Updates from day 21 of 30 days of yoga
My first exposure to yoga was as a little kid. My grandma used yoga as her workout routine, and taught me a couple of poses while we lounged on the front porch when I was all of four years old.
I viewed yoga as a weird old person thing to do for a while, but in eighth grade, had a yoga unit in PE. Yoga left me feeling more centered and calm than any of my brutal swim team workouts did, and since then, I have built up a semi-regular practice. My main source of yoga-related content is through the YouTube channel Yoga with Adriene.
What I like about Yoga with Adriene is that it is free (heyo!), goofy, lightly peppered with life lessons, and fulfills its promises. For example, the 12 Minute Yoga for Brain Power really does pump me up and get me back in the studying groove after hours in the library cramming for finals. I have always wanted a more regular practice, but lacked the cash for consistently attending $15 classes. The solution? Yoga with Adriene's 30 day challenge.
The channel has multiple 30 day series, and I have put off making any real progress on them since I was a freshman in high school. Now, as a college sophomore who is sheltering in place, I have no excuses. I started! Here's what I've learnt, as of Day 21:
The tiny, imperceptible changes make all the difference
I have struggled with crow pose for years. I've never really been able to get into it, but somehow, a few days into this journey, I was able to do it! I attribute it to a newfound focus on the feelings, the little unnoticeable behaviors that only I observe. For example, I have spent time finding a midline, connecting to all four corners of my torso, spreading through my hands, and maintaining a connection through my spine. These changes are invisible to anyone on the outside, but to me, they've made all the difference.
I'm realizing that this applies to so much else in life! If I want to make a change, the best place to start from is within. I don't need to scream something from the top of my lungs, totally change everything I do, or find some other dramatic, highly visible alteration. By focusing on me, I can get where I hope to go.
Achieving a goal doesn't need to be agonizing
A lot of rise and grind culture tells us to work ourselves to the bone, dedicate every ounce of our being to productivity, and be unforgiving with ourselves. I think that is garbage! For a lot of what we hope to achieve in our life, consistent and gentle progress can get us where we want to go without punishing ourselves. My heels now touch the ground in downward facing dog—not because I pushed myself to the point of snapping a hamstring every day, but because I have spent 20-30 easy minutes on the mat for three weeks.
Fulfilling promises to myself reminds me that I have what I need
There are a lot of days where I really don't want to do yoga. I'm cranky, I'm tired, I'm emotionally worn out, and the last thing I want is someone telling me to smile and reach my fingertips to the sky. Still, I go through the motions. And the next day, I feel proud with one more video under my belt.
I need to find what feels good!
When doing yoga online, there's no pressure to conform to the rest of the group because... there is no group. If my cobbler's pose looks a little janky, but is more comfortable to me than the picture perfect asana, then so be it! It feels right to me and that's all that matters. I'm now starting to apply that to the rest of my life. Who cares what other people think? Do what feels good for me.
To me, yoga is more about the mental journey than working up a sweat, and I'm glad I'm holding myself to this even though there are times when I would rather not.