30 days of a personal yoga practice: Overcoming the challenge

30 dys of a personal yoga practice: Overcoming the challenge

Welcome and thank you for taking few minutes to read the first post about my yoga journey.

I was introduced to yoga about 3-4 years ago when I signed up for a new gym membership and as they had yoga as part of the fitness class package, I decided to give it a go. I am not going to lie and say that it was love at first sight; on the contrary, I didn’t understand what the fuss was about. I wondered why people practiced yoga and what benefits they had in doing so.

As the interest in the new and unknown got the better of me, I decided to read books, attended to different yoga classes and tried different yoga studios. Little by little, yoga started to grow on me and my mind and habits switched as I embraced the yoga mind-set. So far, this journey has not been easy, but I have changed for the better and my passion for yoga has become stronger.

So much in fact that I now find myself organising my after work free time around my yoga classes and I wake up happier if I know I will have a yoga session scheduled in my daily timetable. 

That being said, I guess it is only natural that about a month ago I decided to take it a bit further and started a personal yoga practice. I didn’t think much about it, like what asanas (yoga poses) I wanted to do or what sequence I would have follow. I just set my alarm earlier than usual and prepared my yoga mat in the living room. I decided to practice early in the morning so my mind is fresh and I could set my intentions more easily, without the worries that normally arise during the day.

To be honest, I thought that I would have some difficulties waking up 40 minutes earlier than the usual; I guess I was really excited by this idea, that I could not wait to test it.

30 days later, here are the positive effects that I discovered throughout the challenge:

• I wake up happier, knowing that the next 30 minutes or so will be dedicated to myself, my body, my mind. As soon as my alarm (silent alarm) goes off, I move into the living room where my mat is already waiting for me; I open the curtains and the windows and inhale the morning air. No sounds can be heard, only the chirping of the birds and footsteps of early worker leaving the neighbourhood to go to work.

• Thanks to the first point, the beginning of the day is soft and gentle and my practice follows the same cadence. I listen to my body and mind, trying to understand what I need in that moment; if it’s only some gentle stretching, or some more strong balance and strength testing.

• Physically I am stronger and more flexible compared to when I started. Honestly, I didn’t experience a huge change; I didn’t become a professional contortionist, nor do I consider myself an experienced “practiser”; but I know what my limits were and I confirm that I have overcome them.

• Not only my body has seen some differences, but my mind too. I am now more calm and focus on the present. Let me just explain that my practice is not only about poses and stretching, it’s about mindful practice. Focusing my mind in the moment, noticing little changes in me and connecting breath and movements. Doing so I have started to fully practice yoga, integrating the physical with the spiritual side. Also, because I am leading my own practice, I am completely aware of what is happening in and around me.

• My morning yoga practice has become addictive. I cannot wait to wake up earlier and enjoy my alone time. To tell you the truth I am initially annoyed by the alarm (lucky I have chosen a silent model, I cannot stand the very noisy ones), but once that moment has passed and I have washed my face with chilled water, I am ready to go.

• I now wish that I could practice longer but I am not sure if I would be able to wake up ever earlier. We all need our specific hours to sleep, and I don’t know your habits, but if I don’t sleep my necessary hours, a pounding headache starts pumping in my head. After all, a good night sleep is the best way to start an amazing day.

In conclusion, what for me has started only as a challenge has now became a morning routine and I honestly believe that everyone could enjoy a little daily yoga practice; there is no need to be an expert, beginners are welcome to try as well.

There is plenty free online material that can help to find your personal route; we need to remember that yoga is not just about asanas, but about intentions that we set and willingness to discover ourselves.

Here are few books, DVD-set and free app which helped me to deepen my yoga knowledge:

Bringing Yoga to Life: The Everyday Practice of Enlightened Living, Donna Farh.

First book that I have ever read about yoga; it opened my eyes on how yoga is not only a fitness routine but a philosophy to embrace and include into our lives.

The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali, Patanjali.

Not an easy reading, be advised; but definitely worth doing so. Excellent book that enhanced what I learned with Donna’s book and has deeply tough me how to bring yoga from the mat to my everyday life.

Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving Into Stillness, Erich Schiffman.

I have started reading this book just before deciding to introduce my personal practice. Easy but powerful book, Erich explains asanas and breathing with stages for all yoga levels. There are also practice routines at the end of the book that I found very helpful.

Elements of Yoga: The Collection with Tara Lee (3 Disc Set), Box Set.

I bought this DVD set 3 years ago and I still use it from time to time. When I started to deepen my yoga knowledge and I could not join a yoga class but I had free time at home, I followed the 3 DVDs starting with “Earth”, the foundation of the set.

DownDog app: Fantastic studio-like yoga experience. This app randomly creates new flow sequence every time you access it. Perfect for when I just want to be guided without overthinking it.

This is what I have experienced after my 30 days challenge. What are your discoveries? Have you started a personal yoga practice? Feel free to share your journey and feedback, I will gladly read those.