In December, I decided to try 30 days of yoga…that is, I wanted to do a yoga session of some sort for 30 consecutive days. And: I did it!
(I had no idea this 30 day challenge was a thing until I found this image for my post. The page where I got the image gives some tips to beginners taking this challenge)
The backstory: I’ve done yoga inconsistently since the age of 19 (over 10 years). I first hated it then grew to love it because it challenged my mind and sculpted my muscles when I complimented it with weight training. I learned how to “clear my mind,” but, more importantly, began to understand and appreciate the value of it.
The now: My body hurts. My head aches. It often feels like my neck can’t support the weight of my skull. I recently got x-rays of my spine and saw that the degeneration in my spine has gotten worse, especially in the cervical and lumbar spine. There appears to be nerve impingement in the lumbar spine and the cervical spine has begun to curve in the reverse direction, in a forward curve. I need to “create space,” as they say in yoga, and what structurally needs to happen between those areas of my spine.
Method: Time to stop complaining and start doing something about it! But motivation can be a problem, especially when pain can serve as an excuse to avoid intervention. To curb avoidance behavior, I chose a simple and kind of “easy” routine: About.com’s 30 Day Quick Start Yoga Guide for Beginners.
Results: I did it every day for 30 days and continued for another couple of weeks. I tended to wait until the evening to do it though, when I managed to do it in the morning, I felt relief late at night when I thought I had to do stretching. That makes it seem like I didn’t look forward to it. I didn’t so much. However, as soon as I got started, my body began to relax and I became grateful for the time to focus on my body.
Environment was huge for me. When no one was around (free to play music and look dumb) and I had a corner of floor to myself, it was easiest. Next easiest was ironically on a sailing boat. After the 30 day challenge, I went sailing with friends for a week. I expected it to be a physically challenging trip, so I challenged myself to do yoga on the boat. It actually was easy to integrate into the trip given the environment of part waking with the sun, the openness of the deck, and the sailor-y ok-ness with walking over and around people as necessary.
I didn’t feel awesome at any point during this experiment. I didn’t feel noticeably stronger or more limber. I did feel a little more relaxed, perhaps. The strongest feeling was that I had accomplished something and I was proud that I had done something good for myself. This is one habit I’d like to keep up, even for a few minutes a day.
Review of the program: It’s not great. It’s nicely thought out but the format is either click-through images — which is impossible to do while holding a pose! — or a long list of exercises, which is also difficult to do while in a pose. The better solution for anyone interested in doing at-home yoga is a video, or guided static images that transition. It would be possible to put together a series of videos that go from beginner to less beginner and from short-to-long, depending on the day, but it would take some effort to watch and analyze those videos. If motivation is your problem, I suggest following a set routine.