What I learned from a month of daily yoga

yoga mountain pose

There are two people I need to thank at the very start of this post. The first, is the incredible Cassey Toi. She invited me to a yoga challenge at the end of last year, a month of daily yoga for January of 2017. I was honestly skeptical – I’ve never been able to stick with yoga, it has never gelled for me, and I didn’t know if I would like the woman making this series of videos. But I said yes, and I feel like my life is forever changed as a result. So first things first, hugest of thanks to Cassey for inviting me to join the #YogaRevolution – I never would have done it without you.

The second person I need to thank doesn’t know me and will probably never read this blog. But Adrienne’s series, Yoga Revolution, has helped to reshape my body and mind. Her emails were warm and inviting, filled with the deepest insights paired with the worst musical theater jokes. Her videos were the same, and exactly what I needed for each day of the journey. I have learned so much by doing yoga every day, and it’s a daily practice that I plan to continue for the foreseeable future. But why am I so grateful to these ladies? Well, my body and mind have changed so much in the past month, and it’s mainly thanks to the things I’ve learned with yoga. Here are just some of those things.

You Can’t Suck at Yoga

I’ve written about this before, but it deserves repeating. In a time when everything feels competitive, yoga sometimes gets lumped into that category. How deep can you go in a given pose? How good is your balance? How strong or flexible are you? But yoga isn’t competitive, not even with yourself. It isn’t about pushing yourself harder and harder each day, it’s about noticing and accepting where you are that day, being kind to yourself and working towards steady growth and improvement. Can’t keep your balance in tree pose? That’s great – it’s proof you’re not a robot! Falling out of a pose can be proof that you’re human, that you’re alive. Embrace it!

Drop your problems, you can always pick them up again

Once of the most difficult parts of any exercise routine is sticking with it, showing up for yourself every day. It’s not an issue of willpower, it’s that we have so many other things going on. I seem to have a constant to do list going on in my head, so many things that I need to remember, that I need to accomplish, that I need to get done. But when I step onto that yoga mat, I leave all of those things, if only for 15-20 minutes. All the stress, anxiety or whatever else will still be there when I’m ready to pick them up again. Of course, the reality is that after taking 15-20 minutes of giving my thinking brain a rest, of just moving through the various poses, I don’t want to pick up that anxiety. I will still get things done, I will still make my todo lists, but I feel much more centered, grounded and focused after yoga.

It’s also been really helpful in moments outside of yoga. I felt myself getting really overwhelmed the other night, worrying about Harley at school, about planning our move to the States, and everything was getting to be too much for me. I could feel myself getting caught up in the anxiety, getting dragged down emotionally. I decided to pause for a few moments, to take a couple deep breaths and remind myself that I was allowed to feel anxious – I had good reason to be stressed. Instead, I decided to leave those feelings for a moment, to pause and focus. When I was ready to look at it all again, it wasn’t nearly as daunting.

Trust

Today, I did yoga by myself for the first time in a very long time. This wasn’t a race through some sun salutations, though. This was me on my mat, flowing the way I felt my body needed, working my way through various poses. During the 31 days of Yoga Revolution, I trusted Adrienne to come up with the perfect routine each day. I trust that she was making me stronger each day with her choice of flows, that by the end I’d be more ripped but also more aware. While that was definitely the case, I find that I trust myself now. I know what my body needs and I trust my ability to come up with a yoga flow. That doesn’t mean I’ll never do another YouTube video again – of course I can always learn more and enjoy new yoga routines. But today, I found that I could trust myself, trust my body and move through an experience that was everything I needed.

I am sure I am forgetting so many other lessons in this moment. But suffice it to say that I am now one of those annoying yoga converts. I can’t believe it took me this long to find a way to connect with the practice, but I’m glad I’ve found it now.

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