I’ve tried yoga a few times before: the combination of a fairly anxious mind and a want to tone my currently non-existent muscles means it had been recommended as a solution frequently. The breathing stuff had unfortunately never made much sense. I’m naturally restless with a very short attention span and the idea of sitting quietly, just me and my thoughts, always seemed so boring to me.
A couple of years ago I found Yoga with Adriene. If you aren’t familiar, Adriene is a Texan Yoga teacher with a huge online following due to her popular instruction videos, including the 30 Days of Yoga series. I had tried this 30 Day challenge before, and given up around Day 14 because I was fed up of trying to fit into my day. I was racing through every one of the videos; that restlessness wouldn’t go away. I liked it well enough to try a real-life yoga class, but again my least favourite bit was lying in Corpse pose at the end listening to plinky plonky music, breathing in other people’s sweat.
This year one of my resolutions had been to work on getting fit and feeling strong. Another had been to get better and sticking with things. That aforementioned short attention span? Yeah that means I am also Queen of Procrastination and Empress of Unfinished Projects and Forgotten Hobbies. It’s a hateful habit that I’m planning to lessen the frequency of in 2017.
So a way to kick-start my ‘Stop Pissing About You Dick’ plan and combine it with ‘Mission Seemingly Impossible: Get Fit and Find Sport You Enjoy,’ resulted in embarking on Yoga with Adriene‘s 30 Days of Yoga YouTube series in January.
And I actually completed the whole bloody thing. How?
The first change this time that got me through a lot of it was the Siobhan factor. My flatmate Siobhan embarked on the challenge with me and I now had someone that would be let down if I didn’t get up in the mornings to do our yoga. Never underestimate the power of both friendship and guilt.
Next factor would be Adriene herself. I had enjoyed my first foray into the series because of her particular style of yogi instruction which combines goofiness and a sense of humour with absolutely no judgement and occasional glimpses of her adorable dog. I felt welcomed in her little yoga community – she encourages you not to think constantly about how far away you are from say, getting your heels down in Downward Dog, but just focus on good form and one day, you’ll suddenly have your heels down and you won’t even have thought about it. Believe me, I actually have my feet flat now and it’s still crazy to me that I can do that. Her mantra is Find What Feels Good and it resonates through every second of her practice.
Making time for the videos (which are usually 20-30 mins long) was a key element of my failure last time. But really, how hard is it to take 20 minutes out of your day to flail your limbs around a bit? We did ours first thing in the morning, and whilst my love of sleeping in to the very last second fought this idea as much as it could, this proved to be really fantastic. I was that smug prick who went about my day at work all satisfied because I’d already done exercise AND taken time out to wake up my brain for the day.
My body began to crave the yoga by the end of it – it enjoyed the stretching and warming of my muscles at the start of the day. I do feel stronger and more toned. Doing a sustained practice like this means I can see the progress in my own abilities and it is exceptionally gratifying.
And the breathing? I think I’m starting to get it. Now when I run I concentrate on my breathing and it gets me through, yoga style. I can push through those yogi bicycle crunches because my breath sustains me. It narrows my focus and helps my anxious little brain to calm itself down a tad.
Yoga can be seen as either a fad, dull as hell or stupidly easy – our other flatmate tried to tell us that it was ‘just a bit of stretching,’ so we made him do a video with us and he tapped out after about 10 mins of positions focusing on your abs. In reality it’s a fantastic form of exercise for your whole body that can impact postively on your other fitness pursuits and general daily happiness.Ultimately I think I might be proudest of the fact that I actually did something for 30 days straight, as sad a representation of my usual distracted self as that may be. Here’s to adding yoga into my fitness routine every week, and maybe trying one of Adriene’s other Yoga series’ in March!
Also my balance has improved – so maybe I won’t fall flat on my face as much. Fingers crossed…