Earlier in the month I wrote about how I was embarking on a 30 Day Yoga Challenge…and it is now officially complete!
A brief re-cap. I started this challenge for several reasons: I don’t love doing strength and my body is paying for it because of the volume of running that I’m doing, I have some residual weaknesses and imbalances from back when I was speed skating, and I was looking for a way to challenge myself while I took some time off running. I also was introduced to the most amazing yoga studio (Yoga Santosha!) that has an incredible intro offer ($39 unlimited first month). What better way to get bang for my buck?!
I couldn’t commit to being at the studio every single day based on my school schedule, but conveniently on the days that I couldn’t get down there, my university offers free classes for students. So Tuesday/Thursday I went to yoga at school and the other days I went to Santosha.
I tried all sorts of different classes: ashtanga, satva, flow, hot flow, yin, restorative, yin/yang and groove! It was so much fun trying out all of the different instructors and styles. I loved that each instructor had a different way of explaining things, some that stuck with me and some that entered one ear and flew out the other.
I will admit that I missed two days (dun dun dun). The first was in the middle of a super crazy two weeks of school that just happened to be during the challenge. Over a quarter of my grades for this semester were determined from work due during two weeks. On that day I was super tired, cranky and fed up with studying constantly. I realized after that it was probably the MOST important day for me to get on my mat, but alas, it didn’t happen. I forgave myself right away because of how hard I was working and just extended the challenge by one day. Perhaps it was my time spent on the mat that helped me let it go, as that is a concept taught in every class.
The other day was this past Sunday when we were hiking in Banff. Normally I would have done sun salutations, but it just didn’t happen so I won’t try to make up an excuse.
Overall, regardless of the two slip ups, I am extremely proud of myself for completing the challenge. Below is a list of things that were great/I’m proud of/to reflect on:
- I must have gained some strength since my ‘six pack’ muscles are the most defined they’ve ever been. But I also can feel major differences in my practice from the beginning to the end, demonstrating the strength of body and mind that I have gained.
- My practice improved tenfold. I realized after I started that I probably should have done yoga more that twice in the past six months leading up to starting the challenge. But it was what it was and I made the best of it. My first and last days were ashtanga, which was neat because so many of the poses were night and day differences.
- I LEARNED TO HEADSTAND. All by myself. No wall and no teacher! The very first day I didn’t even try to go up. Later on I had the teacher help me and then did it against the wall. And on my third last day I surprised myself and got all the way up all by myself, right in the middle of the room! Afterwards the teacher came over and I couldn’t help but totally dump my excitement on him (thanks Chris for your enthusiasm!). In the next three days I did a total of three teacher supported and three unassisted headstands. HELL YA!
- I finally can upward dog/backbend comfortably (sort of). Because of some issues with my low back I find upward dog and back bends uncomfortable. Over the course of the month I talked to a few different teachers about technique, was extremely patient with myself and worked really slowly to make improvements. Overall, I think I might just baby my back a little, and have been trying to gently push it a little bit more. It really is helping a lot and I am seeing lots of improvement, with less and less pain.
- My breathing became much stronger and I learned to use breath to my advantage in my practice.
- Part way through I had to do a sit and reach flexibility test in one of my classes…yup, I rocked it (haha).
- My poor baby arms survived. Speed skaters are known for anything but their big strong arms. And I believe the same could probably be said for runners. After about three days I started saying that my arms were cooked, and I never knew what was coming! By the last ten days I was getting lactic acid build up in my arms in downward dog and almost always had the shakes.
- I learned to love yoga; maybe the most important lesson of all. I have already bought my next pass and have plans to hit yoga groove tonight. I have found a way to strengthen my body, mind and soul in a relaxed, supportive, nurturing environment.
A big thanks to all of the teachers at Santosha that made my experience so incredible. Thanks to Keith for joining me at many of my classes and Sarah for both introducing me to the studio and cheering me on (right there beside me in headstand!).
For now, I can’t wait to get back on the trails! The only thing I missed was having lots of time to run! Now I’ll just have to find balance!