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February 5, 2019

The 30-day Yoga Challenge I Didn’t Complete

My intentions were true, my goal was clear and I still didn’t complete the 30-day yoga challenge at my studio… or did I? I’ve never been one for New Year’s Resolutions but for some reason, I got on board with this one.

The studio proposed to its yogis to take classes, post an image of yourself in the pose of the day, a positive quote on Instagram, and take a few workshops offered during the month of January. Each action was associated with points and whoever had the most points at the end of the month won a free year of yoga. Now that was motivating especially since yoga can be so darn expensive in the Bay Area.

I went at it earnestly taking classes daily, excited to wake up to see what the pose of the day would be and how I would tackle it, snap a photo, post it and get points. While I was no stranger to posting on social media, posting selfies, in general, I wasn’t fond of but in yoga poses was quite intimidating! I am not exactly a long and limber contorting yogi.

Soon I realized there was no way I was going to win the ultimate prize of a free year as I looked at the point chart at the studio. There were people going to yoga 2x a day! Who has time for that?! Each class was packed so even if the class was 1 hour you had to get there at least 20 min early and including drive time it was about 2 hours total. That’s a lot of time away if you have a family. I decided to approach it differently and more mindfully. It was not about winning, but about the experience.

I admit while the results were solid, each individual class posed its mental and physical challenges. Some classes I was angry at the teacher for “suddenly” changing sequence into a super advanced pose or being squished between two very thin, younger, able-bodied bendy yogis. The competition was not around me but inside my own mind. Other classes my mind and breath flowed together, in synch and I was at peace with each pose. I realized so much about the challenging poses were about surrendering the mind into nothingness. It became such a daily inward journey which permeated into my world outside of class. I was able to carry the peaceful vibe into my daily life and approach challenges more calmly.

I know that the mind is way stronger than the body in many cases, on good days it’s accepting, loving, content where the physical is able to go but on a bad day, the mind battles negativity, body dysmorphia, and sometimes deep anger or sadness. I remained committed for 20 consecutive days in the physical yoga class but the yogi journey continued.

A planned class in San Francisco with a daily commute for 5 days from 9–6 pm had me too exhausted mentally to attend early or late yoga classes. I don’t know why I thought I was superhuman and still in my 20s with boundless energy. Plus, I heavily relied on my husband to manage all my home tasks plus his own some of which included meals and loving on the children. Which meant as soon I was home, I was back in mom role making up for lost time.

This was no ordinary class but a deep exploration into understanding the self and how to coach others. The Enneagram class allowed for the collective neurosis of each individual to show up and explore the depths of our personalities. We all obsess, worry, and have our own unique weirdness in our humanness and it was as if this ancient system knew all of us before we knew ourselves. Each day was jam-packed with a combination of self-exploration and coaching techniques to help others. It was another way to be mindful and introspective.

While I did not complete the whole 30-day in studio physical yoga challenge, I completed a month of mind-expanding, observing, noticing, understanding myself more deeply. It is a continued practice, scratching of the surface and coming home to my deepest self. The fire within burns in my depths to understand myself and how I show up in the world in every moment and in every situation to know thyself is to live life fully. And I went back to the studio when my body and mind were ready.

My own strategy is to keep cultivating the witness, that part of me that notices how I’m doing it — to cultivate the quiet place in my that watches the process of needing approval, of the smile on the on the face, of the false humility, of all the horrible creepy little psychological things that are just my humanity. And watching them occur again and again and again. — Ram Dass

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