30 Days of Yoga | I Did It!
Ya'll know that I've struggled to get on my yoga mat since having a child. I've mentioned it a handful times in blog posts and on social media. At the end of December, I rolled out my mat and tried to flow and felt humbled. Not just with my inability to move like I used to, but with the mental resistance I was experiencing. Why did I let this go? Why did I stop prioritizing myself? After I got to know yoga and developed a regular practice almost 10 years ago, it quickly became a major part of my life. It changed my physical body first, which admittedly is initially what kept me coming back, but the mental and emotional growth I experienced was an unexpected benefit that made my desire shift from wanting to get on my mat to needing to get on my mat. It was my place of strength and a place I could let go of whatever heaviness I was carrying.
I knew when I rolled up my at after that dreary practice at end of 2017 that I needed to re-establish my love for yoga. This time I "meant it". So many times I had intended to make a regular practice a reality but had gotten distracted, fallen off, and in my feelings of defeat, decided I'd just "do it later". I decided a 30 Day Yoga Challenge would keep me accountable. There was both a start and an end date and someone would be telling me what to do. Reality: I don't have the brain space to craft my own yoga practice day after day. I shared the idea with my husband (aka my accountability partner), I printed off the entire month's plan, stuck it to my fridge, and decided to give it a go. Here's what happened:
I felt weak but got stronger.
The very first practice, from Downward Facing Dog we had to lift our knees and keep our shins parallel to the mat while hovering them a couple inches from the ground. I immediately started to shake. Hello, abdominals. I thought - oh god, I'm in for it. I struggled the first couple weeks, with holding simple shapes like Warrior II. About halfway through the month, my muscle memory kicked in and the poses started to feel more familiar. By the end of the series as we revisited that killer down-dog variation, I felt like I could have stayed for several more breaths. Progress! From head to toe, I feel more toned overall. A lot of yoga instructors will tell you - this isn't the goal. I know it's not, and I know all about how there's more to it than what happens in the physical body, but I'll be frank: it feels really damn good to have my strength back.
I accomplished a goal and had more energy.
This is a really big deal. I am beyond proud of myself for setting my sights on practicing yoga everyday in January and actually doing it. There were plenty of days I didn't want to. During June's nap, I typically enjoy sweet nothingness: lunch, couching it, maybe a little Netflix if I'm feeling fancy. I'm an introvert at heart, and the act of doing nothing is often what I fall back on. Deciding to practice yoga every day meant devoting a portion of the only hour I have to myself to getting on my mat. Turns out, doing nothing in the middle of the day can sometimes make me feel lazy and contribute to looooong winter afternoons with a crazy toddler. Getting my blood moving mid-day gave me the boost I needed to put in a little more effort in playing with my daughter throughout the second half of the day.
I found my practice again.
Now that I know and feel what it's like to have my yoga practice coursing through my veins again, I know how I want to feel as I move through the rest of this year and beyond. Will I practice every single day? No. If you follow me on social media, you'll know that I don't have the luxury of a zen yoga space or even the opportunity to always practice alone. When you're a stay at home mom of a busy toddler, sometimes life happens and things come up. I've used this as an excuse so far and in accomplishing 30 days of yoga, I have proven to myself that it is possible to be a SAHM and have a regular yoga practice. It might not be glamorous or perfect, but I gave those things up long ago.
Have you ever done a 30 Day exercise challenge? I'm inspired to keep it going: My goal is 4 days a week all year long. I promise to share my successes and setbacks as I go. Join me?