Disclaimer: It took me way longer than thirty days and what I learned is that it doesn't really matter.
Why I Decided To Take The Challenge?
Yoga is something I had always considered trying but never had. Basically, I have the opposite of scoliosis. My neck is a little straighter than its supposed to be which causes chronic neck pain. Doctors have always told me that daily stretches would help with this.
Feeling a lack of motivation in my life was the big push I needed to give it a try though. To me, it sounded like the best way to get moving in the morning. I was hoping I could take the energy gained from a little physical activity with me throughout the rest of my day.
Lets be honest too; I wanted that summer bod.
So I guess you could say I took the challenge for a number of reasons. Little did I know the impact it would make.
Yoga With Adriene
I decided to go with Yoga with Adrienne's 30 day series. I think she's great for beginners. She encourages you to take it at your own pace and goes through all the basics still adding in some advanced steps that push you to improve. If her style isn't for you though, I wrote a post about my five favorite YouTube channels for at home yoga that you can check out here. Maybe videos are too distracting for you and you'd rather sign up for classes. Find what style works best for you.
day 1 - day 14
On day one, Adriene speaks about how setting an intention plays a role in yoga being a mind and body practice. She explains setting an intention as bringing your awareness to a word or mantra that you wish to cultivate for your practice both on and off your mat. This wasn't the first time I had heard someone speak about intentions or yoga being a mind and body practice. Even after her explanation though, I still didn't quite understand what it really meant. Regardless, I set and intention. The word/mantra I chose was "dedication". I would be dedicated to completing the 30 Day Challenge in 30 Days and other complete other goals I had set for my self.
And for the first two weeks, I was dedicated to finishing the challenge. Id wake up, go straight to the mat, finish feeling energized, and take that feeling with me throughout the rest of my day. I could feel my poses improving and the soreness in my neck start to fade, and that progress was addictive. It's safe to say I understood what yoga did for the body, but I still wasn't sure why everyone said it was a mind practice as well.
Day 14 - Day 30
Somewhere between day 14 and day 30 my mindset changed. I was no longer determined to finish the challenge in as close to 30 days as possible. Instead, I was looking for and determined to see results. I think the change had to do with the part I told you I never quite understood before then; that yoga was a mind practice.
Every pose and breath in yoga is done deliberately. Each pose targets different and specific muscles; while each breath is taken to ensure you maintain present, strong, and stable in the pose. Maintaining your breath, helps you to push yourself to stay in the pose longer. The longer you hold a pose, the better the results.
I was seeing quick results (my waist slimmed and my arm/leg muscles were getting more defined) when I pushed myself this way and not because I was doing yoga every day or even every other day. I had quit trying to finish the challenge in as close to thirty days as possible. The reason I was practicing wasn't just to finish the challenge. It was to become more motivated, dedicated, stronger, and have less neck pain in the long run.
I tried the same breathing and deliberate motions in my workouts after yoga; always making sure I had the perfect form. It didn't matter how short or long the workout had been, how "easy" or hard someone said it was, or even if I worked out everyday. I would see results as long as I went in with the mindset that I was doing it for reason, and that was to be stronger. Reminding myself of the real reason I was doing it stopped me from rushing through or half assing it. Even if I wasn't dripping sweat, I finished every workout feeling like I had really pushed myself.
And again, in my daily life. Spending the time to reflect on my intention during each practice, made me more aware of the choices I made every day and how they contributed to reaching my goals. It even made me think about why I was even pursuing the goals I had set in the first place. I found myself start to take more deliberate, intentional, purposeful steps towards each goal, each day. EMPOWERED was the result. This blog is one goal that became reality in those thirty days.
My BIggest Takeaway
Like I said, every motion and breath in yoga is done deliberately, or in other words, on purpose and for a reason. In life, we get so focused and determined on just completing the task at hand each hour, day, week, and year. We begin to forget why were even doing what were doing in the first place.
When I got on the mat, I was forced to think deliberately, not just about my poses and breath, but about my intention of reaching my goals too. I saw quick results with yoga because of the fact that it forced me think deliberately. Once I started my day thinking that way, I would continue to, seeing quick results in other aspects of my life too.
Maybe it all sounds crazy. Like I said, it was the mind practice part that I never quite understood till I took this challenge. Maybe it won't make sense until you take the challenge either. So, Im challenging you now. You never know what you'll take away from it. I thought my biggest takeaway would just be being more in shape, losing the neck pain, and becoming more motivated (which did happen). But, I would've never guessed that I would've found a whole new way of thinking about my goals.