Tuesday, 6 February 2018

What I learned from doing yoga every day for 32 days



I discovered Yoga with Adriene about a year and a half ago, and like everyone else I was immediately enthralled. I have never been into yoga -  I remember taking some classes with my Mum as a teenager and falling asleep at the end, and as someone who loves intense exercise, it's always felt a bit "nothing" to me.

It also doesn't help that I am incredibly inflexible. So not only was I not into it, I was rubbish at it.

I think it all started in my usual post-half-marathon injury time which seems to happen every single October when I push myself too much in my autumn race, and I was looking for something to do while I couldn't run. I'd seen a few people recommend Adriene, so when I was looking for yoga workouts, hers seemed like a friendly face.

I instantly loved her.

Ask anyone who has ever done a Yoga with Adriene workout and their face will light up. Adriene is just the BEST. She is sunny without being sickening, funny without trying too hard and an incredible teacher without making you feel inferior. She's fun and she makes you laugh, and you know she just wants you to be able to do a great job! She makes yoga easy to understand, and more importantly, she makes it fun.

I've wanted to do a full 30 days of yoga for a while, her 2018 series, True, is her third 30 day challenge, but with running and coursework and everything else I'd never managed to squeeze it in, but I decided this year I was going to do it. Yoga every day is a big commitment, and the hardest part for me was deciding that if I was going to do it, I was going to do it properly, and for a month I was going to do it as my primary form of exercise next to BMF and parkrun. I'm not in training so I decided to prioritise it midweek over running, which has been really hard, and focus and push myself like I would any other workout. 

So I used my Productive app to ensure I did my yoga every single day and focused primarily on doing it in the morning, with the exception of a few times at the weekend. The practices vary in length from 20 to 45 minutes, and the practise lengths are available in advance, which was perfect for me so I knew how early I needed to get up each day!

Annoyingly, the practises went online at about 8am and I tend to do mine at 6, so I was always a day behind, so I did an extra practise on the 1st and 2nd of Jan before starting the series on the 3rd so technically it's 32 days of yoga for me!

What I've learned from 32 days of yoga

  • I can do it every day
I've always had an excuse not to do a 30 day yoga practice before and it usually came around fitting in other workouts, or training for a race, so now was a good time to challenge myself to see if I actually could do it every day while I'm not training. I still did BMF twice a week and parkrun on a Saturday, but I managed to fit it in every single morning before work, and a couple of afternoons and evenings on the weekend. 
  • I had to put it first though
I considered trying to run first a few days in the week and then do my practice, but I decided if I was really serious about completing 30 days of yoga in a row, it had to be my priority over running.
  • It is a good workout
Another thing that always put me off was the idea that it wasn't a "good workout" and that I should supplement it with a run or a high intensity session or strength training, but it is genuinely a good workout on it's own! I was sore and tired and my heart-rate was up a lot of the time, and I liked that it was about "finding what feels good" and not just pushing yourself all the time into uncomfortable and painful places (like BMF!)
  • And I am getting stronger 
At the start of the month, I hated downward-facing-dogs because my arm strength was non-existent, but by the end of the month I didn't have to take breaks and found the position fairly comfortable. I no longer struggle with anything on my arms, or planks, and found myself able to keep up constantly towards the end, where I'd struggled at the start.
  • You don't need to be flexible
I am horribly inflexible. I can't even touch my toes. I think this was one thing that always put me off yoga, and while I still can't touch my toes, I have become slightly more flexible, and I haven't found not being flexible a hindrance - Adriene always gives you plenty of options if you can't quite get there.
  • It does wonders for my mind
With the odd couple of wobbles, I've been in a really good place this month and I really feel like daily yoga has helped. It's a nice, soothing half an hour of my day and I can't imagine starting a weekday without it right now!
  • I don't always enjoy it - but does that matter?
I have to be honest, I do find myself looking at my watch sometimes - and that's okay! I'm still getting used to it, and I do find my mind wandering 10 minutes into a 45 minute practice, but I'm okay with that. It's taken some time to get into the routine so the next thing I need to work on is my focus.
  • I feel great after
Even if I've not especially enjoyed a practice, taken breaks or found it hard, I always feel really great afterwards, and that's what's pushed me to keep going even when I haven't wanted to. I've been reminding myself how good it feels and it definitely works!
  • It's one of the best ways to use my morning
I get up most days between 5.45 and 6am, usually do a run or a workout or yoga, and then I give myself from about 6.30-7 to read, write my newsletter or generally get bits done around the house. For the past 6 months or so I've done a yoga practice on a Monday morning, but most of the time I've just done a quick 10-15 minute practice just to get it done. What I've realised throughout this is I can do 40+ minutes in the morning, and as much as I love that reading and relaxing time, this is probably a better way to use my time and my brain. I don't know yet if I'll be able to combine it with early morning runs when I start training for my next half next week, but I need to remind myself as much as I love to read in the morning or write my newsletter or blog, yoga is probably the best way to spend that extra 30 minutes of my morning.
  • I love the variety
Every session of True has been completely different - some more relaxing and meditation-based, some more challenging. I've learned a lot about yoga and what I'm capable of this month and it's amazing that Adriene put together 30 brand new yoga videos for the month! I'm definitely looking forward to doing this programme again from the beginning because I know it wouldn't get boring. It's really well constructed too - each session builds on the previous so you feel real progression as you work through it.
  • I love Adriene
Adriene has a kind of cult-like following and it's easy to see why. She is absolutely amazing - funny, encouraging, kind, an amazing teacher - I feel like I know her. Her relaxed and fun attitude is what makes her yoga so accessible. It's not serious or painful - she encourages you to find what feels good and understand that your energy levels will change from day to day. I honestly believe she is the reason I've managed to stick with yoga - I enjoy my time with her every day!
  • I want to keep going
I really want to keep yoga as part of my routine. I don't know if every day will be possible when half marathon training starts next week, but I want to try to do yoga at least three or four times a week, for my mind if nothing else. Even if I don't always enjoy it, I feel so good after and it feels like an important thing to carve out time to do for myself, so I really want to find a routine where I can do it regularly as I know it makes a big difference to my mental health.

So far I've managed to keep it up into February (so far, today is the first day I've just been for a run and I'm already thinking about getting a quick 10 minutes in this morning!). I never thought I'd stick with yoga, or enjoy it, but it's such a great exercise for the mind, and it's really helped with my anxiety. While I know it's not a "cure" or a quick fix, if you have an overactive mind like mine, I highly recommend giving it a try.

Hit me up on Twitter if you want to talk about it!

Charlotte x

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