Why I took a 21 day yoga challenge
Yoga and I have had an ebb and flow relationship.
I have danced on and off with yoga for about 8 years now but it wasn’t until moving to Melbourne that I committed to a more regular practice.
Two years ago when I started working for international yoga brand lululemon athletica, I thought that yoga might finally stick. This was it, be default I would become a yogi for life. Little did I know, embarking on a 21 day challenge would be the transformative experience I needed.
So how did the transformation unfold?
Day one: 6:15am class, need less to say I meet the mat with nerves, fearing 21 days of yoga, a mountain I was yet to summit. My mind busy with so many questions…
How was my body going to hold up? Will I be able to stick at it? (sometimes I don’t have good ‘stickability’). For a recovering perfectionist, perhaps this doubt is my fear of failure rising up from within. As I eased into the practice, though strong and testing, I gradually started let go. Whenever things got tough, I came back to my breath. I was feeling my Sunday night workout, hips weren’t functioning and I felt ‘stuck’ and tight. But again I just accepted what is. I was creating this negative loop after all, I was the only one that could set it free.
As day 03 rolled around, I experienced shifts in my practice. For the first time I was excited to practice, it was a new day, a new teacher, a new experience.
During the first week all students of the challenge were asked to set a ‘sankalpa’ or intention for our 21 days. Admittedly, I struggled with this at the start. Not wanting to over think it, I attached myself to the idea of strength and persistence – ‘i will finish this challenge’…hello perfectionist tendencies again, loud and clear.
Then on the fourth day in, I was washing the dishes of all things when a wave of emotion came over me…
This emotion was calling me, calling me to ‘let go’. Let go of what was no longer serving me, thoughts, emotions, old ways of being that were haunting me on my first day of practice.
I am a student of yoga, but in the broader sense, I am a student of my life, I own my journey and most importantly, I own my thoughts and feelings.
This duality of ownership, acceptance and letting go is supported through a practice like yoga. Because with each moment, each breath, I can choose again.
The stillness I gain from yoga, the attention to breath, allows this process to be recreated over and over again. In that sense, yoga is a moving meditation.
Parallel to my thoughts, I observed changes in my body each day, renewed core strength and slowly but surely I am getting a little more limber in my muscles.
The most significant change, was an emerging awareness around what my body wants and needs. How can I best nourish my body in this moment? Even if a stronger practice is on offer, what parts of the practice do I need to just ‘let go’ (coming back to my Sancalpa) and rest. We learned on our 21 day journey that this process of ‘non violence’ towards my body is the first of the Yamas in yoga philosophy – Ahimsa. A practice of showing kindness to your body and mind.
So after a transformative 21 days of yoga, why was it so influential?
// I gained a sense of mindfulness can be carried through other things in life, including what I choose to eat and what form exercise I do //
// Creating an intention for the 21 days provided an anchor for what I wanted to experience and cultivate during my journey, something which I can take into my daily life //
// While the practice is as much your own journey, the positive vibrational energy is enhanced when practicing alongside a collective, a group, a tribe if you will. This energy is taken out into the world and creates a positive lingering effect //
// The practice of yoga has something to offer every one, no matter where you are at in your journey //