Reflections on a Month of Yoga

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Ever since Hushpuppy was born, I’ve been inconsistent – to put it kindly – on my exercise routine. It happens when your life gets completely flipped over by a little person who needs constant watching and round the clock attending to. But, Hushpuppy is a toddler now, and I’d started to feel very down about the fact that I have not even begun to look or feel like my old self physically and, in many ways, mentally.

I started practicing yoga about eight years ago, and since then it has always been important to me. During the late stages of pregnancy, I was at the yoga studio sometimes four times a week, and I felt stronger and more mentally centered than I ever had before in my life. So, naturally, I wanted to turn to yoga for the kick in the pants I needed to get myself physically and spiritually back on track, and Yoganic‘s March Yoga/Pilates Challenge was that push.

There was no requirement with the challenge to practice everyday, but I set that as my goal. I would not be able to make it to a class daily, as there were just some days where childcare availability and class schedules didn’t mesh, so on those days I practiced at home and sent in a picture. In addition to daily yoga, I set a few other goals for myself:

  • Set a positive intention for the day every morning. These intentions were always something simple that I could come back to throughout the day. I used “be grateful” a couple of times, as well as “find calmness.” My favorite that I came back to on several occasions was “smile.” It could make a huge difference in my day, during a moment of frustration with a toddler tantrum or maybe a glass breaking, I could just say “smile” in my head, let a smile come across my face, and my whole attitude changed.
  • Limit myself to one cup of coffee per day, drink a green smoothie every morning, and drink at least two bottles of water per day. I made my nutrition goals fairly modest, as I knew I was taking a lot on and wanted them to be realistic. These three small changes did a lot to give me the energy boost I needed for the month, and I’m working on keeping them up.
One of my favorite things about the challenge was that, with an unlimited pass to the studio, I could take a chance on trying out a range of different styles and classes. When you practice on a sort of catch-as you can-maybe-weekly basis like I do, it’s easy to get tied to just a regular Hatha class, and not branch out, as it’s tried and true. There’s nothing wrong with Hatha, but I had so much fun playing at Yolates, Relaxation & Meditation, Pilates and one of the most interesting ones was Yin Yoga, in which you hold asanas (poses) for up to five minutes. Yin, I found, was hard work, but really more of a mental challenge than a physical one (though, I did feel it the next day!). Near the end of the month, Yoganic’s lovely owner Melissa offered a candlelight yoga session for Earth Hour. That was absolutely dreamy. I felt like a human pillow at the end of it.
It wasn’t always easy, though I often seemed to find a boost when needed. After the first week, I was exhausted. In my head, I was doubting whether I could go all month without a day off. It was a big change to go from sporadic practice to daily exercise. On that day, I was taking a class I’ve attended for awhile with the Leisure Centre. It’s not affiliated with Yoganic and my instructor didn’t know I was doing the challenge. At the end of the class, he said, “you’re looking stronger.” It was exactly the thing I needed to hear. If there was one thing I wanted out of this challenge, it was to come away stronger, and for him to tell me that propelled me forward. Another day, Hushpuppy woke up at 4:30a.m., and I was so cranky with her and exhausted. I put her in front of the TV for a bit, and I sat there thinking grumpily about how I didn’t want to bother with setting an intention – I was just too tired and annoyed. But then I realized that I needed to set that intention today more than any other day. I told myself to find joy in the day. And, once I found my one cup of coffee, I did!
One day a week, I attend Mums and Bubs yoga with Hushpuppy. We’ve been going since she was about 8 weeks old, and it’s a special part of my week. One week during the challenge, the class was cancelled, so needing to find a practice for the day, I decided to gather up Hushpuppy and even Partner-in-Crime and we went to the park for our own Mums (and Dads) and Bubs sessions. It was a magnificent hour, and really special family time. 
By the end of the challenge, I was uplifted. My clothes were feeling a bit looser, I had a lot more energy, I’d learned a lot of wonderful little tips to help my practice from all the different instructors I’d been working with, and I felt strong. I bought a six month pass, and vowed to keep up my practice (maybe not every single day, but far better than I have been doing), now that I’ve proven that there’s always a way to fit it in. It’s a gift to myself, and when I’m strong, centered and remembering to smile, a gift to my family, as well.

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