It’s January the 17th and I’m still sticking to daily yoga – this is the first regular exercise and new years resolution that I’ve stuck to. May have to defy all of my own moral ideals and throw the phrase “new year new me” out there.
I have to place a small part of reason on having a yoga mat- it’s amazing how much easier it is to roll around in different yoga positions when you’re not on some hard, scratchy carpet or slippy blanket. So Sian’s tip numero uno of how to get into yoga: invest in a mat.
Numero Dos would be to simply get through those first five days. Once I did that, I found that I really wanted to do my yoga; it has become part of my routine and it doesn’t feel right to miss a day (even though I admittedly had to play catch up occasionally, but I blame university deadlines). I now crave the practice! Which is odd for a serial exercise-phobe like me.
So, to continue with my experiences of this 31 day yoga challenge Revolution with Adriene, and to answer the question of whether yoga is really worth the hype, I kept a nice little journal of my feelings after each practice for the last nine days. Enjoy the (slightly edited) transcript of my daily musings.
Yoga Revolution Day Six- Attention (and abs) Practice:
Today was my favourite practice so far. I feel in a sleep-like relaxed trance despite the fact that this practice was the hardest. A bit like that spaced out buzz you get from those first couple of pints on an empty stomach. Before coming to the mat I felt tired, and I wanted to just not bother, but, once again, I was grateful I did. Hardly any time into the video my arms were aching.
Rather than collapse into a defeated heap, like I usually want to when doing ‘real’ exercise, I powered through and realised I felt fine. Adriene spoke a lot about caring for the back during yoga. This reminded me of the olden days of my slightly pathetic attempts at doing fitness videos in my room, a lot of the movements actually put on a lot of strain on the back to GET FIT AND MUSCLE INTO IT. Simple things, like beginning at the tailbone when curling up into bridge pose can make a difference.
She went on to say how ideals of fitness and the body take away so much of the goodness of yoga. I may sound a bit hippy-dippy la la but, whilst you don’t expect a life lesson from a yoga video, it’s very true. Commit yourself to the practice and you will notice a spiritual connection and almost meditative relaxation- honestly.
I was frustrated that my heels don’t touch the ground in down dog and I was shaking like a tree in a gale force wind when I was in side plank.
I have had a miraculous learning curve towards crunches. I always used to strain my neck but I wasn’t really sure why. Yoga with Adriene has taught me to keep it straight, lift with the heart (or chest for you yoga novices), look upwards and do smaller, slower lifts. Can really feel it in the ol’ muscles without any of the neck strain.
This practice was true to its name, as I started to pay more attention to my body movements and my abs sure felt the burn.
Yoga Revolution Day Seven – Stability Practice
Began this day’s entry with “Christ I’m really falling into this meditation at the end of practices.” End feeling relaxed, fresh and sleepy all at once. This practice was all about balance. As I skipped that whole ballet and gymnastics phase, I’m not overly confident in that.
After thinking about ten minutes had passed, spent in knocking on heaven’s door, mountain pose, warrior two, triangle pose, tree pose and cobbler pose, Adriene signalled that we would end in Savasana and I moved my mouse pad and realised 30 minutes had gone by.
I may not have mentioned it but I don’t exercise regularly, so actually losing track of time when moving my body was a shock.
This practice was more an exercise in mindfulness rather than an exercise- I was too busy concentrating hard on my posture, strength and balance to think about other worries. There was also a focus on concentrating on “opposing forces”- which is essentially pushing different body parts in different directions, but the grounding and lifting helps you see your body differently.
Yoga Revolution Day Eight – Serenity Practice
Sightly ashamed to admit this to the whole of the internet- but this practice made me cry just a little bit. A look at the Youtube comments confirmed that I wasn’t the only one- there was just something about the serenity and softness of this day, that made crying a bit like a release. It was utterly refreshing and these phrases were apparently important enough to note in my diary-
“Yoga is about coming to the mat for you”
“Taking time on the mat will help you elsewhere in your life.”
The footrub felt less gross than I would imagine, and this day was a lot about marrying yoga practice and yoga philosophy.
Yoga Revolution Day Nine – Empower Practice
I didn’t have to convince myself to get onto the mat today, I feel like something has changed. I now really look forward to having that time for myself. I’m feeling different in normal life too, I spent the day doing work and actually felt focused, not bored and distracted, panicky or flitting between tasks. I’m also sitting up straighter and after eating healthier I was ready for some EMPOWERING. I broke out a nice glow (sweat) and lunges, three legged dog poses and squats got me feeling powerful. I tried crow pose but fell, straight on my face. Win some you lose some.
Yoga Revolution Day Ten – Thoughtfulness Practice
I would refer to this practice as learning to be present. There’s a temptation to feel bored and unfulfilled, but I knew it was building on the basics and working on my dreadful attention span. Also a lesson in how breathing is pretty important in yoga and semi hard to master.
Yoga Revolution Day Eleven – Align Practice
Balance has improved. Each day I feel I crave the practice more and more. At this point, repetition of how to align yourself properly- small things like pulling your hips back, placing our hands under your shoulders in plank.. it all helps.
Yoga Revolution Day Twelve – In Sync Practice
Today was all about matching the body movement with the breath, which is harder than it sounds. I’m being told to think about the ‘now’, but I’m just getting a frustrated that I can’t regulate my breath. Why is she slower at breathing than me? Damn my stupid small lungs. This make the sun salutations a bit annoying when I can’t seem to match the breath, but those rare moments, when you do; it feels hella good. When I get to tree pose I notice again how my balance has improved, if more on my left leg than right, but it feels gooood with a few extra o’s. With a swift bit of core to end, I feel grounded and strong.
Yoga Revolution Day Thirteen – Practice Opening
This was a more challenging practice than I expected. It meant I noticed how I’m slightly stronger – I didn’t shake like crazy in side plank. Feeling open in the hips and shoulders is more therapeutic than you would imagine.
Yoga Revolution Day Fourteen – Forgiveness Practice
I had just handed in all of my coursework, so the soft rolling around nature of this practice was ideal. The message was self-care, self-love. Very useful when uni work is making you feel a bit crazy. A lot of today was spent with my head bent over, which felt forgiving.
Child pose is the best to get into if you’re needing a bit of TLC.
Yoga Revolution Day Fifteen – Fearless Practice
My legs ached today. When, half way through, Adriene asked what our bodies are telling us, all I could think was “that it’s tired.” Then I realised I need to be all positive and mindful. Changed it to- my body is being worked, which means it’s changing and gaining strength.
This was a lot of leg work- lunges, one-legged splits, chairs…
My thighs were screaming but I stuck to it and it felt grand. It amazes me how, every time I do yoga, the headache/mind fog clears.
The best part? I stayed in crow pose for a solid five seconds. I felt like a yogic pro. Balanced, strong and focused. Not sure if I’m imagining it but I feel my body might be changing.
Want to try this challenge for yourself? Begin here.