Driving home from a yoga class a few months ago I realized how peacefully happy I felt. The car tailgating me didn’t really bother me, and waiting in line to pay for my groceries felt more amusing than inconvenient.
My legs and core felt strong, and my shoulders felt relaxed; I felt taller. I decided I wanted more of this in my life, so I designed a 30 Day Yoga Challenge for myself.
Benefits of a Consistent Yoga Practice
More than likely, you may have heard of some of the benefits of yoga: improved flexibility, strength, immune system, circulation and bone density.
Yoga also reduces pain, balances hormones, and can lower blood sugar and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and boosts HDL (“good”) cholesterol.
In people with diabetes, yoga has been found to lower blood sugar in several ways: by lowering cortisol and adrenaline levels, helping the body find its natural healthy weight, and improving sensitivity to the effects of insulin.
My favorite benefit of yoga is feeling peacefully calm, but energized.
Making Time For a 30 Day Yoga Challenge
I took out a calendar and decided I could spend as much time as a full class or as little as 5 minutes on a single pose.
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I marked down the days I knew I would be able to take a class locally, which was usually once or twice a week.
Some of the days I chose to listen to a downloaded yoga class from Yoga Journal, where you can choose how long you would like the class to be or the type of class (a focus on shoulders, a vigorous class, one that focuses on balance, etc.). You can also sign up for great free monthly videos from Curvy Yoga.
Other days I tuned into my local cable company’s FitTV, which has all types yoga classes for varying amounts of time. At least three times during the week, I chose to only do one yoga pose with focused breathing because I knew I had to be realistic.
My challenge looked something like this:
If Life “Gets in the Way,” That’s OK
A few times during the month, life just “got in the way” and I was unable to do my intended exercise. Instead of judging myself I connected with a place of compassion, realizing it was okay to let it go.
This was a new concept for me, and seemingly a result of the consistent yoga practice. I knew I could just continue again tomorrow.
Some days, due to time constraints, all I did was lie in bed and hug my knees to my chest (“Apanasana”) to stretch out my lower back before falling asleep.
The challenge was a great opportunity to dive deeper into my practice, my relationship with myself, and it gave me time to pause for self care.