Movement & Mindfulness: Lessons From My 30-Day Yoga Challenge

Today I completed my 30-day yoga challenge and it feels like a big accomplishment. It has been a wonderful and insightful journey. I’ve realized through this practice that the spiritual aspects of yoga are just as important for me as the physical benefits. I started this challenge during a particularly tough period when everything felt in flux, unsettled and unbalanced, including me. Getting onto my yoga mat every day carried me through to the other side, allowing me to see more clearly and feel more connected to my body, myself, and my life. It has inspired me to continue my practice. Here are a few things I’ve learned:

I can always find the time. For many years I practiced yoga on and off (more “off” in recent years, unfortunately), and let my perception of not having enough time determine whether I practiced, rather than prioritize my practice and make the time for it. Committing myself to practicing every day really helped me understand what it means to create space for what is important to me. It helped me to get perspective – if I can find the time to run errands or have a meeting, surely I can manage to squeeze in some yoga. Setting reasonable expectations helped too – agreeing to do yoga for at least five minutes a day felt doable, and by the time I got on the mat and got into it, I always went beyond that. This really allowed me to take a relaxed approach to my practice, rather than force myself to do it.

I am stronger than I think. Whether getting into crow pose or navigating feelings of worry and doubt about things beyond my control, my yoga practice has helped me see what I am capable of. It has grounded me. Look, aging is real. As someone who grew up with dance and gymnastics, it’s been disheartening in recent years to see how I am getting older physically and have lost a lot of flexibility and strength. Yoga brought me back into my body and all that it can do. Getting present with the core, visceral ways that I carry fear and stuck energy has been eye-opening. Yoga gave me a way to push past my fear – of falling, of failing – and into a place of strength.

Sometimes I need to sit my ass down somewhere. With all the great things about moving to Belize, it has also been stressful and difficult to navigate at times. So much is different in my life and I am seeing changes in myself. On some days, this is cool. On others, I’m kinda trippin’ about it. I’m learning that this transformation is ultimately a wonderful thing. My yoga practice has given me a space to be, to just get into stillness or movement and let go of my need to make things happen as I want them to. It’s also given me a space to release any angst about what I’m feeling and just accept my emotions for what they are without being overwhelmed. Even for just a little while, it is liberating.

My mind is crazy and it’s not my fault. I am grateful for my experience with Vipassana meditation, for those week-long silent retreats, and for my yoga practice for reminding me that the nature of the mind is chaotic. Honestly y’all, the amount of thoughts I have from the second my butt hits the mat is unreal. And nonsense, too. All kinds of criticism and self-judgment, and multiple narratives about everything and nothing at all. Insanity. And doing yoga helps me see this for what it is. It reminds me to breathe, and to keep coming back to the breath no matter what my mind is doing. It reminds me that I am here in this moment.

I just have to show up. This is the big thing. I don’t have to be perfect, or right, or good. I just have to show up. On the mat. In my life. With the people I love. For myself. That is all. And on the mornings when I don’t feel like doing yoga or much of anything, and I remember that I made a commitment to myself, and I put on my yoga clothes and roll the mat out and just get on it, I know I have already done the most important part.

Earlier this week I was able to do yoga outside on Jamaul’s porch for a few days. There was so much green and sun and it was quiet. He took a few photos of me while I was practicing. I never get to see myself while I’m practicing and it was so great to look at them and witness my progress, to appreciate the strength of my body. I liked them enough to share.

P.S. I also just noticed that this is my 30th post, on the same day I completed my 30th day of yoga. Hooray for that too!

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