I love yoga – I’ve done it now, on and off, for the past eight or nine years. I remember one of the first times I practised; it was with my college roommates. We had a Monday night appointment to put our mats out on the floor of our living room, and the $20 yoga DVD we had all pitched in (ah, college students) to purchase was put into the DVD player. We then proceeded to laugh, fall over and grunt our way through the next hour.
I don’t remember how long that tradition lasted for, but it was a ton of fun, and that is something to remember throughout the rest of your life when doing yoga: it can be fun!I look around in class sometimes and notice that people seem to be taking it so seriously. I’m one of them! If it’s in the middle of an intense class like a hot or power class, I can be as concentrated and solemn looking as everyone else. I can’t help it, it’s just my “focusing face”. But once I’m done I’m all smiles and laughter about it, and that took a while to come.
I used to beat myself up if I went to, for example, a hot class and fell out of my dancer’s pose three times having done it perfectly in a class a couple of weeks prior. Then I learned that yoga is like that (as is life). Sometimes you’re going to have great days and sometimes you will have not so great days and learning that has been the most freeing thing of all – knowing that keeps me coming back. Because the quickest thing that stops me working out is feeling a lack of progress or feeling like I’m not getting better.
When I realized it wasn’t about getting better (well, not in the quantifiable ways we usually think of when measuring improvement), I felt so much better about the practice. And I looked at myself more holistically. If I had an off day in class was it just my mood? What was going on in my head? Was it that I didn’t drink enough water the day before? Get enough sleep? Or was it just one of those days? If so, I had to just try and shake it off and wait till the next time I hit the mat.
I go to YYoga, a chain of yoga studios in Vancouver, and they occasionally put on 30 day challenges, where they challenge you to sign up and complete 30 classes in 30 days. I signed up for this from August 2-31st this year and completed it as of yesterday! Tonight I will go for another class and it will actually be my 31st class in 30 days :). This consisted of 8 yin classes, 3 Yin:Yang classes, 10 hot classes, 2 flow classes,1 restorative class and 7 Pilates/core classes.
All of these lessons I’ve learned from yoga have either been taught to me or were reinforced by this challenge. The best part of it has been cultivating a daily habit to get on my mat. There were three instances where I couldn’t make class one day so I doubled up classes on the day prior. I didn’t mind doubling up at all, I tended to do it by pairing a more active class such as hot yoga with a more relaxing class like yin yoga. What I minded was the day I didn’t go to class. I really felt it! I felt stiffer, I felt less relaxed in my mood, I felt like something was missing.
Realizing that I was going to class because I wanted to each day, rather than feeling like I had to, was a huge change in motivation. Realizing that I felt better having gone to class was huge. Yes I lost a couple of inches doing the challenge (you could probably lose a lot more if you were dieting and really trying, which I wasn’t) but the payoff was way more in my sleep (so much better!), my mood (much more stable and much calmer) and the fact that I have now created a habit that will serve me and my health for many years to come. I want to be one of those 70 year olds doing yoga on a beach somewhere! Bring it!
For more information about YYoga and its 30 Day Challenge, go to the YYoga website at www.yyoga.ca.