Every year since I started following her, Adriene Mishler (Yoga with Adriene on YouTube) does a thirty day yoga challenge to kick off the year.
And every single year since I started following her, I start it… but never finish it.
Why? Honestly, I make up excuses for why I shouldn’t take time out of my day to focus on myself and get on the mat for a practice. Year after year, this happens.
That is my word of the year, though: focus. Focusing on me, my happiness, my overall health, and the things that bring me joy. One day, maybe a week before the challenge started, I was talking with my step-mom about 2021 and we had both told each other we wanted to start focusing more on our health. I knew that my step-mom had done Adriene’s challenges in the past so I said, “how about we do it together this year?! We can be accountability buddies! Like just text each other after we finish our practice and such.”
That was that. We decided to do this year’s challenge, called Breath.
My big reason for doing this was to help get a good stretch in and improve my core strength. 2020 was the year of insane back pain for me and I’m still trying to nurse it back to health.
We kicked off our challenge a couple of days late, as my husband was heading overseas shortly after the first of the year and I wanted to spend as much time with him as possible before. I believe we started our journey on January 4th!
Within the first week, I started to not feel well. To the point where I needed to call in sick to work so I decided to not do yoga that day. But I swore to myself that I would pick up where I left off the very next day. I’ve said this to myself in the past, but this time would be different because I had my step-mom as my partner in this! I knew she wouldn’t let me go too long without a practice.
I got into the habit of doing my daily practice before bed. I didn’t really notice a difference in my quality of sleep, but it did help me relax and wind down before bed.
I missed one other day, on January 27, when I received my first dose of the Moderna COVID vaccine. I received it around 8 am that morning and by 8 pm that night, there was absolutely no chance I was going to be able to do a downward dog. I texted my step-mom to let her know and her response was, “Thank God because I am exhausted today!” We obviously agreed to rest that day and picked right back up the next day.
Some practices were short, sweet, and relaxing; some practices were more intense and got our heart rates up! My favorite practice was the Love one because Adriene said something that just hit me: “I hope you begin to feel the love that you deserve.” Anyone who knows me knows that I am incredibly hard on myself and have spent a lot of my life believing that I’m unworthy of any sort of love. Over time and through a lot of therapy (and boundaries and surrounding myself with the right people), I’ve learned that I do deserve love. Sometimes, though, I “relapse” in this type of thing and that’s been happening lately. So when Adriene said that I felt like she was really speaking to me!
Each practice, I had Zeke, my German Shepherd mix, right next to me. I usually can’t workout with him near me because he gets really hyped up because he thinks I’m trying to play with him! This time he surprised me and would lay next to me. Anyone who has done Adriene’s videos knows that dogs are a huge part of them, as Adriene always has her dog Benji hanging out in her videos.
We finished our thirty days on February 4. I’ve noticed many changes during this challenge, some physical and some mental. First, my back pain has decreased, which is a relief. I can stand for a few hours straight without feeling too much pain. My overall muscle tightness has improved and I can even touch my toes in a forward fold! I’ve mastered being able to tie my breath to movement.
Also can I just mention how much I enjoyed talking to my step-mom every day?! Some days, we’d just send a text saying, “All done!” But then other days, our conversations were longer than that and were about more than just yoga. Doing this challenge with someone made a huge difference for me and I feel blessed to have a parent who wants to do things like this along with me!
Most importantly, I’ve been able to embody the word I set for my 2021.
I have spent the last 30 days allowing myself time to set aside everything and focus on myself; to show myself and my body some love. It was the perfect way to start 2021 and made me realize that I need to focus on myself more.
Moving forward, I might not do a yoga practice every day, but I plan to do it a couple of times per week because I want to keep the flexibility and core strength I gained over the past thirty days and I think this is also a great way to show myself some love.