I did 30 days of Yoga with Adriene – here's what happened
I won't lie, this blog has been sitting on my drafts for way too long, so much that I thought about scrapping it. However, even though I am now much further along in my yoga journey, I decided to publish this anyway. Then I can still share any updates as the year goes on and see if/how my feelings towards a regular yoga practice change.
My journey with yoga has been a long but not-so-consistent one. I can't even remember when I was first interested in it, but I know it took me years to finally begin. I started off doing yoga at home a few times but it wasn't until I attended a class in 2019 that I fell in love. That class was the first time I saw yoga the way I see it now: as a meditation and a moment of love for my mental health, rather than a way to make my body stretchier and stronger.
Like with anything related to exercise or moving your body, I think you should go at it with the mindset that works for you. But seen as I have a history of bad mental health linked to the way I look, I only have a truly healthy relationship with exercise if it comes from a totally different place. This is why up until yoga, I'd only ever been consistent with doing pilates, because I did it to heal back pain from bad posture, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, not because it'd make me look a certain way.
So at the end of 2019, I did a few in-person classes, and they helped me with my at-home practices. But even though last year I found a true passion for yoga, I still never managed to be consistent. I'd do it every day for a week but then stop doing it for two, and no matter how much I loved it and how much I saw a difference in my mental health after each session, the consistency just wasn't there.
That was when, in December, I decided to do Adriene's monthly calendar. In case you don't know, every January, Adriene (from Yoga with Adriene) does a 30-day series of brand new videos centred around a word, an intention. And then from February to December, she puts together monthly calendars with existing videos on her channel. Because I knew there'd be a new 30-day journey in January 2021, I thought I'd gear myself up by doing the December calendar and, although I didn't manage to do all 31 days, I still did pretty good and it made me have the consistency I was looking for.
Now, this blog post is mostly to talk about January's BREATH – a 30-day yoga journey, but it is also to serve as a time-capsule for the start of my own yoga experience. In January, I did all 30 days (I actually started this daily practice on December 30th, but BREATH started on January 2nd) and my life is absolutely changed.
The main thing I love about Adriene is that not only she calls this a journey, not a challenge, but the goal is simply to show up every day. That's it. You don't have a goal for the end of the month, to be able to do a certain pose or for your body to look like anything, you're already succeeding if you simply show up for the practice each day. And that is my absolute favourite thing. I tried doing exercise programs at the beginning of lockdown but I never succeeded because they promised a flat stomach at the end of two weeks, or an hourglass shape by the end of the month, and I knew I'd never get that. But with BREATH, I knew that showing up would be enough. And I can't tell you how good it's been to be on the mat every day.
I do think I might be stronger and more flexible, but I genuinely only noticed the good it's done for my mental health. I'm much calmer, less anxious, and I feel a lot more present. It's showed me that I can be disciplined and properly do something consistently as long as I make time for it and do it for the right reasons (for me, anyway). I also feel more confident, and that was something I didn't even expect to change. I feel a lot more grateful because, even when I had a shitty day, I got to meet up with Adriene before going to sleep.
This has made yoga such a huge and fundamental part of my life. I've carried on and my new goal is to do it for a year straight. Because the biggest change has been that, when last year I'd have to push myself to do it, now it's become routine, like getting up or brushing my teeth. It's part of my day and it isn't "oh shit, I still need to do yoga today" but "oh, it'll soon be time for me to do yoga again". I feel grounded and content and more like myself than I've felt in a very long time. And no matter if I've had an awful or tiring day, I always leave the mat feeling better and accomplished, even if it's simply because I did it, I showed up.
If you want to get into yoga, the few tips I can share are to find an instructor you love (or a playlist you enjoy, if you'd prefer to do it freestyle) and a time of day to do it consistently. In the beginning, I wanted to try and do it earlier in the morning, or even in the afternoon, but I'd only show up right before bed. That's accidentally become a routine but it helps immensely to do my yoga at the same time each day. Find what time works best for you (maybe it's right after waking up) and stick to that at least on most days – it'll make it easier to keep up. And the last tip is just to figure out why you want to do yoga, and, whenever you don't feel like showing up, remember that. But also accept that if you've given it a proper shot and didn't enjoy it, there's no harm in letting go.
I wanted to write this post to share my new-found relationship with yoga, but also to perhaps motivate you to find something that brings you joy, and do it just because. Give yourself a simple goal: to do it as often as you can. It doesn't have to be every day, but go at it with the mindset that just showing up is enough. Because it is.