Healthy LivingMonthly Challenges

Yoga – Cultivating A Daily Practice

I really enjoy yoga, but I have always been sporadic with my yoga practice. For a long time I have wanted to incorporate yoga more into my life, to make it part of every day.

Yoga every day
Practising my tree pose

So when I saw Adriene, whose yoga lessons I have been doing on YouTube already, was doing a 30 day challenge in January, I jumped at the chance to start the new year with a daily yoga practice.

I won’t give you a day by day breakdown of the programme. Instead, I want to highlight the physical and mental benefits of my daily yoga practice.

And one unexpected benefit, too.

After Two Days of Yoga

The challenge began on the second of January which was better than the first since I was rather hangover on New Year’s Day.

But on the second I woke up fresh and ready to get on the mat. And the same happened on the third. I know it had only been two days, but I was proud of myself. I had begun my yoga journey.

Physically I didn’t feel any different, but then I didn’t really expect to just after two days. My wrists got a little achy when holding the downward-facing dog, but otherwise the early sessions were reasonably easy.

Thank you, Adriene, for thinking of the non-regular yogis and giving us a soft start.

After One Week

Steady now 😁

When I turned up on the mat on day seven, I felt so proud I wanted to high five myself. I have completed my first full week of daily yoga lessons.

When Monday arrived, I worried whether I’d make it to the mat since Monday meant returning to work after two-and-a-half weeks off for Christmas. I was starting at a new school and in lockdown, so thoughts of work preoccupied my mind.

I was knackered when I got home from work. New school and online teaching (by the way – much improved from lockdown one) were a lot to take in. And it probably didn’t help that I walked to school and back – a round trip of 15 kilometres. All I wanted to do was to curl up on the sofa and chill. With a beer – but obviously that was out of the question since I went dry for January.

So since beer was off the menu, I rolled out the yoga mat. I also knew that if I skipped today, it would be too easy to skip again and again.

Turning up on the mat that day was the best thing I could have done.

It gave me a welcome distraction from thinking about work. It was a perfect moment of calm amidst the lockdown madness. After that, the rest of the week was easy. And always a pleasure.

And just for a bit of fun, here’s a short, speeded up video of me doing yoga. My practice and asanas (postures) are still FAR from perfect.

Yoga time has become my time. Time when I can switch everything else off: work, lockdown, covid numbers, the lot.

I have also noticed some physical changes. My wrists don’t hurt anymore in down dog, and I can hold plank position for longer. I feel more flexible, and the sessions are helping to ease the joint pains I have following the cancer treatments.

There’s also a difference, albeit small, to my weight and waist size. So far I have lost 1,8cm around my waist and I’m a kilogram lighter on the scales. Happy days.

I’m full of positivity and rearing to continue with week two.

Day 15 – Halfway Point of Yoga Challenge

Yay, I have made it halfway without skipping a day. At the start of the month, I made a commitment to turn up on that yoga mat every day and I have done it.

Dancer posa in yoga
The dancer pose is definitely not there yet.

There have been a couple of days (like when I got home from work soaked to the bone on my bike) when I almost skipped the practice. But I didn’t because I knew I would feel better after my time on the mat. And most days I really look forward to my yoga time.

It helps that many of the sessions are under 30 minutes. Especially on work days when you have less spare time. Sometimes, on my days off, I do a double session, especially if I have spent a long time writing on the laptop.

After fifteen days I feel a lot more flexible and I’m even growing to like the one-legged pigeon pose which I used to hate. The extended version, not the one where you grab one leg and bent backwards. I’m still working towards that.

I have lost little more weight, about 1/2 kilogram, and I have lost another 1.2cm from the waist. Any weight or centimetres lost, is a bonus. I didn’t embark on the challenge for those reasons, but to build a daily practice with long term mental and physical benefits.

Every End Is A New Beginning

I have reached the end of my yoga journey, and I have loved it. I’m so proud of myself for getting through the whole programme without skipping a single day.

There have definitely been physical benefits to sticking with the daily yoga practice. I’m more flexible and have built strength in arms, legs and core. I have lost 4cm of my waist and close to 3kg.

Although, going dry for January probably helped with the weight loss, too.

But more than the physical benefits, I was looking forward to the mental benefits of the daily practice. I feel more grounded after a month of daily yoga, and I also feel more dedicated. Not just to yoga, but in other areas of life, too, especially to my writing.

I have proved to myself that I have the determination to complete demanding journeys. Both on and off the mat.

Namaste

What next?

I’ve enjoyed the daily yoga practice so much that I have started another 30 day programme. Luckily, Yoga with Adriene has plenty of those as well as standalone sessions.

Completing the yoga challenge successfully also sparked the idea to go for RED (run every day) in February. Or maybe the lockdowns have set a screw loose. Either way, I will let you know in a month’s time how the running challenge went.

There has also been one accidental benefit to the yoga journey. At the beginning of it, I decided to write a haiku for each day of yoga. I now have written 30 haikus, and I’d like to share the final one with you.

 

Begin

What is an ending
If not the start of something
New and amazing

Thank you for being here and reading the post. 

Until next time!

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