I Did Yoga Everyday For 30 Days - Here's What Happened.
I've never been a 'yoga person', but when the pandemic hit and I started working from home I decided this was the perfect time to try and do yoga every day for 30 days. Here's what happened and while I will continue doing yoga every day.
Spoiler Alert: I did not lose 15 lbs or find the meaning of life - sorry to disappoint you. But that’s not to say nothing good came of it.
There are a million of these articles floating around online already, so feel free to move on to the next person who does think it changed her entire life if you prefer - though I remain skeptical of anyone claiming that it did. But since I was doing the challenge anyways, and I am the managing director of EAT SMARTER, I figured I might as well write about it.
Let me begin by saying I was never really a ‘yoga person’. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to be. I’ve gone to countless yoga classes over the years, everything from Vinyasa, Iyengar to Hot Yoga. I’ve had memberships to Yoga Works and religiously went to Bikram Yoga with my best friend in high school (before having dinner at IHOP, so you can imagine how that went). But I never really got into it. It just didn’t feel like ‘my thing’. I always wanted yoga to help me find my inner peace and become this meditating, chiller, no makeup-wearing version of myself (you know - the kind of girl you see all over social media #yogalife). But here’s the thing: I’m already pretty laid back. I was never the loudest or wildest person in the room. Sure, I can be a bit type A, but at my core, I’m a creative who has no problem going with the flow. So honestly, I found yoga classes to be a bit boring.
I always gravitated towards the more ‘active, powerful’ forms of exercise. I religiously went to kickboxing classes before my wedding - which was, and still is (sorry - yoga) my favorite form of workout. I’ve dabbled in CrossFit and used to drag my husband to do HIIT workouts with me. I like the kinds of workouts that make me feel like I’m dying while I’m doing them, but like I can conquer the world after I’m done.
When the pandemic hit, both my husband and I, like so many others, stopped going into the office and started working from home (and in general spending 97% of our time at home). During the first couple of months, I felt like I was more active than ever before. I was swimming more, going on constant bike rides with our rambunctious 2-year old Labrador and I even learned how to skateboard (don’t worry - I am not, in fact, a teenager). But as time went on, I found myself spending more and more time on the couch. It was time to shake it up!
I saw someone on Instagram do a 30-day yoga challenge at home, and I figured I have nothing but time on my hands, nowhere to go, and nothing to lose. So, that was it. I was doing it. I’m pretty good at sticking with these kinds of challenges once I commit. I did a 30 days of no refined sugar and gluten challenge once and ended up doing it for 2 years if that tells you anything.
I didn’t set myself a specific amount of time I needed to hit and I didn’t do it with the goal of losing weight. For me it was more about just getting on the mat and doing something for myself every day. That means some days I did 60 minutes of more active, vigorous power yoga, and some days only I did 10 minutes of slower yoga, more focused on stretching than anything else.
So here’s what happened:
- I became stronger mentally. As most challenges go, I started out strong. I did YouTube classes, downloaded lots of yoga apps, and wore yoga pants all day long (RIP jeans). And then somewhere in week two, my motivation started to wane. I had to force myself to get on the mat even when I didn’t want to. But I did. Every. Single. Day. I reinforced a lesson that I had learned so many times before. The act of getting on the mat (or going to the gym, class, whatever) really is the hardest part. When I was feeling extra unmotivated, I told myself that I just needed to do 10, 15 minutes. No hard poses. I used this trick even when my husband and I went camping for a weekend and the last thing I wanted to do was yoga in 100-degree weather outside in the dirt. Once I was actually on the mat though I normally ended up doing my full routine, hard poses included. It’s all a head game, and really committing to doing something every single day teaches you to become stronger mentally and to push through even when you don’t want to.
- I became more active. Obviously. That was kind of the point. But it extends beyond my daily yoga. Doing this one active thing every day, has made me want to continue being active throughout the day. Sure, I still spend a lot of time in front of the computer but I also spend more time outside now. I go on more walks with our dog throughout the day and pester my husband to go on more bike rides in the evenings.
- I learned to listen to my body better. As I mentioned earlier, I always preferred workouts in the past where I could just go all out. Yoga taught me to pay more attention to my body. Where do I feel tight today? What hurts? What feels good? And then focus on those parts. Now that I have a good understanding of poses and flows, I do a lot of yoga practices on my own (without following an instructor on youtube or an app) and it’s helped me adapt my practice to really focus on what’s good for my body that day.
- I eat healthier. I have always cooked at home a lot, but the act of spending 30ish minutes every day listening to my body has made me want to pay more attention to what I put into it. As cliche as this sounds, I feel more connected to my body.
- I feel more grounded. Pandemics are stressful. We are living through uncertain times, no one knows what the world is going to look like next year, let alone next month. Combine that with being cooped up inside all the time and feeling like we are always ‘on the clock’, and it’s no wonder we are all a bit more stressed than normal. This challenge has given me a little bit of time every day to myself to just breathe, stretch, and not worry about the state of our existence.
- I have less shoulder/neck/back pain. This one is kind of a no-brainer. I have always carried my stress in my shoulders and neck and I all too often wake up with back pain. Spending time stretching and moving in a gentle way has made me feel less tight.
- I feel accomplished. It always feels good to finish something you set out to do, and this is no different. I feel proud of myself, and confident that I can tackle other challenges, even if just for 30 days at a time. Because at the end of the day, you can do almost anything for 30 days if you really commit at the beginning. Whole30 here I come!
So now what?
It’s been 7 weeks now since I started the challenge and I’ve continued doing yoga every day. Yoga didn’t change my life, it didn’t make me into a ‘new person’ and it definitely didn’t make me supermodel skinny, but it did change me in subtle ways that I’m proud of. I’m not sure I’ll ever truly feel like a ‘yoga person’, but I do enjoy the routine and the benefits of it, so I’m sticking with it for now. Who knows, maybe I’ll go for 365 days of yoga.
If you've been thinking about doing a similar challenge, or just trying yoga out in general. Just got for it! I highly recommend it. I can't guarantee that you'll reach all of your goals, but I'm sure that something good will come out of it.