I’m nearly 39 and I’ve never done yoga before. I used to be very active and flexible as a child, doing acrobatic gymnastics for 4 years, but then I had a huge gap in sports until I was past my 30’s. This year in March I’ve tried yoga for the first time in my life and it was a huge turning point in my fitness experience, and not only…
I started my adventure totally spontaneously, with yoga teachers on youtube and since March I’ve been trying to practice yoga at least 5 days a week. I also took part in a 30 day yoga challenge (30 days of yoga with Adriene) which I started on the 20th of May, and today I’m sharing with you my experience after completing that challenge.
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How Completing a 30-Day Yoga Challenge Helped Me Benefit From Yoga
1. I got into a habit of practising yoga every day.
The sessions within that 30-day yoga challenge programme were only 30-min long and they were designed for beginners. Who doesn’t have 30 minutes a day to hop on a mat? Come on! I loved the fact that every day there was something new and that it was my own private half an hour when I could “escape” from all my daily duties and problems. I tried to do my yoga practice every day at the same time, and before I realised, it became a part of my daily routine and I was already looking forward to the next day yoga session. It became such a strong habit that now after completing the challenge I still continue practicing yoga every day, sometimes even twice during the day.
2. As a beginner I became more confident in yoga.
I got familiar with more and more asana names and began to learn how to control my breathing. The teacher was walking you through all the poses and breathing techniques with so much detail. There was absolutely no pressure but I was slowly learning and becoming better and better in some of the poses because I was doing them with more confidence and ease.
3. Improvement in strength and flexibility.
I remember how I used to struggle with pushups and pullups during my workouts. While doing this challenge I’ve noticed with an undeniable astonishment that I’m able to do a proper “man’s” pushup at last! I also see that doing pullups doesn’t cost me as much effort as it used to. I’m still not strong enough, but I can honestly see a huge difference. The same with flexibility. One of the best examples is a forward bend. Thanks to regular every day practice I managed to touch the ground with my full palms for the first time! Here’s a photo documenting that (sorry for poor quality of the second photo, that’s all I have). I’m so proud of this little progress!
4. My motivation went up!
Seeing progress is the best motivation-booster you can possibly have. I could see it and I could feel it. Learning the habit to exercise every day has also helped a lot so there’s no more motivation struggle in my case. I see that “it’s working” and I want to do more to see how far this journey can lead me (especially at my age).
5. Yoga opened my body and mind.
I became more aware of my body and started paying more attention to my posture and the way I move. I started listening to it and by slow regular practice and paying attention to breathing I’ve noticed that my body was capable of more than I thought. It goes the same way with your mind. I admit that I don’t really do much meditation. However even the fact that I could spend 30 minutes alone, I could cut out from the problems and direct my focus on my practice trying to activate proper regular breathing, calmed me down and cleared my mind.
6. I got rid of anxiety and depression.
Last year has been very difficult. I was totally overwhelmed and I felt stuck and hopeless way too often. What’s more, living in a country where it’s cold and it rains for most of the year doesn’t really help… So yoga turned out to be a fantastic, safe and natural way of fighting all that gloominess inside! It worked like a therapy for me. I loved the fact that I could have this time of practice only to myself, I could forget about the problems for a moment, concentrate and do something good for my body (and mind) instead. Savasana is indeed my favourite moment of yoga and I never skip it. Endorphins do their job too! It’s a perfect match. In this busy world, we often get caught in a loop and we don’t even realise that. My daily yoga-time put me back on proper track and brought balance in my life.
7. I became more rested.
One thing I couldn’t change in my life was my very bad habit of going to bed ridiculously late (at 1 or 2 or sometimes even at 3am ! ) and sleeping for about 5-6 hours… which in my case is not enough… As a result I was feeling overtired and bitchy almost every day, running on caffeine and promising myself every morning that I would be going to bed early next time. Never worked! Yoga helped me get out from that vicious circle. I was usually doing my practice in the afternoon or evening and after the whole session I felt so rested that I was nearly falling asleep on my mat. And so feeling so chilled and relaxed I usually went to bed earlier. Simple as that.
There’s one last thing which I’d love to mention when talking about benefits of yoga. And I think it’s very important. Thanks to yoga you slow down and you learn to enjoy the moment. There’s no rush, there’s no judgement, you learn to love your body and simply enjoy the journey. Yoga is not about perfection. It’s about the process! Your own individual process. To me it was a very liberating discovery and that is what made me fall in love with yoga most of all.
What do you need to start practising yoga?
You might also think about some props helping you to get to some of more challenging poses but you don’t necessarily need them. I have no props at all, though I think having a pair of yoga blocks or a yoga strap wouldn’t be such a bad idea.
It’s very wise to invest in a good quality non-slippery mat. I see that now. I’ve been using mats I had for my fitness workouts but I had a few situations when my hands slipped in a downward dog pose… I need a new mat myself.
Here’s a few items I find very attractive:
If you’d like to see my whole journey, I was documenting it on my Instagram account. Or if you want to see how I keep on practicing yoga, check my hashtag #fitnclassyyogazone Feel free to join me on that journey if you’d like to. I would love to meet more people with similar goals and interests.
Do you practice yoga? Have you ever tried a yoga challenge?