CW: references to body image.
Yoga is something I tried out last April, in the UK’s first lockdown. I attempted the 30 Days of Yoga challenge, starting on April 1st, but found it extremely difficult to complete within the 30 days, and instead did it over almost two months. To be fair to myself, I had fainted a week into starting the challenge, falling on my chest which left me with a bruised chest (quite hard to do cobra with this injury!).
With spring slowly showing its colours, and with the stress of third year building up, I decided it was time to give regular yoga another go. On February 1st I rolled out my mat, eagerly excited to see what Adriene had in store for me in 30 Days of Yoga Camp. If I’m being honest, I did not think I’d manage to uphold daily yoga throughout the month, so I tweeted it out to hold myself accountable (can’t disappoint the Twitter followers, after all).
The mantra of Day One is ‘I Accept’. What I love about Adriene’s videos is her friendliness, making me feel completely at ease as I twist my body in some (sometimes odd) positions. On the first day, I accepted my body, and I accepted the possibilities which Yoga Camp offered.
Out of the 30 days, a couple of practices have stuck with me. Day 6 is titled ‘I Am Supported (Six Pack Abs)’, which was a little offputting. I have never worked out, so I have never felt the burning sensation of abs during exercise. Day 6 was, therefore, a bit of a surprise for me. I woke up the next morning with quite a lot of pain in my abs, but noticed that it had definitely made a difference to how my body looked and felt.
Another difficult day was Day 15 – the half-way point. The mantra for this practice is ‘I Am Open’, which doesn’t give much away about the type of practice it is. I had never done a half moon pose before, and my calves were burning – but I did it! Another great part of Adriene’s videos is how accommodating she is, meaning I never felt guilty if I had to leave a pose early, or take a child’s pose for a minute.
The final day is 40 minutes of free-style. Adriene practices for 40 minutes herself, but instead of spoken instructions, she lays over some calming background music, leaving you to find your own way. I started the practice at 10.30pm, with the aim of only doing about 15 minutes before bed. But, before I knew it, I was 20 minutes in and not ready to stop. Although I much prefer having Adriene guide me into positions, it was fascinating to see how many postures and transitions I had picked up and remembered from the previous 29 days.
I didn’t start this challenge to ‘improve’ my body. I started this challenge to aid my mental health, in a time where the days were blending into one and I spent 90% of my time hunched over my desk. However, upon finishing, I am noticing definite changes. My legs have more definition, I can see the muscles in my arms, and my posture has hugely improved. Though my right shoulder never fails to creak and grind each time I move it, it now rests far from my right ear, and the tension has eased.
Maybe one day my heels touch the ground in downward dog. And, maybe one day, I’ll be able to go into crow pose without face-planting my mat. However, for now, I am happy where I am. Yoga has improved my flexibility, and made the month of February fly by.
I look forward to starting another 30 Day Challenge by Adriene. Whether you’re a yoga newbie, or have been practising for years, I wholeheartedly recommend giving 30 Days of Yoga Camp a go! You can find it here.
Image courtesy of Dane Wetton.