You may have heard me waxing poetic about yoga lately. That’s because me and yoga got it going on right now. After years of having a very sporadic relationship with yoga (See “Yoga and Me: a love story (part 1) I decided to give it another concerted effort in the form of a 30-day self challenge this past January and I gotta say, me and yoga are digging each other.
When you work in the wellness arena, yoga is a constant. It’s not just the physical practice of yoga, it’s also the spiritual practice and what I think of as the “smoothie practice” since apparently yoga and smoothies go together like PB& J. All that to say that between my work, my social media feeds and the simple fact of living on the west coast, yoga seems to always be wooing me.
I started my challenge on December 29 by doing some classes through Class Pass which is a great app that allows you to sample a huge variety of different fitness classes in your area. I put my membership put on hold after I joined my yoga studio but highly recommend it for anyone who is looking to mix up their fitness routine. I already had an idea that I would do this 30-day thing but hadn’t yet settled on where or how to do it. I first heard about Bala Yoga from The Riveter (a co-working space where I’ve been hanging out for the last several months). They have a great partnership deal with Bala and were offering some free class coupons. Then my friend began a teacher training program there which sounded awesome, and finally, Bala has a killer intro deal of 30 days for $40 - all of which led me to interpret this as 3 signs from the Universe pointing me in the direction to go for it. So I went for it.
Anyhoo, I took my first Bala class on January 1 and fell for them hard and fast. My instructor was Audrey and it was a Yin Yoga class. My notes for that day were “candles, intention cards, packed class, super chill, loved it.” I started writing down little blurbs about each class as I made my way through the Bala schedule and they included things like “really challenging but great. Side crow - lol” and “So hard and so good! Sweated up a storm. Great pace,” so that I would have a clear memory of what worked and what didn’t. There were a few classes where my mind wandered (as minds tend to do) and then the additional challenge became not to judge myself and to let go of whatever I “brought to the mat with me.” In case you’re wondering, that’s yoga speak for surrendering the b.s. that’s keeping you from being present.
There were some days that I couldn’t realistically make it to the studio. My solution was to check out yogaglo for some online yoga. I was skeptical at first, figuring that it would pale in comparison to my live experience but it turned out to be a great compromise. The classes range in level, length and specific focus and because I felt committed to my challenge I had no problem doing some classes at home.
All in all I ended up doing yoga 26 out of 31 days. Of the 5 days I skipped it, one was a travel day, 2 were sick days and on the other 2 I was resting my lower back which was squawking at me after so much unaccustomed upward facing dog action.
Bottom line: I freaking loved my 30-day yoga experiment. Even though I’ve done yoga in the past (including a long term thing with weekly Restorative class in my neighborhood until the class time changed and the teacher left) I’ve never practiced it this regularly, and most importantly I have never practiced it so free of self-judgement. As a coach I regularly teach clients about the importance and benefits of self compassion. I try and practice what I preach as much as possible but as it turns out, I have not always been very nice to myself on the yoga mat in the past. It feels different this time. Perhaps it was because I’ve started deepening that neural pathway for self kindness or maybe because as I get older I don’t really give a shit what people think of my imperfect chair pose or my wobbly vrkassana (tree pose). Either way I am finding that my attitude is open, curious and most of all, forgiving of myself when I am in class.
I also loved trying on something new for 30 days and seeing how it fit. It’s one of the best ways to develop new habits. Gretchen Rubin talked about this in depth in her book “The Happiness Project” which I was reminded of mid-way through my yoga experiment. It made me think about other 30-day or monthly challenges I could test drive this year. I believe the key to success is keeping it super simple and super specific which I talked about in the beginning of the year. I’m already plotting my year and making a list of monthly challenges for myself going forward. The goal is to keep it light, fun and do-able. I am currently challenging myself to start each day with 20 oz of water before my morning matcha and to try oil pulling (an Ayurvedic technique which helps detoxify the body and can make your teeth whiter!) every day. I’ll let you know how it goes. And if you have any ideas for more 30-day challenges for me, post them in the comments. I'm totally open to ideas!