40 days of yoga

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about this 40 day challenge. I really tried to lean into this assignment and get everything I could out of it, instead of treating it just like a boring daily assignment that I have to do for school credit. It was “one more thing” to worry about every single day, but writing has always come easy to me, and I never really felt hugely inconvenienced by this project in the last 40 days.

Before this challenge, I already had a diary and journal that I wrote in nearly every day. This is a habit that has greatly improved my quality of life because it allows me to look back at my memories and emotions on any given day. Not only do I record the things which have happened, but also my dreams (access into my subconscious processing of life events) and even the feelings that I had that day. Without this record,  I lose track of time. Have I been depressed for a week? A month? A diary helps sort this out and pinpoint the triggers that cause me to feel or react in certain ways.

Lessons learned

This was different for a few reasons. For one thing, other people can see and read this blog, whereas my diaries hopefully  will never be seen by anybody but me except maybe after I’m dead. Though I’ve shared more about myself than most people probably would for a school assignment, my diaries are more private still. Another big point that can’t be understated is the aspect of personal responsibility. Nobody holds me accountable for my diary entries; I do it because I know it’s a good thing to do. But people don’t always do what’s good and right, even for themselves, unless someone else is cracking the whip. I’m not immune to this… I’m trying to be self-started, self motivated, but at this point I still excel when I’m being pushed by someone else, and this is evident when comparing my home yoga practice and studio or class practice.

One of the things I learned was that I can’t do intense physical practice every single day with no breaks. Eventually, over the course of a month or more, a rest day or two is required. With yoga that doesn’t have to mean complete abstinence from any practice at all, though. It can mean that I just do a few sun salutations to wake up, and maybe rest in child’s pose for a while.

I also learned a lesson about facing my fears when attending a yoga studio. I’ve let my anxiety prevent me from signing up for classes or going to a community class, for quite literally years. What’s more, I’ve refused to even accept that anxiety is the problem. Analyzing my thought processes from the past, I realized that I’ve made dozens of excuses to myself to avoid going to classes. Too tired, too sweaty, too sore. Knowing that I had a blog post to write helped me find a different excuse, an excuse to attend instead of to stay at home being lethargic.

Ch-ch-changes

This 40 day challenge did bring me closer to the person I wanted to become, and it has changed me in several ways. The most obvious is physically. You can see a transformation picture post in Wednesday blog, on 3/4.  It’s not the kind of transformation you might see for a 40 day weight lifting challenge but I can see and feel some differences. Overall, I don’t think my progress was bad for just over a month of work. My mentality also changed to accommodate daily yoga and blogging. I realized early into the challenge that I needed to change my habits if I wanted to make room for yoga, blogging and working on my portfolio spread. At first this realization made me very uncomfortable, like an internal temper tantrum. “I can’t do what I want anymore! I have to work and be accountable!”

I am certainly going to continue doing yoga. In fact, I think I’m going to continue with this blog. I’ll be ending the 40 day challenge category but starting something new. I’m also taking pictures of myself and continuing with yoga so I can see if my body changes more after another month of daily practice. These 40 days have given me confidence in my ability to achieve goals that I truly want for myself. My next major goal in my yoga / life journey is to completely quit drinking alcohol and coffee and cease smoking of any kind. I already quit smoking cigarettes, and other things that could have easily killed me. All that’s left is my old familiar habit that’s been with me since I was a sophomore in high school, and I know I’m long overdue in letting it go. I need to get serious about creating the life I have in my dream for myself, where I am financially secure and emotionally stable. I can’t end up like my parents did and I will do what’s necessary to realize my vision no matter what.