180 days of yoga

Last week, I completed my 6th yoga challenge. Each challenge lasts for 30 days, so that adds up to 180 days of yoga! I was quite surprised to realize that I had done 180 online yoga sessions this year. I can say that this has become a new routine in my life and no longer requires much effort. This got me thinking: why did this change succeed while others don’t always? Is there an interesting lesson or message about how to sustain change? I explored this and would like to share my experience with you.

During the first lockdown in March, gyms suddenly closed, and I couldn’t attend my regular yoga class. Additionally, I started working from home instead of the office, and my daily movement was reduced to a minimum. I quickly felt that this was not very healthy for meβ€”I became stiff, tired, and got headaches. A friend and I came up with the idea of doing the 30-day Yoga with Adriene challenge. This meant doing a yoga session every day, ranging from 20 to 45 minutes. So, we started this together. To motivate each other, we agreed to text each other when we completed a session βœ…. Yes, it creates a sense of guilt if you skip it, and as soon as the other person completes it, it provides extra motivation. Now, we are four friends and have our own yoga challenge WhatsApp group.

The first challenge wasn’t easy, with many planks and other challenging poses that were quite painful for my not fully recovered shoulder. However, the beauty of yoga is that it’s not about performance; it’s more about being and doing what suits you. I soon noticed results, not only physically but also mentally. I usually start the day with a yoga session, making me much calmer in my mind and more relaxed when starting work. Additionally, I had started with healthy eating, and I found myself wanting to eat only healthy foods, resulting in a weight loss of 13 kilograms during this period.

In the summer, the challenge arose when restaurants reopened, and social life started to resume. Less time at home meant less time for yoga, and we occasionally started skipping days. This didn’t motivate us much and gave a feeling of failure. So, we reduced the frequency from 7 lessons per week to 5. This way, we had 2 ‘joker’ days per week and still stayed on track. From there, things went well again.

The most significant difference was observed in the first few weeks, especially seeing how quickly there was a difference in strength and flexibility. Even the shoulder was nearly pain-free after a few weeks. This is incredibly motivating! The challenge was to remain motivated after that initial period because you don’t notice as much difference. So, maintain the focus on what it brings rather than feeling obligated to get on the mat. Interestingly, I found that if I skipped yoga for two consecutive days, I immediately felt more stiffness and eagerly wanted to return to the mat!

Another significant milestone was achieving the ‘crow pose,’ an advanced yoga pose. I had thought that I would never be able to do it. Naturally, I’m not strong in my arms, and this pose seemed too complicated in terms of balance. But hey, nothing to lose, so I tried calmly each time and also accepted that if it didn’t work, that was okay too. Suddenly, after 165 days of yoga, I succeeded! It felt like a beautiful reward, and secretly, I was a bit proud of myself.

Source: yoga with adrienne

But what is the secret to sticking with it? I was curious myself, which is why I wanted to write this blog. Clues naturally came up:

  1. Do it together! It makes you feel more obligated to do it on days when you don’t feel like it. It’s also fun to share experiences.
  2. Opportunity: Due to the lockdown, there was a lot of opportunity to do yoga, making it easier to stick to.
  3. Motivation: Feeling stiff and lacking movement motivated me to start.
  4. Focus on the progress you make. Celebrate your successes instead of focusing on what (still) hasn’t worked.
  5. Realistic goals: Initially, doing 7 days a week was manageable, but when ‘normal’ life resumed, it became challenging. Instead of getting frustrated that the 7 lessons per week weren’t achieved, we reduced them to 5. If you then do 6, it feels like a bonus rather than having done 1 too few.
  6. Accept what is: This is perhaps the most important and aligns with the yoga philosophy. I wasn’t so focused on achieving results; I found it more important to take care of myself and do something that suited me. Often, certain exercises didn’t work, and that was fine; then, I looked at the things that did work. In other words, it couldn’t go wrong, at most, it could be different than expected.

In conclusion, I highly recommend everyone to start doing yoga. It’s not esoteric, and your body does get stronger, as does your mind! Since group classes are currently not possible, and we spend a lot of time at home, I would say, give it a try. Namaste πŸ˜‰