When I was fifteen, my mom made me sign up for a gym membership, hoping to transform me from a sneaking out party-lover to a somewhat healthy and responsible teen. I despised exercise with all my heart so I found the most low-key type on the gym menu - yoga. The condition was that I go twice a week, and so I went.
And it stuck. It wasn't a love at first sight, and it does seem like an arranged marriage, but hey, here I am eight years later adventuring through my fourth 30-day yoga challenge, and absolutely loving it. Thanks mom <3
30-day challenges are awesome though: they taught me so much about myself; they open up channels of acceptance, love and compassion in me; they balance my mood, my life and help me become who I believe I am destined to be - a pretzel.
If you haven't tried, I really hope you consider doing it - you will be amazed what it will do for you. I also want you to be ready for this experience so here are a few tips on loving your own 30-day challenge.
Celebrate your commitment!
And not just in the beginning. The challenge, this act of kindness you are doing for yourself and those around you, really deserves a constant celebration. By celebration I don't mean going out or buying something new (although you are totally welcome to! Reward yourself ;)Just turn your mind to a celebration mode. Imagine a feeling of a Friday night. It's like, yay fireworks, you are doing it!
I know that if I don't put it in my calendar - it won't happen. Every week on Sunday I lay out the schedule of my yoga studio, sit down with my iCal and map out my yoga week.
Do it with a friend. Or not.
I've done two of my challenges alone and two with a friend. Both experiences were enlightening in their own way. Doing it with a friend provides motivation to go, it's easier to get up at 5:30am to go to class for sure. So if your goal is to connect your practice with your day-to-day life, then doing it with a friend is ideal. But if you want to train your commitment muscle and dig very deep into your personal practice then doing it alone is the answer. It all depends on your goals. Speaking of goals...
Usually we associate goals with work, with deliverables and deadlines. Or with something specific and achievable in our personal lives. But play with this one here - there are no rules! It is your challenge and you can have any type of goal your heart desires. It doesn't need to be SMART; it just has to be something you want to feel.If your goal is to have fun, go for it. If it is to build your core strength, or something even more specific like "do a handstand without a wall by the end of the challenge" (my goal) - it is all great. Just focus on how you want to feel at the end.
There are so many class styles, and many studios have different names for the same kind of practice so it does get confusing. But don't let it turn you away from trying - usually instructors provide options and modifications if you need them. Here is a quick reference of classes from the most relaxing to the most intense: restorative/yin -> hatha -> vinyasa/flow -> ashtanga/power/bikram/any hot class.
Track classes you attended.
It is my first time tracking this challenge and I love it. I have a page in my notebook where I dedicate a line per class naming the teacher, the type of practice, the time, location and I also rate my classes. 5 to which I would be back; 3 to which I would be back if it is at convenient time and 1 if hmmm.. it didn't work out for me. The page grows every day, I see my progress and I also can always go back and see which class and instructor I liked.
Feeling exhausted in the middle of your challenge? Yin is here for you. I would describe it as laying on the floor with blankets and bolsters and feeling extremely comfortable but I am sure there is a more spiritual sophisticated yoga definition for it. It is seriously the best. Usually mid-challenge I do yin 3-5 times a week - that's just what I need. Listen to your body.
Go crazy and do a yoga day.
Energized? Do a few classes a day. I love doing a power followed by yin, or 2 flow practices, one in the AM and one in the PM. Make sure to count them all towards your challenge. That's what usually happens mostly in the beginning of the challenge for me - I like feeling like I am ahead of the game. Then it feels so good to...
Sometimes things come up and you have to miss a day. Embrace it :) Guilt should never be a feeling you experience during the challenge. Take extra few days after the challenge to finish it or do a few classes a day. Most importantly - don't ever, ever stress about it.
Yoga challenge is the best opportunity to get back on track with a healthy lifestyle and to develop more healthy habits. Don't forget to eat well, learn some new recipes, drink a lot of tea and water. I love kombucha as a post-yoga drink - bubbles add an element of celebration and we circle back to point one.