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30 Days of Yoga Done. Now What?

April 27, 2011

For years, I have wanted to be one of those people disciplined enough to practice yoga at home. Finally, I took on a challenge to practice 30 Days of Yoga, which ended this weekend. This is how it went.

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The first few days were….interesting. I wrote about them here. Some days were better than others for sure. At the beginning, it was difficult not to feel guilty and self-critical when I did not practice every day. We can be hard on ourselves when we don’t meet our own tough standards. What helped immensely were Marianne’s daily emails. (Yep, 30 of them.) It was like she was reading my mind. Just as I started to get annoyed with myself for skipping a day, I would get an email saying ‘be gentle with yourself if you can’t do it today’. When I started thinking some background music would be nice to practice to, lo and behold, an email would appear in my inbox with song suggestions, and so on. Seriously, it happened all month. Cosmic, man.

I also veered away from the set practice routine I had chosen at the beginning of the course. Some days I did a little more, or a little less, or something altogether different. During the week I traveled over Easter, I did not do a single day. Yes, I felt bad about that, but more importantly, within a few hours of landing back in Beirut, I was on the mat again. Instead of giving up and letting it slide, I reset my intention and began again.

Gradually I began to feel more in tune with what my body needed each day and began responding to that. This, I think, was the most important lesson for me, and is something that carries through into life off the mat.

Some thoughts about yoga class vs. home practice.

  1. It’s definitely liberating to be able to do what you want at your own pace, like just sink into a pose that feels amazing and stay there…for….ever… On the other hand, having a teacher present to correct alignment, introduce new poses and challenge you to try something that you might be too scared to try alone is a definite plus.
  2. The group energy of a class can be motivating, but there is also sometimes a certain competitiveness in the air that can tempt us to push ourselves a little too hard. (What??! Yogis with egos? No!) At home, no one cares if you can’t twist yourself into a pretzel. But how about this, you can practice and practice in privacy until you can outpretzel them all at your next class. Ha! Take that!
  3.  Pajama yoga. Definitely the unsung perk of home practice.
  4.  Mindfulness. This is the best benefit of all, and where I’m going to sound a little crunchy and new agey. Bear with me.

The thing about practicing yoga alone is that you learn to focus. In a class, the entire class keeps moving even if , while you are upside down, you are wondering what’s for dinner, or oooh she has a nice mat wonder where can I get one… At home, if you let your thoughts wander, your practice virtually stops. It takes persistence and discipline to learn to quiet your mind, breathe, and pay attention to what you are doing so that you get the most out of it.

I don’t know when, in our evolution as a species, concentration became so difficult, but I’m sure it has never been as hard as it is today with the amount of information we are expected to process all day long. Sometimes I feel like our generation has the attention span of a mosquito and it’s hard to get my own mind to stop racing. I imagine that athletes would say the same thing about martial arts and other sports; that the act of concentrating on the physical motions frees the mind from this information overload and gives it a much-needed rest.

The meditative aspect of yoga makes it even more so, and its vocabulary reflects this; you repeatedly hear the words “surrender, let go, breathe”. Even as your limbs shake and you break into a sweat in the toughest poses, you are always reminded to listen to your body, not to push too hard, be gentle with yourself. As I’ve said before, there is a fine line between kindness (to yourself) and self-indulgence, but deep down we know when we really need to take it easy, and when are just being a lazy bum.

As Marianne said in one of her emails: “Sometimes I forget what I need to do to be well. Sometimes I remember, but the resistance in me is stronger than the acceptance, so I don’t do what I know is good for me”. When we look at our own actions without judgment or blame, we can better understand where the resistance is coming from, try to absorb it and ultimately dissolve it. (I’m not sure you can ‘dissolve’ resistance, but you know what I mean, right?)

So what’s next?

Well, there is so much to learn about this deep and ancient art, the physical practice is simply one aspect and I’m only a beginner, so I would not stop going to classes. However, these 30 days have shown me that it’s not so hard to integrate some home practice into my week, if only a few stretches and moments of meditation each day. The point to remember is that a little bit goes a long way.

Some days I will not get to it, but that’s ok. Baby steps. One day that pretzel at the front of the class will be me. Oh yeah!

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Joanne permalink
    May 5, 2011 4:47 pm

    Your pajama Yoga practice could possibly inspire a new movement or school of Yoga. (LoL) Continue to inspire us and bring giggles to light up our day. Hooray Hana !

  2. Roya permalink
    May 13, 2011 6:45 pm

    Hana thank you so much for the 30 days yoga link, it is great experience , i almost finished but enjoyed every part of it. The best moment is when i put my pyjama on, get ready to go to bed, do my yoga and then without a word going under my duvet and sleep… better then 3 hours of exercices, 5 massages and 10 hours at the psychologist 😉

  3. May 9, 2013 6:49 pm

    Very good info. Lucky me I recently found your blog by accident
    (stumbleupon). I’ve book-marked it for later!


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