Forward Folding and Downward Dogging My Way Through a 30 Day Yoga Challenge

I couldn’t touch my toes at the beginning of this year. Okay, maybe I could if I tried really hard, but I was not very flexible at all. I was also out of shape.  In January I wasn’t working out, I wasn’t playing any sports, and was spending most days sleeping in until 11. Since then, well, things have changed a little.

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Yesterday, I completed a 30 Day Yoga Challenge at YYoga. The challenge, free of charge to all members (we’ll get to how I got to that status in a second) was to complete thirty classes in April AKA thirty days. I wanted to blog as I went along and post weekly updates (how I wanted to never look at a mat again during week 2), talking about different positions I was trying and falling out of (Warrior 3 left side: I hate you) and all the funny words and sayings I was hearing at the studio (relax your tongue and your throat).

However, to complete this challenge I had to spend the majority of April upside down.

But let’s start at the beginning.

How did my bacon loving, no exercise, very, very low attention span self get into this? Well, I blame my better half, my roommate, Maria. She works out, eats healthy and enjoys a pretty healthy lifestyle. She had a 30 day unlimited pass at Yyoga in February and one day instead of proceeding to live my sloth inspired lifestyle I decided to go with her.

That’s when it all began.

When I arrived they told me that it cost $20 for one class or do an introductory month which included unlimited classes for only $40. Kfine. It made sense and I would only have to go ONE MORE TIME to make it economically sound.

Did I love my first class? No. I didn’t love it. The teacher kept telling me to close my third eye and then we had to do headstand/splits up against a wall. Yes, there were modifications and I took every one of them but it was still a bit much. I left the class asking myself what the hell I had just done. The best thing was when I woke up the next day my back didn’t hurt. I walked to work with no pain and I also slept better. I started to buy in to this yoga idea.

So I went back to the studio the next day. And the next. I found a teacher, Elke- a former dancer, that I loved and I started going to her power and flow classes. I didn’t even know there were two different types of classes. There are actually many, many different types. Who knew?! Some teachers even play chill deep house during their classes. I liked it and I felt great. I caved and bought a bright blue mat I had had my eye on and a white bag for it. My mat started to go wherever I went.

Then at the start of April, the studio announced it would hold a 30 day challenge. I never completed something like this, so I thought why not? It will only save me money and help my practice.

So I went. I went after work, before work, in-between work, on Sundays, nights and I even did back to back classes to make sure I stayed on track to complete the challenge. Some days sucked. Some days it was all I could do to get past the first 10 minutes of class- but after that I was usually into it. I started going to bed early and eating better food. I figured if I was to do this much good work for my body I should probably cut out at least half the bacon, scones and croissants in my life. I miss the croissants so much. I still drink more Diet Coke than water but I’m working on that too.

I was told to reach my heart forward, puff my back, and  keep my back leg strong countless times. I still don’t think I’m close to an intermediate level, but I can almost hold Crow, I’ve been working towards a steadier Sleeping Eagle flow to Half Moon pose, and I can almost do a cross body leg/arm hold thing. I’ve learned to be a little more patient with myself and with others (which was definitely needed). I’m proud of my little accomplishments and the progress I have seen. I feel stronger so at least we know it’s working, right?

Looking forward is something they say a lot in practice. They tell you to look forward on practically all balance poses, you’re told to look forward and bend your knees to move from downward dog to a full fold position, and once again, when entering handstand (also on the list of poses I’m working on) we’re told to look ahead and I think that is what this month of yoga has taught me the most. It is important to live in the present, but also to take everyday in strides, to look ahead and not dwell on decisions and actions you cannot change. I’ve met new friends and really enjoy being a part of the community at Y.

As summer approaches I can’t promise I will be on my mat quite as frequently (hello, there are patios to be sat on!), but I will keep up with my practice and remember to always look ahead.

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