Yogust is over!
I’m both glad and sad that my personal challenge to do yoga every day is over. Glad because I now have the freedom to choose if I do yoga, but sad because that extra push gets me to do yoga more than I normally would – and I feel the difference.
How did I do? I practiced yoga 29 out of the 31 days in August. Since I did yoga twice on a few occasions, I’ll go ahead and say I did the whole month. Go me!
I’ve done this challenge before, and doing it this month reminded of two insights I have had previously about month-long challenges in general:
- It’s important to have accountability: Checking off the day on my calendar motivated me (and knowing you all would see my progress on the blog added extra accountability – I didn’t want to be embarrassed by being sloth).
- The 5 sun salutation get-out-of-jail-free-card is essential to being successful in this challenge. I need something simple I can do in under 5 minutes in case life gets in the way (which it often does). I did the 5 sun salutations as my practice several times a week during this challenge.
Even though I’ve done a month-long challenge to do yoga every day before, my experience this month has been different. For the first time since I started doing month-long challenges over a decade ago, I shared my journey through the challenge with this community. Reading and responding to your comments on my posts, and reading posts on other blogs, inspired revelations about yoga and my practice.
A few things that I learned this month:
- It only takes 5 minutes to realign myself. Doing 5 sun salutations when I wake up, get home from work, or right before bed can dramatically shift how I feel in my mind and my body.
- Even though it only takes 5 minutes, it still requires discipline to do it every day. Many days, the only reason I did the 5 sun salutations was because I didn’t want the empty day staring at me on my checklist calendar (and knowing I was posting my calendar on the blog was an extra kick in the pants). I always felt better doing it, but I still struggle with the internal motivation to do it because it feels good and is good for me, rather than the external motivation to put a check in a box. (Evidence: I haven’t done them since Yogust ended). It takes a lot of self- discipline to in grain a new habit.
- Doing at least 5 sun salutations daily improved my posture and reduced back pain from sitting at a desk. Those that know me might be surprised to learn that (I am told I have great posture); but at the end of the month I feel about 2 inches taller – my spine feels longer.
- Doing yoga every day redefined yoga for me. Yoga is a class in a studio. Yoga is a 20 minute podcast in my apartment. Yoga is 5 sun salutations before bed. Yoga is aligning my posture as I walk down the street and fully breathing. I don’t need to take a class in a studio to do yoga (although that is often my preferred way to do it); yoga is as much about creating the internal alignment as it is the physical, and it can take many forms.
- To do yoga every day, you must set yourself up for a successful home practice.
- To do yoga every day, you must listen to your body. You can’t do a vigorous hour-long vinyasa class every day – your body needs to rest and recover, and do other things, to prevent injury and build strength. It’s only by listening to your body and giving it what it needs each day that you can have a successful daily yoga practice. To listen to your body, you must pay attention to it; a daily practice forces you to be more in tune with your body and present in it.
- Doing yoga every day makes you a more active participant in your yoga practice. By paying attention to your body (and mind) and giving it the kind of yoga it needs, you are not simply doing what your teacher tells you to do, you are deciding what you need to do. If my low back was hurting, I did a 20 minute class that focused on the back and hips; if I needed to work off some steam, I did a vigorous class; if I was sore from a tough class, I did 5 sun salutations. Not only do you learn a lot about what you need in your yoga practice, you are more empowered to give yourself what you need.
Now that Yogust is over, I’m onto my next challenge: drinking one green juice a day in September (I haven’t thought of a fun name for it yet – ideas welcome). I’m not sure I’ll last the entire month, but I’m going to go as long as I can.
Bucket list of month-long challenges I’m thinking of trying one day:
Tackle a task/Don’t procrastinate: I’ve done this one before, but am thinking of doing it again since there feels like there are a million things running through the back of my mind. Start the month by writing down every to do lingering in the back of your mind, and then daily check one off – it’s really invigorating!
Stay connected: Call or email one person a day (I tried this one once – I think I only lasted a week)
Try something new
Read the news for 15 minutes
Journal: I’ve done this one before and wouldn’t mind doing it again – it’s great having an ongoing conversation with yourself, even if it’s to say “I don’t feel like writing today”
Meditate for 5 minutes: Working up to this one – I have some sort of fear/aversion to meditation
Give up TV: (in all it’s forms – online viewing counts!) I’ve done this one before – you have so much more free time
Limit evening online time/bed time for the computer: This would force me to be efficient and thoughtful with the time I spend online, and not get sucked into the wormhole that is the interweb
Spend 30 minutes cleaning up and organizing my home
Say hello to a stranger
Learn a new vocabulary word
Keep a gratitude journal
Go for a walk
Random act of kindness: Holding doors for people, donating to charities, bringing a meal to a neighbor in need of a little help, give a heartfelt compliment, pay for the drink/toll/etc of the person behind you
Eat one meal a day sitting down and without distractions: no computer, TV, or reading
Eat one piece of fruit a day
Give up added sugar: I haven’t gotten the courage to do this yet (I have a serious sweet tooth), but want to
Do something creative
What month-long challenge would you choose? Start the discussion in comments!
WEEK 4 OF YOGUST
8/25: Tara Stiles Clear Your Mind Routine before bed. Very relaxing.
8/26: 5 sun salutations
8/28: 5 sun salutations
8/29: YogaDownload Align and Flow: Cuing and timing was a little off, but felt good none the less.
8/30: Heated Power Yoga with Augustina at Groove. AWESOME class. It’s been a while since I’ve done a heated (95-100 degrees, not Bikram) yoga, and I loved it. I left feeling worked, but refreshed. I was sore the next day – a good sign! (Groove has a great deal – $30 for 30 days of yoga for new students)
8/31: 5 sun salutations. I really wanted to end Yogust with a bang and take a class, but life got in the way. But maybe that was the point – to remind myself that even when life gets in the way, I can still take 5 minutes to realign myself – physically and mentally.