Today was the 30th day of my Yoga Challenge. I did yoga every day for 30 days. Some days it was a vigorous practice. On others, I did a long yoga nidra. But, I did something every day. I listened to my body and did challenging practices when I needed the energy, and I did relaxing practices when I needed to relax. Tonight I did a more relaxing practice since I didn’t started until 8:30. I needed to wind down for bed. But I wanted to check-in and celebrate the end of my challenge.
I am going to keep doing the yoga. I like the way it makes me feel, and it’s rather easy to do. I have decided that I don’t like the really fast-paced yoga that is so popular these days. I like the slower, strength-building yoga. When I started the yoga challenge on April 13, I said I would measure 5 things:
So, here goes:
Strength – I feel much stronger. I especially feel stronger in my core, and my joints feel much more stable. I don’t know if joints strengthen, but I can stretch and open without so much wobbling and shaking going on. I also am moving very smoothly through transitions where I used to be more wobbly and unsure of myself. My arms can now do many chaturangas. In the beginning, I had to rest through the last few in a class.
Flexibility – I am more flexible in my hamstrings. I think I would be even more flexible if I hadn’t overdone it that first week with Monkey Pose. I ended up overstretching, and they’ve been tender ever since. It causes me to back off, but I’m going to just take the time I need. My spine is definitely more flexible. Last night, I popped up into 3 consecutive wheel poses, and I felt free and light between my vertebrae. When I first started, my back was pretty tight. And, my hips are way looser than when I started.
Sleep – I’m sleeping really well. I wasn’t sleeping well when I started. My sleep started improving, and, even when I didn’t sleep as much as I like, I did my yoga nidras, and they reset me. They say the yoga nidra replaces a couple of hours of sleep, and I believe it. When I have insomnia, I get up and practice, and I don’t really feel like I’ve lost that much sleep. That being said, lately I’ve been getting great sleep. I can also thank my sugar cutbacks of the last week, but I was starting to sleep better as soon as I started the yoga.
Links to my Favorite Yoga Nidra Practices
Emotional Stability – I haven’t been writing a lot about it, but I have had a LOT of big things going on in my life lately. Plus I had a rather exhausting trip to Michigan last week. In the past, these kinds of stressors would send my anxiety over the edge. My anxiety has been extremely low given the circumstances of the last month. If nothing else, that improvement should tell me that I really need to do yoga regularly.
Energy – My energy has not increased as much as I thought it would. I guess I’ve had energy to practice, but I haven’t felt super energetic. I do get up and walk my dog every morning now at 5 AM for an hour, so I’m doing better with that. That’s partly because of the good sleep I’m getting, too. But, I would like to see my energy improve.
I would say the challenge was a success. I learned a few things and got back on track in several areas. I know that I want to continue the yoga, but I’m also getting anxious to do a little extra strength-training for my arms and a little running. It’s heating up down here, so I won’t be running a lot, but I’d like to pick up the pace over walking. Hopefully the yoga has stretched out the kinks and provided enough of a different kind of movement to heal my injuries totally. I look forward to easing back into it in whatever way suits me.
Most importantly, the challenge game me a change of pace. My exercise became much more inner-focused rather than focused on my body. Although yoga is a very physical practice, for me it really is an inner practice. I get less worried about how much I’m doing and more concerned about how I feel. I push through less and honor where I am. I think that may have bled over into my life a bit, too.
Tonight’s practice was designed to stretch me out and get me ready for bed. We did a lot of crescent lunges, twists and hip-openers. We carry a lot of tension in our hips, so it feels great to work them and stretch them out before sleep. And twists help me let go and melt into softness. Ashok is already snoring, and I’m getting ready to be. One thing’s for sure – I look forward to going to bed now that I’m not tossing and turning all night. That’s truly a blessing.