My 31 day yoga challenge: Day one to five

This January I am taking on a challenge. It’s called Revolution, 31 days of Yoga. It’s a program of at-home yoga ran by Yoga with Adriene, on Youtube. I’ve been following her happy videos for two years now, and even with my sporadic practising, my flexibility and strength improved.

I want now to commit to regular practice for 31 days to see what it can do for me. Yoga helps me unwind and has taught me a lot about meditation and mindfulness, so join me now as I talk about each practice and do my best to defy odds and keep my New Years Resolution.

Revolution day one: Practice Ease: As January 1st isn’t a real day, I began fresh on the 2nd. I wasn’t feeling very fresh though, I felt sick, slow and sluggish- so the slow ease of this practice was just what I needed.

With it being so slow, I found irritation rising in me- wanting to push on quickly with it and feel like I was doing something.

That’s when I realised the entire purpose of this was to take it Sukah. Smooth. I want to do this because I want to, not because I feel like I have to.  I want to create a relationship with exercise that is kind to my body and mind rather than gruelling and punishing.

The first day was gentle, but helped stretch tight limbs, reconnect, take it back to basics. I was amazed at how much controlling the breath can affect your mood.

Revolution day two: Practice Intention:  I got onto the mat on day 2 feeling ready for some sweat. When this practice was quite gentle again, I felt that same old irritation rise. But I pushed it down and stuck to the mantra of intention. It reminds me to stay present, as hard as that is with so much going on in your head.

This practice has laid the groundwork for the next 29 days. I’m more thoughtful when I move and aware of all parts of my body. Even the slightest adjustment to your body can make a stance deeper or more effective- I learnt to ‘move with connect’. This essentially means you use isolated parts of your body to transition. I never knew my core could help me in lunge.

Adriene’s advice to push away from the mat has helped me feel weightless in table top position and plank. There was plenty lizard poses and lunges to set the fire in my limbs, and a boat pose to get my core to wake up.

This practice was relaxing and rewarding after a long day of work and travelling.

Her slow movements are refreshing when you’ve had years of “No pain,no gain” ideals.

Revolution day three: Honor Practice: As I was doing this practice directly after day 2, I was thankful for the opening messages of listening to how you feel each time you come to the yoga mat, that sometimes you will be better than others. 

Improvement isn’t linear, it follows a rhythm according to how we feel each day.

This practice was more challenging than the previous days- I felt a lot of it was spent in plank- but with focus and relaxation I didn’t feel I was forcing anything.

The arm movements and enlarging of the heart space made this a very opening practice.

Revolution day four: PRANA Practice:  On day four I was didn’t really feel like coming to my mat, but once I was on it I was so glad I did. It set a fire in my muscles, and that energy was just needed to perk me up.

The Prana shake was something I never knew of before yoga. I used to take this shake to mean that the stance was working, but also that I was failing, and it was time to give up. Seeing the shake instead as your body waking up and feeling energised, helps you power through.

With a mantra of energy flow, this practice gave me a brilliant core workout that made my stomach ache.

I learnt Kapalabhati pranayama, sharp breathing exercises which require a deep inhale and forceful exhale, then after your next inhale- you exhale sharply with passive inhale, moving your abdomen in.  This was hard to do at first, especially when you thought about it, which shows the importance of moving away from the “thinking mind” which Adriene often mentions.

It worked the core, but I didn’t want anybody to walk in and see me doing it.

The butt exercise   of rotating your raised thigh in a circle whilst on all fours is something I’ve done before. Before, it had a gain muscle background which was focused on just forcing your way through it, whereas this was slow, controlled and much more fulfilling.

During this practice I noticed my body is stronger and the practice went by quicker than previous days, even though I got onto the mat feeling low energy.

I’m still learning about taking things slowly and not rushing through the exercise.

I ended this practice with aching thighs, a slight sweat and the feeling of rushing endorphines.

Revolution day five: Practice Rhythm: Practice five was the silliest. It was about taking control of the practice yourself, listening to your body and breath to move. It was loose and easy, and very suited to runners. It made me feel alive in my free movements that wouldn’t be out of place in contemporary dance.

It was fun and a reminder not to be a yoga robot and just copy moves. Another day, another lesson in the mind body connection.

Keep following this blog for the rest of my yoga journey. 

 

 

 

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