30 Days of Yoga – Bending, Bumbling, and Breathing

Winter is coming. Or rather, fall is in the air, and like the changing season I wanted to make a change in my life. When it comes to fitness, I try to stay active most days of the week. I take 2-mile walks at work during lunch time, and occasionally run when the weather permits (AKA when the temperature isn’t “oh god why,” or when Thor isn’t having a hissy fit). If I’m feeling really ambitious, I’ll head to the gym and “pick things up and put them down,” but I needed something more. I felt like an autumn leaf on the wind – moving, but not really going anywhere. #sodeep

I needed a change. I wanted to be excited about exercise. I wanted to find something that I could stick with and wouldn’t dread doing every other day. Running and I have had an on again, off again relationship that could rival any soap opera couple (damn you, Victor!). I liked it well enough, but I wasn’t IN love with it. #itsnotyouitsme

CVS Health Downtown 5K Race 2016
We may be smiling on the outside, but our insides are crying!

I had always wanted to incorporate yoga into my daily routine, so I decided to take the plunge. Luckily, I wasn’t a complete stranger to the practice so it wasn’t such a…stretch. #punished I used to do Pilates which incorporates a lot of fast yoga-like moves, and I even went to a yoga class at a brewery where beer was the reward! Now THAT’S motivation. However, I wanted to stick with it and see why so many people were becoming yogis.

I decided to try “Yoga with Adriene” on YouTube, and discovered her 30 days of yoga videos. This series is meant to ease you into the practice, and I was immediately hooked. They fall anywhere between 15 to 35 minutes in length, and I often added on one of her other videos to make my sessions at least 30 to 45 minutes long. If I had the time, I would aim for 50 minutes to an hour total. The difficulty of each video ranged from “easy breezy” to “I’m sweating so much that it’s raining me!” They have a nice balance of flexibility and strength with a focus on the importance of the breath. Adriene really tries to give you the tools to help you grow your own practice, and encourages viewers to not just become “yoga robots” as she likes to say.

I’ll confess that I missed several days during this 30-day challenge. Sometimes life happens and it’s okay. Yet, as the challenge progressed, I could slowly feel myself begin to change.

Day 1 to 5

The beginning was difficult. Period. “Wobbly” and “stiff” were my two main poses, and I was their master. I could barely even cross my legs to sit down (plus having weak ankles made it fun on the bun). However, by the end of day 5 I noticed that my downward-facing dogs and planks were getting just a teeny bit easier (although my flexibility range was more like a plank of wood…wood’nt you guess it). #punished

Gretel wants to do yoga
Gretel wants to do yoga, too. What a cat-astrophy.

Day 6 to 10

I could finally cross my legs like a kindergartener without ankle pain! Hallelujah! I found that my vinyasas were getting just a tad easier as well. We’d flow from chaturanga (think of it as a low push-up) to upward-facing dog to downward-facing dog. It’s a tough flow, but I wasn’t struggling as much like I did on day 1.

Day 10 to 20

I found myself craving the mat once I got home from work. I wanted to let go of the day and just let all of the stress melt away. I was looking forward to my yoga sessions with Adriene, even if she wasn’t technically in the room with me. Her quirky humor and “less-serious-but-still-serious” lessons really worked for me. I wasn’t just craving the physical exercise, but sought out the mental benefits that came with each session. I felt mentally and physically lighter.

Day 20 to 25

I could now miraculously do 4 full push ups! I know I know, it’s a tiny number compared to a lot of people. HOWEVER I haven’t been able to do proper push ups since high school, and you know what they say: “Comparison is the thief of joy.” I could finally reach the low push ups to vinyasas as well! But, if I had to repeat them over and over during a practice, my arms would throw a full-scale rebellion and wouldn’t cooperate. #heavilyarmed

Day 26 to 30

I had moved my yoga practice to the mornings due to evening obligations, and found that I enjoyed starting my day off on the mat. Sure, I had to get up at the butt crack of dawn (“who dare disturb my slumber”), but I found myself becoming more mindful throughout the day. I was more aware of what I was eating and how my body was feeling. It was very subtle and almost an unnoticeable change, but I felt better because of it.

Beyond day 30

After the 30 day challenge was up, I reflected on where I started and why. I went from barely being able to touch my toes, to touching the floor while I was “cold” (as in, not exercising beforehand to warm up). My heels can almost touch the floor while in downward-facing dog, and I could hold my planks far longer than I thought I was capable of. But most importantly, I had found that thing I had been craving, and it wasn’t an apple cider donut! Mmmm…donuts.

Hansel and Gretel are natural yogis
Hansel and Gretel are naturals, and put me to shame.

Yoga doesn’t feel like a chore, and I look forward to the when I can practice. Have there been bad days? Of course. However, I know that I’ll come off of the mat feeling better than when I started. I’ll continue to make yoga a part of my life, and might even suck Mike into it while I’m at it. Muhahahaha!

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