Lessons from My 30-day Yoga Challenge

Junction 9 Yoga Studio November 2017 Letterboard: Outdream Yourself xx

For the month of November, I joined a "30 classes in 30 days" yoga challenge at Junction 9 in Calgary. I originally went to check out this beautiful studio with a friend mid-October and we both bought an intro month pass. Two weeks later, I went back on my own and it happened to be day 1 of the yoga challenge. I've been going to yoga on and off (mostly off...ha!) for more than 10 years but have never attempted a yoga challenge. Usually, I buy a 10 class pass and would take a year to finish it. I've always loved the idea of doing a yoga challenge but always made excuses why I couldn't participate. As soon as I started listing reasons why I couldn't do it in my head this time, I knew it was exactly why I had to do it. Now that the month is done and I've completed the challenge successfully (yay!) I want to share some lessons I learned in the past 30 days about yoga and life in general.

1. It's a practice

I often hear the teachers say in class  "it's called a yoga practice and not yoga perfect." This resonated so much with me because I can't do all the poses perfectly but also realized that there is no such thing as doing all the poses perfectly. Everyone is learning and each time I went to class felt different. Some days I have really good balance, some days I am super wobbly, some days I am more flexible and some days I just need to give my body a break. The important thing is I showed up to class and I tried. Give yourself the permission to try a pose and fall. Applaud yourself for trying. Applaud yourself for succeeding. It's a practice after all.

2. Variety is key

When I used to go to classes sporadically, I tend to choose Flow type classes because I think I get bored easily and I like that you keep moving in Flow. In order to complete the challenge, I ended up going to classes based on what fits around my schedule and tried a variety of classes in the process. I realized quickly how important it is to have variety. Some days, I need to slow down in order to keep going. Some days, I need the challenge of a more intensive class to push myself. Life doesn't work at one speed either so it's ok to take some time to slow down so you can push yourself at full speed when necessary.

3. make time, not excuses 

Just like everyone else, I thought I didn't have the time to yoga every day. I also had serious mom guilt about taking the time for myself to do the challenge. Throughout the month, I went to classes as early as 6 am and some days I leave the studio at 10 pm. I went to some lunchtime classes and sometimes more than one class a day when I knew I didn't have time to go on other days. At one point, my husband said he didn't think the yoga classes have taken time away from our family time at all. It was then I realized I had more time than I thought and that when I prioritize something, it is possible to make time for it.

4. You don't have to. You get to.

Yoga has improved both my mental and physical wellbeing. In one of the classes, the teacher said instead of thinking about all the obligations in life as things you have to do, feel grateful that you get to do them. I've been thinking about this a lot especially on days I want to stay in bed. No matter how good or bad something is, there are always different ways of looking at it. Going to work, shopping for groceries, even having a mortgage and paying for taxes; how lucky are we to be able to do these things? 

5. don't wait until you're ready

To be honest, I wasn't sure if I could do the challenge. Aside from thinking I didn't have time, I am not particularly fit either. I am glad I didn't give it much thought and signed up on an impulse because if I thought I had to be ready before doing the challenge, then I wouldn't have done it. I've been sharing my yoga challenge experience with my clients throughout the month as well. So many people feel reluctant to start their tidying festival because it seems impossible. Even if they start, they may feel discouraged about their progress and how much more to go. Both yoga and KonMari is a journey. Take it day by day without expectations. Celebrate what you've accomplished rather than what you haven't done yet. Some days will be easier than others. Trust the process because if you try to control the outcome too much, it may backfire. Listen to your body and your heart. With enough practice, it will get easier.