Hey lovely people! I’m sure you all are just about sick of hearing me talk about yoga, but too bad, so sad! I’m about to tell you all about my experience doing yoga every day for the entire month of January. Also known as, Yogapalooza 2020. If you followed along with my old blog at all, you know that one thing I have major issues with is willpower/motivation/sticking with something for any length of time. I’ll do ok for a few weeks, but eventually, fall off the bandwagon somewhere along the way. But, somehow, I managed to make it to all 31 days of yoga for the challenge. And this is my experience of it all!
I did the challenge last year, but we had several snow days where classes were canceled and we didn’t have it count against us. This year, there were two snow days, but I had taken those days off work to try and avoid the shit weather that had been moving in, so I was able to attend morning classes to keep the streak going. I kicked the new year off with a gentle yoga class, which while I didn’t like the first one I went to, quickly became one of my favorite classes to hit up on Saturdays. Even though I had been going to practice consistently three times a week prior to the start of the challenge, a lot of the poses were still challenging for me. I spoke about it in my prior blog, but a couple of years ago I had jaw issues that lead me to see a chiropractor. Prior to starting treatment with this chiro, I had been making huge strides in yoga, running, and my weight-loss journey. I was shaving minutes off my mile time, and hitting poses that I had been struggling with for years before things were starting to click into place.
But unfortunately, this chiro decided that in order to best heal me, I needed to stop activity altogether. I couldn’t even go for a walk. The only activity I was allowed to do was very light swimming and only for maybe 20 minutes at a time. Since I don’t have access to an indoor pool, that was out because I wasn’t paying a bunch of money to swim for 20 minutes and then call it quits. So for four months, I followed all her directions. Icing, resting, etc. And then I was allowed to start yoga again, but no deep twists or headstands. And then running was off and on. While my jaw issues did get better, I lost pretty much everything I had gained and gained back everything I had lost and then some. I became frustrated with my lack of progress, and eventually also became frustrated with her lack of empathy, which I felt stemmed from my refusal to purchase the supplements and cleanses she was constantly pushing toward me. That, among other things, led me to stop treatment with her completely, and since have been struggling with getting back to where I was and keeping myself motivated.
Long story longer, I was unable to regularly attend classes and eventually stopped practicing altogether for many, many months. So coming into Yogapalooza, I was basically starting all over again in my yoga journey.
Due to my work schedule and the fact that I live about 35 miles from the yoga studio, my class choice was pretty limited during the weekdays. I went to The Practice on Mondays, and then all my other classes were YogaHour classes, which are pretty fucking intense. Saturdays, I hit up the gentle yoga classes as a respite from the intensity of classes during the week, and on Sundays, I typically went to a basics class for the same reason. All of the teachers were amazing. They encouraged you to move at your pace and to use whatever props you needed. It was the first time I really utilized all the props available to me for practice. I previously always thought using props would signify that you were weak or out of your depth in the class, but listening to the teachers, I realized that more often than not, using props allows you to deepen your practice and not over-extend yourself to the point of injury. They were also very understanding a couple of times I came to class with lingering soreness from either sleeping on my neck wrong or pulling a muscle in my lower back (weirdly, NOT at yoga class!).
So all this blabbering to tell you what I experienced throughout my 31-day journey, right? Spiritually, I felt so connected to my practice as time went on. I felt myself growing in the space that I made during practice, moving with and finding my breath during asanas. Taking the practice off my mat and with me throughout the rest of my day and into the next. Physically, I definitely made strides in my practice. I got stronger and can now do a plank without dropping my knees and I was able to get back up into a headstand. I’m so close to getting a few arm balances down as well. When I would feel myself getting frustrated with my body and its perceived limitations, I slowed down and went back a couple of steps and either tried again or hung out in that space. I’m pleased with the progress I made, and after taking a short break to give my body a chance to rest and heal from the journey I put it through, I’m looking very much forward to getting back onto my mat.
Another thing this journey showed me was that it IS possible for me to do something that I set my mind to and say that I’m going to do. Yeah, I didn’t win the ultimate prize of a year of yoga, but it went to someone who really needed it and deserved it. But I also showed myself that I can make and keep promises to myself. There were many, many times that I sat in my car in the parking lot, wanting nothing more than to go home and sit on my sofa for the night, absorbed in whatever dumb show was on tv at the time. But I knew that once I was done with class, I would feel immensely better than I had before. So, all in all, this challenge has changed me both physically and mentally for the better. It’s shown me that I do actually have some willpower and stick-to-it-ness hiding in here somewhere, and I am capable of making the moves I need to make to make the changes I need to make. I just need to believe in myself!