At the time of writing this, I have done 15 consecutive days of yoga. That is more than I’ve ever done before; I usually got bored and abandoned the daily yoga idea after a few days or a week. I find it so helpful to have great emails sent to me each day – a new routine, a new focus every day. It’s about more than the physical; the emotional and cognitive journey has already been profound. Even so, I was wondering if I’d stick with it once the month was over. Would I continue to find videos? Would I keep enjoying it without the daily changing routine? Parts of it are still so daunting. I struggle with many of the regular poses (like downward f-ing dog) and finish the 30 minute videos dripping with sweat. With some poses that I can only do while heavily modified, I sometimes feel like I’m not strong enough, not flexible enough.
I recently caught up with my friend Sadaf, and she commented that she saw that I was doing yoga now (she has for years). A part of me didn’t feel like I was good enough to be considered in the same league as I imagined she was in. I replied, “yeah, but I sorta suck at it”. She laughed and made the best possible comment. You can’t suck at yoga. It’s only once it came to the West that we started making it a competitive thing somehow, trying to be able to push ourselves into ever more complicated poses, outdoing the person on the next mat. It’s not about getting into the “perfect” tree, chair or crow pose, something that is mirrored in what the woman running the #YogaRevolution often says.
Yoga is a practice. It isn’t about sweating for an hour a couple times a week to lose weight, although that can be an added bonus. It isn’t about forcing your body into uncomfortable poses, although sometimes the stretch or the burn can be intense. It’s about committing to make the time for yourself. It’s about noticing and accepting where you are each and every day, working towards what feels good and sets your body up right until you can return to the mat again. It’s about trying, striving, breathing and accepting. Can’t get your balance in tree pose without your toes on the ground? That’s okay! It’s a sign of being human, of being alive. Maybe tomorrow your balance will be better, or next week, or next decade. As long as you are working the flow, feeling your body move in wonderful ways and moving through your breathing, you are rocking the yoga.
Just over two weeks into 31 days of a Yoga Revolution, I’m feeling so much more aware of how important the practice has become to me. It is really cool to notice the poses that are feeling easier, the added flexibility I’ve gotten, the strength I’m finding again, and the mind body connection that’s being forged. A deeper acceptance of where I am physically is helping me realize where I am emotionally, mentally. I can work towards the things that need changing, the things I need to get done, marching through my to-do list. I have the strength inside me to conquer whatever I need to focus on. But it’s also up to me how I direct that focus, how I spend my time and my energy. And when I start to feel anxious or overwhelmed or stressed, I can pause and breathe, feeling where I’m holding those emotions. It doesn’t mean that they go away, but it certainly helps me figure out what is upsetting me and how I can fix things.
Two weeks in, and I’m already seeing such a profound change in myself, from how I sit or walk to how I cope in moments of anxiety. This is so much more than a fantastic exercise routine, so much more than the confidence I built when I was doing regular weight lifting. I now understand how people become yoga junkies, how people who fall in love with the practice of yoga can stick with it for years. Two weeks ago, I wondered how I would continue yoga after the 31 days of this particular challenge. Now, I’m wondering how I could possibly stop after realizing how wonderful it makes me feel.