4 Lessons Learned From the 30 Day Yoga Challenge

woman meditating near water

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.
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The Challenge

An Om symbol in the sand at a beach

Tomorrow…it begins.

“It” being the 30 day yoga challenge I signed up for at DoYouYoga.com. I wasn’t sure I was going to do it but had been playing with the idea for several days. That, along with the lack of getting off my butt on my own lead me to enter my email address on the sign up page and make the commitment.

I’m pretty nervous. I’m scared I won’t stay with it. I don’t know about you but my brain is really good at rationalizing excuses, even when it’s something I need to do and know I’ll be happier for.

A 30 day challenge is something I’ve never done and like most new things, the thought of it is causing some discomfort and worry. That’s not terrible though. One of the many things I hope to learn through this process is walking through those kinds of feelings, especially when it comes to new things or facing the unknown.

Because honestly, doing the actual yoga every day isn’t what I’m worried about. It’s all the mental garbage I’ll be confronting and shifting and learning to work with.
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This afternoon, I was reading an article on healing relationships and was completely awestruck as it told about part of a couples vows from their wedding:

that all circumstances might serve the awakening of wisdom and compassion.

All circumstances – the good, the bad and the ugly. The days when you can hardly drag yourself out of bed, the times when you just want to cry or punch someone in the face and the days when you can’t remember if you’ve ever laughed so hard or felt so happy.

Serving the awakening of wisdom and compassion.

What a thing to strive for. Hard enough just concentrating on yourself, now put this in the context of a marriage or serious relationship. Yowza!

It resonated with me, that’s for sure. And another reminder of what a padawan I continue to be because I’m not even close to this much of the time but I love when I find these kinds of reminders. A beautiful intention, something so worth while to work toward.

Especially while I’m feeling off off track and lopsided and not quite myself.
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One Idea

quote from Yoga Journal magazine - Feb. 2013 edition. Take one idea....

Every month, I look forward to the next issue of Yoga Journal set to arrive in my mailbox. Besides all the great information on poses and general health and wellness, there is always something unexpected that touches or inspires me in some great way.

A few days ago, the February 2013 issue arrived. Flipping through, I landed on a page with the following quote and sat, re-reading it several times.

“Take up one idea. Make that idea your life – think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, and every part of your body be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success.”
– Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902)

It made me think of how many times, I’ve gotten too tangled up with worries of:
I want this but how am I going to be able to do it?
How will I ever have enough time, money, etc?

Truthfully, letting my own fears and insecurities take over and slowly losing sight of a dream or goal, ending with feeling hopeless and depressed.
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Freaky 40

Assorted, colorful 40th birthday cupcakes

The last few years have been full of changes, some pretty big changes actually and most of them for the better. But there’s something that has changed in a bad way and I’m trying to figure out exactly why or how it has happened.

I love birthdays, always have. And I have always thought it was silly and ridiculous that some women try to hide their true age, won’t give out their birthday or get depressed on the day.

Because me? I celebrate. I make a big freaking deal. I used to schedule a shopping day off from work for my birthday every year before my stay at home mom days.

My 21st birthday was awesome! 30th birthday, felt great. Turning 35, ok that one was rough, I was pregnant and horribly sick but felt no ill will about my age at all.

I even used to think, yes I am getting older but I’m also getting – better.
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Shop Girl

This morning, when my son asked about going to the movies, I quickly answered “I’ll get paid on Friday so maybe we can go this weekend.”

It felt so good to say, so natural and I instantly felt happy about it. Then, my stomach tightened and I remembered, this will be my last pay day for a while.

I’d previously written about my nervousness, how strange it felt to be venturing back in to the work force after so long at home and then adjusting to my new schedule and busyness around the holidays.

But regardless of everything, I loved it.

I loved working, I loved my job. I loved having this new responsibility outside of the house and making my own money again.
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rock with the word gratitude written on it

I know I’ve said it before, but these holidays just keep sneaking up on me!

On Tuesday, after a brief panic when I realized the toddler was off from preschool until next week and I had not done any dinner planning yet for Thanksgiving, I sat down and started making lists (my go-to planning strategy) and realized I don’t really have too much to do or worry about.

Which makes me SO very thankful. Thankful for our laid back life, our little family and how much every day good I have in my life right now.

Here’s what I’m super happy about this year:
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Hand Stands and Facing Fears

Sunday morning, I proudly announced to my husband that I’d tried my first hand stand.

“It was scary and awesome!” I told him, still feeling a little of both myself.

I’ve been wanting to start learning more inversions and challenging poses for a while now. And I have to admit, I choose a hand stand to start with because of a poses I’m kind of obsessed with, Vrschikasana or scorpion pose.

Here’s what it looks like.

woman doing yoga in scorpion pose

Image source – tumblr.com
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Growing Pains

Last week was a true challenge. Actually, it was stressful, scary, difficult and exhausting. Things were really hard. It sucked.

I’m pretty good about looking for the lessons in things, especially in the difficult moments but sometimes I do want to ask, “Why so rough, life? Do you really have to slap me around like that? Have I not been seeing what you wanted me to see for so long you’ve lost patience? I thought we were kind of friends!”

A friend of mine always says, you will keep being presented with the same lessons over and over until you learn what you need to and grow from them.
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Watching The Path Unfold

Blue sky and open field

Is it harder to not know what you want in life or to know but have your goals seem far out of reach?

I’ve been on both sides of this question as most probably have and I don’t know if there is one, simple answer. The answer is probably different for each one of us. What feels worse to me may not be so terrible for you.

Both situations can be difficult, both are uncomfortable and sometimes scary and frustrating as well. Both can make us feel hopeless or sad, confused and grasping.

But both situations can also require the same difficult but simple thing – letting go.
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