I love this idea and what better way to stay on track that with free, instructional videos sent directly to your inbox each day? The trouble was, I didn’t like the videos and started feeling really frustrated. *For what I was looking for, wanting and needing, they were too short and more like spot training instead of a more complete, full body flow.
But that’s ok. Since this was my personal journey with yoga, I decided to truly make it my own. I ditched the emails, went back to my own favorite videos, some days I just making up my own flow with asanas I loved and created a fun, happy daily practice. It was still challenging and I still learned a lot. Most importantly, it helped me stick with the challenge and have a great experience as well.
Was this bending the rules or going a little off track? Maybe but I think it can also be good to create your own path, even if it’s a little different from the rest of the crowd.
2. Letting Go Can Be Hard – and Liberating and Awesome!
That is, letting go of expectations and limits, always looking for and needing that perfect situation to do something you want or need to do. This was one of the biggest challenges for me and I really struggled with it the first week or so.
Once I let go and accepted my “imperfect” situations (not always having a peaceful, silent house to practice in, still not being able to get in to some of the more advanced poses, etc.), it felt like I was able to open up to new possibilities (like yoga in the afternoon while little Lou watched Curious George), to inspiration and most importantly, to a real sense of peace.
I was finally starting to relax from deep inside and it felt awesome.
3. Intentions Have Power
I didn’t always put a lot of thought in to setting an intention at the beginning of my practice but for this challenge, I decided to give it a try as well. My intention would be for whatever I felt I needed that day and I tried to keep them fairly short and simple. And boy did I feel the effects, during and long after stepping off the mat. One I probably used most often was:
To let go of fear and worry about past or future and truly live in the present moment.
I don’t even think I realized how much time my mind was spending, spinning loops of the past or freaking out over something that hadn’t even happened yet. Not only did I feel more peaceful and settled inside, I noticed I was not constantly checking email or twitter all day. My shifts at work seemed easier and I wasn’t getting that nervous belly or slight panic feeling when I wasn’t sure about how something would turn out.
4. Let Your Body Be Your Guide
Listen to your body, trust yourself, follow your instincts, do what feels right for you…you get what I’m saying, right? I’ve always felt strongly about this but somewhere in the middle of this challenge, the truth of it really settled in deep.
There are still poses I can’t get in to. I can’t do full wheel even though I really want to and feel like I should be able to but pushing, straining and forcing is just going to cause pain and possibly injury. The goal is a balance of effort and ease, respecting and honoring where you are at right now and knowing, all is coming. Wheels are in motion, things are changing and happening around us all the time.
My husband asked what I will do now that the challenge is over and without hesitating, I answered. I’m going to keep going. Yoga has been something I have loved for a long time now but I admit, I was surprised at how much I learned and how much better I felt just from becoming more consistent and practicing every day. I signed up to do the 30 day challenge almost on a whim, just to see if I could and what I got back was far more than expected. More than being able to manage stress better and feel good physically, the deeper sense of contentment and calm has been a beautiful and welcome change.
I still have a lot to learn and that is exciting as well. The challenge is over but my journey will continue.
*I absolutely mean no disrespect to DoYouYoga or Erin Motz in this post and appreciate their efforts in creating this challenge and providing all the free videos. Opinions expressed here are solely my own personal preferences. Both the challenge and videos provided an awesome opportunity and enjoyed learning for many, many people.