In January, I spontaneously decided to join a 30 days of yoga challenge on Yoga with Adriene’s YouTube channel. I needed a workout to kick off the new year and the next challenge I was joining didn’t start until the middle of the month.
I figured the most painful part of allowing the two to overlap would be the timing, but the yoga would probably feel good after the strenuous cardio and weight-lifting. I was right. Some days, the combination of the two took up to an hour and a half. Most days, it was right around 50-60 minutes of exercise, though. My sleep improved with that amount of physical activity.
Breathe Deeply to Feel Renewed
The first week of yoga was exciting. It’d been long enough since I’d done yoga for it to feel fresh and new again. My body desperately needed the stretches (and probably the oxygen from all the deep breaths, if I’m being totally honest). Even my sleep was better.
Admittedly, this one’s really a no-brainer, but it’s easy to forget and the first thing I noticed.
More (Yoga) Is More (Life)
The second week, that excitement started to wane a little, but I could feel the ease of movement coming back to me. I felt younger. Feeling younger made me feel like doing more than work behind a computer. So I got out more. I got more sun, more fresh air, and more quality time with my family. I was more grateful for it all.
Commitment Makes You Feel Powerful
The third week came with another boost of excitement because there was the challenge of sticking to the yoga while also following a six-days-per-week workout plan. It pushed my limits. I did the cardio and/or lifting workout in the morning and sometimes didn’t get a chance for yoga until 10 or 11 at night.
I did it anyway and those whispers of, “I can do this…I can do anything I want to do” came back. It’d been a long time since the voice in my head had said anything like that.
Date Yourself and Be Your Own Hero
I refused to miss my yoga date with myself. I was reminded of how it feels to persevere. To push to complete something other than a deadline. To fight for myself. Because the benefits were there, mentally and physically. I could feel them rolling in during and between all those meetings on my mat with Warrior 1, Warrior 2, Downward-Facing Dog, Mountain Pose, Child’s Pose…
Transformation Sneaks Up on You
By the fourth week, I was a new person and it took me a little while to put the “why” together. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I was unaware that these particular shifts were occurring as they were happening, so I didn’t credit the yoga right away.
It was as if I’d been sleeping for years and finally woke back up, but upon awakening, I remembered I was having an interesting dream I wanted to experience again. I just needed to put the pieces back in order to make sense of it all. The pieces were the movement, the breath, the smell of the new mat I’d purchased for the sake of this practice, the focus, the calm, the determination to finish…and I was the whole picture.
I felt like I’d pulled my mind back from the ether and tucked it safely back into my body, where it belonged. I felt like I was looking at the world through a wash of warm sunlight, not the fog that settled over me a decade ago and wafted in and out of my head since then, never totally dissipating. I had clarity and focus.
I remembered my power as a human being and stopped merely reacting and hiding. I remembered my worth. I moved more easily than I had in years. My chronic headaches had all but disappeared (posture improvements probably helped as much as the relaxation).
Life Gets to Be Easy
Without the headaches and fog, I didn’t have to spend so many hours at the computer to get the same amount of work done. Everything felt easier. I felt unstoppable.
I learned that things that come with rules can still be fun. There’s wiggle room. It’s easy. Do what you can, what feels good to you as an individual, and leave the rest for another day.
Take Your Time
You don’t have to get to the top on the first day. Your first book won’t be written in one day and probably won’t be a bestseller (though it might!). You may not be able to achieve the deepest point of a yoga pose right off the bat, and that is okay. Leave room to strive toward something bigger and better and don’t beat yourself up about not being there today.
Don’t rush. Breathe. It’s okay to take your time. When I’m not regularly practicing yoga, this is a hard lesson to be reminded of. One of the hardest for me, since I tend to try living life like it’s a HIIT workout. Yet, 30 days of yoga managed to sneak it in there somehow and turn it into an easily-accepted truth I didn’t even realize I was re-learning.
“Responsible You” Still Gets to Feel Free
I learned (again) what it feels like to commit to doing something every single day. I was reminded of what it feels like to progress. I’d been stuck in writer-mom-wife limbo for over a decade, stagnant and frustrated. Yoga moved me and freed me in more ways than one.
I learned to set boundaries. This was “my” time to spend on something I had committed to. It was non-negotiable. I need more pockets of time like that. It forced me to stop working, at least for 30 minutes or so, each day, and do something else that wasn’t for somebody else.
It taught me that my mind can be clear again. I can feel at ease in my body. I can trust myself and my intuition—I just need to listen. Even if I can’t be totally still and my surroundings can’t be totally quiet, I can still tune in and be guided.
You’re Never Too Old to Loosen Up
It taught me that aging is a load of crap and that, like with anything, practice can remove some of the tension and resistance around it. There’s the practice of acceptance (I was 35 and not where I wanted to be yet…so what?). And also the practice of letting the literal tension go so I could have fun and enjoy life. Loosen up—again, literally.
30 Days of Yoga Taught Me to Return to Who I Am
All of the lessons above boil down to this: 30 days of yoga helped me return to the “me” I used to be when I was at my best. For so long, I wandered through life, wondering how to get back to that place I was in when I truly loved myself. Back when everything seemed easy even though I had a ridiculous amount on my plate. I was stepping up to challenges and conquering them with confidence. I could talk to anyone and find a connection, but shut things off if I started to feel like a doormat. I trusted myself to make the right decisions and felt in tune with my intuition. Thirty days of yoga taught me how to feel amazing again.