As of now, my personal challenges have all centered around finances and curbing my shopping habits. Recently, I’ve been thinking about habits in other areas of my life, and I decided that I’d like to focus on developing a habit rather than breaking one. I think that dedication to a physical practice will permeate other areas and help me make more mindful and measured choices, whether that has to do with finances, nourishment, or anything else that helps me take care of myself from the inside out.
Yoga has been a part of my life for a long time now, almost fifteen years. I first discovered yoga in high school when I was fifteen or sixteen years old. Since then I’ve been practicing off and on, from going to classes diligently to doing five minutes alone in my room. I’d go from practicing every day, or going to classes a few times a week to not stepping on to my mat for months, only to return to it slowly on my own. Every time I leave it, for however long, I come back to it because I remember how much it improves my mood, my body, and my mental health. Over the last year I have started my own little yoga routine. I often would do a bit of slow yoga flow followed by meditation before going to bed. I found that this really improved my sleep.
The issue that I’ve come up against in all areas of my life that require practice, whether it’s maintaining an exercise routine, practicing music, or writing, my greatest hurdle is consistency. I have a hard time doing something every day for an extended period of time. As soon as my motivation wanes or my mood drops, my healthy habits drop off as well. I know that I am not unique in this respect, and I also know that doing something every day isn’t necessarily the bench mark of a successful practice. Success is coming back to your practice after you drop it; whether that takes five days, five weeks, or five months. The goal is to shorten the time between when you drop something and when you pick it back up again. It’s been a few weeks that I’ve let my yoga and meditation practice drop off and I am ready to challenge myself to be consistent.
I will commit to practicing yoga everyday for 30 days starting from Sunday Oct. 14th to Monday Nov. 13th. I don’t want to set too many perimeters around how or when I practice because the goal simply is to practice every day. I don’t want to set a specific amount of time as I tend to like to do my own thing whether it’s a series of sun salutations in the morning to wake up my body and mind, or long, slow stretches to wind down at night. My goal is to practice right in the morning as I believe it will set me up for a healthier, productive day, however, I know that some days I will prefer an evening practice, so I am not tied to always practicing at a certain time of day. I am also not setting a certain amount of time to practice because if I say I’ll only do five minutes a day, that will feel so feeble to my ego, and if I say 30 minutes or 40 minutes, I know I will likely talk myself out of it. The goal is just to practice. I know some days it will just be five minutes before bed, and other days it will be a 30 or 40 minute work out.
What am I hoping to achieve?
Simply put, this challenge is not really even about yoga per se; the real challenge is consistency. There are other habits that I am trying to establish right now in my own creative work, and I am using this yoga challenge as a means of showing myself that I can do something consistently. That being said, through yoga I am hoping to improve the flexibility and strength of my body and my mind. In terms of flexibility and strength of mind, I know that coming to the mat every day will be strengthening my will. Beyond that, I’d like to challenge myself to stay in poses longer than is comfortable. For me and I’m sure most people, pushing myself is a mental game over a physical game – my body can do much more than my mind allows it. I’d like to push myself to hold those poses longer, to stretch a little deeper and to maintain focus even when I am distracted. I’d also like to challenge my mind by practicing self-compassion through withholding judgment when I fall out of postures, lose focus, or have less strength some days, which is inevitable. In terms of physical achievements, I am hoping to gain more strength and tone the muscles in my arms (triceps), legs (quads) and my abs. I’m hoping that regular practice will help to improve my posture. Since I sit at a computer or a piano most days I am hoping that the strength I develop, paired with more body awareness, will help me to sit up straighter, stand up taller, and walk a little lighter. I’m not tied to any of these physical results because they are not the impetus for this 30 day challenge, but it would be a cherry on top of the sundae.
I will update you after I’ve completed the 30 days, and let you know how it went – whether or not I was able to stick to the practice for all thirty days and if not, how I got back into it. I would love it if you joined me on this challenge; we can be accountability partners! Please comment below and let me know if you’d like to do this 30 Day Yoga Challenge or if you are committing to a different kind of practice whether that’s running, writing, meditating, or anything else you’re working on developing in your daily life.