Happy 2nd of December all! 🎄💫🌌(I'm literally drinking Christmas coffee all day long and wearing nothing but ugly Xmas sweaters 😎)
As I'm writing this, Christmas is just around the corner and I sit here in my kitchen, surrounded by the year that has been and the snow outside, sort of wrapping me up in a blanket of warm healing light. This feeling sort of reminds me of Alexander in the Ingmar Bergman movie "Fanny & Alexander" looking at his odd yet loveable family dancing around in their house at Christmas, he seems to be filled with a sort of pride and gratitude to at least for a moment be surrounded by love and comfort from the outside world. This year has really connected us with our homes but for many it has caused us to feel caged and limited by outer circumstances. So many of us have sort of "re-invented" ourselves and found new interests and hobbies to do while at home. My kinda new hobby this year was and is yoga. I started to do yoga more frequently back in 2015 but kind of lost the habit. In the spring of 2020 I brought the habit back and it ain't going nowhere, hahaa! This November I started a "30 days of yoga" challenge by Yoga with Adriene or FWFG. This challenge was probably the best thing to take on this year, so naturally I highly recommend you to join me and many others, as the 30 days of yoga will continue now in December as well. This post will be about the process and benefits I noticed in my life while taking on the challenge. If you want that one thing to bring with you from reading this post, then it would be the following: Perfect moments don't exist, just do it!
What? Yoga for 30 Days is a challenge by FWFG that allows you to try out yoga at home for 30 days. There is 1 practice (Youtube video)/day. Each month or each 30 days has its own "theme". The theme of November's challenge was "Ground".
What do I need? Yourself, a yoga mat, a device to watch the videos with and I recommend that you set a time in your daily schedule for when you practice, I recommend doing it either first thing in the morning or having it as a part of your evening routine, but whatever works best for you - will work best for you!
Does it cost me anything? Nope!
How did it feel?
Week 1: I was super excited to get started! I also decided to write down some short notes after each practice to keep better track over my personal progress. I would say that for me the first 7 days went on pretty smoothly. I noticed I felt pretty accomplished and happy, before and after each practice. I decided to match my diet and bedtime routine to the practice around the 5th day. On weekdays, I did the practice in the evening but on the weekend I would do the practice first thing in the morning. My sleep started to get deeper around day 7. Although, the practice felt great mentally my body didn't manage all postures and my hamstrings felt pretty thight. I struggled with a few of the basic postures such as downward facing dog and I had some issues with maintaining a long neck and straight back during some parts of the practice.
Week 2: It was interesting to notice that physically this week was much better than the first week, but I wasn't quite mentally present in the practice everyday! I felt very flexible most of the week and could achieve "the most difficult versions" of a posture easily. However, my mind would just ramble, overthink and wander away and focus on anything but the practice. So, I decided to try and just let those thoughts come and go as they pleased without staying stuck on them. Overall, it felt fairly easy still to step on the mat each day and it had become a natural part of my routine. By the 2nd week I started having vivid dreams and new creative ideas. I also found that I didn't feel drawn to social media or media in general and would rather focus on other things like finding new hobbies to try or how to further expand my mind. This week I also brought back other forms of exercise into my routine and yoga supported hiking and going to the gym very well! It healed all my muscles easily.
Week 3: I started to notice that it was easier for me to live in the present moment and to stay calmer in my daily life. However, stepping on the mat this week was difficult to say the least! The routine was there but the motivation wasn't. I kept inventing ways and excuses to skip my practice but I forced myself to do it anyways because I reminded myself of how great it would make me feel if I did it. I worked out maybe too much during week 2, so I was sore in my body pretty much the entire third week but surprisinly yoga helped with that too! The 3rd week was when I knew many postures by heart and could name them, so that was kind of exciting for me! I also begun to research about the history of yoga and the spiritual side of yoga and I let myself be swept away by it.
Week 4: This was the best week of my practice! I had mastered the yoga lifestyle and finally understood that each practice serves a different purpose and some practices just help you chill and reconnect with your mind and body. I started getting intuitive signs from my body regarding what it needed the most, whether that was a great conversation with someone, rest or a nice meal. The most wonderful thing was however when I laid on my mat after the very last practice and I thought to myself filled with gratitude: I did it! 🙏🏻💪🏻💞
💫 So, What did the yoga practice give me? 💫
Brought me better sleep and relaxation
One of the first and most prominent effects was that I managed to reach a deeper state of sleep. I also interestingly had more colorful, inspiring and vivid dreams. I found that my dreams gave me certain messages that I needed to hear. I also managed to maintain a certain sense of calm in stressful situations at work, which was a very beneficial thing to notice.
Helped me survive the darkness of November
If you live in Finland like myself the winter months despite being fun, festive and cosy can sometimes really play tricks with your energy levels. I have tried many different methods over the years to beat seasonal fatigue or at least learn to live with it. So far, yoga has given me the best results! I felt overall more energy than I usually do this time of the year and that of course resulted with me being more happy and grateful over my life in general which allowed me to offer the people around me a more positive side of life. So a positive spiral effect. (Of course I had some bad days as the overly emotional drama queen I am, not proud of that tho)
Felt like a hug
Doing yoga for 30 days sort of felt like returning to a trusted friend. I noticed that the practice always gives you exactly what you need! Maybe it is the space and time to attend to your own needs and listen to your body, maybe it is just to breathe, maybe it is trying out a difficult asana (posture) or maybe it is the feeling of having a routine. Either way it felt like a nice hug to your entire being; mind, body and soul.
Assisted on my kundalini awakening (you choose what you believe in)
I know some of you out there don't believe in the spiritual aspects of yoga or spiritual awakening in general but if you are looking forward for inner growth on your spiritual journey, yoga every single day definitely will assist you on your journey as the journey can at times make you very anxious and ego death can be so painful at times!
It made me feel accomplished & boosted my self esteem! 🙏🏻
Made me see things clearly & make healthier decisions
I made a few probably life changing decisions thanks to yoga. It may sound very odd but try it out and you'll see how all the clutter just gets cleared away from your mind! It's like I suddenly saw everything and everyone for what and whom they truly are, without my usually idealistic view on everything. I suggest that if you, like me sometimes feel like you let your mind control you too much (yes, you let your mind control you, your mind isn't in control unless you let it) or you find yourself overthinking, then let the yoga mat have your back and leave your toxic thought patterns there. Sometimes you may even get an idea, vision or suggestion for action in the middle of your practice! Suddenly the yoga practice solves a lot of things going on in your mind and life and you aren't even noticing it as you are relaxing and enjoying the practice!
There have been days during which I would have wanted to wallow and cry, to scream of frustration, rather than to step on the mat. Then there where times when I was so tired that my mind was making all kinds of excuses not to do it, but the yoga mat always stared at me like I was crazy and so I started my practice anyways! No matter how bad the day or circumstances. The one thing that made me return to the mat was it's healing effect. And I have a lot of inner wounds to heal. I wonder why but despite all the pain, I choose to stare at my wounds, flaws, traumas etc. and let them fall over me like a wave of pain. And once that wave comes crashing down the healing and purpose of the pain present itself to you. If you are healing fears, past trauma or dealing with your mental health, then yoga is a great way to reach for that deep inner healing, which btw is the only way to win those inner demons for good.
It made me pay more attention to my other habits
Do I run from one thing to the other? Should I start meditating daily? How can I ground myself better in stressful situations? How can I find creative ways to add whole foods to my diet? Yoga has this interesting effect that boost your ability to take care of yourself, it gives you the tools to sort of become your own healer.
Take good care of eachother & enjoy the holiday season! ❄