I stumbled upon Yoga With Adriene on Youtube, one Friday night after feeling quite bored and frustrated. My boyfriend was working and my mom and I were having a tiff. For months my body, brain, and spirit felt completely out of whack.
I’m not sure how the boredom and frustration inspired my search for a yoga video but, looking back it felt like divine guidance.
I did two under 10 minute videos and one was with Adriene. I clicked on a few more of her videos and found her 30-Day Challenge. It was originally posted in January 2015, probably a way to kick start the New Year with a new attitude and healthy routine. I found it May 1st.
I decided to sign up for the newsletter and video challenge, really without thinking I’d actually commit to it.
The first day I completed the challenge I felt great--I was happy I had even started. But I was skeptical. Adriene was upbeat, goofy, and the perfect yoga teacher for me; I felt like I was making a friend. But the rushes of self-doubt and critics arrived: “Can I actually finish this, because I never finish anything? I can’t bend that far, my heals are nowhere near the floor in downward dog. I even suck at yoga! (or my favorite) You’re not relaxing, why aren’t you relaxing? Clear your mind, stop making lists, don’t think about work yak, yak, yak…” I began marking “Y” on my calendar to signify my daily completion. I attempted to have a routine and specific time of day that I practiced but life happens; I managed over 30 days to feel accomplished to finish and count it as a “day” as long I didn’t go to sleep before completing the yoga practice. Which means, over the month, I did my yoga anywhere between noon- 2:00 am. I practiced in my room, my family room, living room, my sister’s house with her mat, and my friend’s house with her dad’s mat. I tried to find space to do it alone—mostly I did and felt that I had a deeper connection to my practice, but sometimes that wasn’t an option. A few times I was way over-tired, or (hate to admit this, had one too many glasses of wine at dinner). My cats would watch and often times join me on my mat in an inconvenient pose.
I was excited; I told all my family, friends, and co-workers about it. I felt my skin improved, my attitude changed, my creativity blossomed (the idea for this website occurred with this challenge).
Some days were much easier than others to get on the mat. Many times, my entire day was consumed by the prospect of having My Mat Time. It was the time for me to turn inward, put aside the stress from the day and other future anxieties that have weighed me down. Many times, even seeing Adriene and hearing the intro music made me smile. I loved her reminders during practice to smile.
I felt that in the beginning some of the videos kicked my butt, like crazy. I felt out of shape, noticed where my body’s weak spots were, and wondered how I was ever going to last the challenge? Was I going to see any definition in my body, was my mind going to finally turn “off” at night? Could I somehow be a little less negative at work?
Some days were a struggle for me hit the mat. In the middle of the month I left it for the very last activity of the day, often times around midnight. A few times I truly forgot about it until my night was almost complete. Honestly, only a few times did I really weigh the options of not completing it: “What’s the big deal? You can start again? It’s just one night—you can do it twice tomorrow.” BUT NO! That’s not what I committed to. I told myself everyday I would take 10-35 minutes of my day to focus my energy on my body, mind, and spirit. I needed to prove to myself that I could hold myself accountable to my commitments, my goals, and to (most importantly) honoring myself. This challenge is one of the only things I can quickly think of that I completed as a challenge.
No matter how tired, frustrated, insecure, bored, unfocused I was before, during and even after the video, I was always proud that I did it. Every night I was able to reflect on my day, maybe I didn’t write and I felt bad, or I had way too many chocolates or chips, (or glasses of wine), or I was frustrated at work or at home, I was able to say, “at least I did my yoga.”
This challenged taught me so much about myself, my ability to continue even when I didn’t 100% believe in my success. I kept pushing on. No one else was going to make me do yoga. No one else could do the poses for me. I had to “hand and feet” hit the mat daily and push through the struggle of learning to breathe correctly, (I typically breathed the opposite way of the video) correct my posture, push on after falling over a few times…I learned I was afraid to fall over. (But really, I’m only 15 inches off the floor; I’m not going to get mortally wounded). I laughed; I smiled when my abs and legs burned. I laughed when finally, on Day 18, felt my heal press effortlessly onto my mat in downward dog, and felt confused on day 19 when they couldn’t. On day 30, once again, they released on the mat and I felt accomplished, relieved, refreshed, and content.
I learned the value of discipline. This really showed me that daily practice no matter how little, builds strength, perseverance, endurance and a positive habit that I crave and enjoy.
Day 30 was quite emotional, even for Adriene. She did something unexpected but empowering. She took off her mic, let the music play and allowed the viewer to play freely in our poses. Had I known that would have been the last day’s challenge I would have been overwhelmed by the idea of leading my own yoga session…what would I do? Even when she said it, in the moment, I felt a little startled. I matched her first few poses and unconsciously began my own routine. It was utterly freeing. I loved it! Tears welled up in my eyes several times. I felt empowered; my journey was ending and a few times I wished I spent more time honoring my yoga moments, (like when I was tipsy or tired). This taught me to really prioritize my yoga time. I look forward to it, I enjoy how it makes me feel-- inside and out, (and the toned muscles are an added bonus). I hope that I will continue with yoga as a habitual practice, which I turn to as part of my valued time. That last night was an emotional experience; I felt accomplished, proud and peaceful. The entire challenge was really a moving experience. I was able to reflect, clear my mind, strengthen my focus and disincline (physical and mental), and awaken my creative freedom. I didn’t expect to learn and experience all that I did, but it’s a journey that I am thankful for.
Try it for yourself!