It’s been a while since I discovered the benefits of yoga. But when I started I was (still am) a rookie. Since I was not ready to dive into classes with a lot of people and not so much space, I tried something at home: I signed up for the 30 Days of Yoga challenge by the Yoga Teacher Adriene, from Yoga With Adriene. It turns out I found out a bunch of things about Yoga and myself.

 

1. Breathing is the core business and I’m bad at business.

With this adventure I found out I was breathing wrong. Truth be told I found out I might have been bad at breathing all my life. I think swimming practice was the only time I actually forced myself to breathe properly… and even then, I struggled.

During the #30daysofyoga challenge I often found myself holding my breath and I had to constantly remind myself to breathe. Ten days into the practice it got better, but it still helped that the video reminded me sometimes.

2. Savasanaaaa and I’m asleep.

Savasana or the Corpse Pose is one of the most important poses in Yoga – it’s the first step to focus and the last step to relaxation. The first problem to me is what you can call “monkey mind” my mind just wandered through dinner plans, to do lists, laundry, outfits, books… and so on. It took me some time to be able to focus only on my breath and on feeling my body stillness.

Other than that, it’s important to share that I am a light sleeper and I always struggle to fall asleep. But something funny started happening. Since sometimes I didn’t have too much time to just stay in Savasana at the end of the practice, I started doing that in bed, before sleep. I think you can guess what happened a couple of times: I actually fell asleep very easily in that position.

Yoga 1Adho mukha shvanasana downward-facing dog pose

3. Balance is the key and I have no clue where’s the key.

My balance is crap, this is no news to me. But doing this yoga challenge I got frustrated several times because I kept losing my balance. I blame my crooked escoliosic backbones. I tried everything: looking at a fixed spot, thinking about my foundations, focusing on my breathing… sometimes everything was helpless. But after some time I got better. It just happened, I realized that I was balancing more easily and shutting down my pre-conceptions that my balanced sucked.

4. “Be still” never worked for my parents.

Next to breathing correctly, standing still – just standing still – was the biggest challenge. I am so easily distracted that it was actually very hard to focus on my breath and nothing else. I had to train my mind to think that it was ok to just be still, not doing anything. I had to forgive myself for not being productive and believe that that moment of stillness was just as important as doing the dishes.

Yoga 2

Trikonasana triangle pose

5. It is a proper exercise.

Hell yeah, planking and all. You’ll feel it. Your muscles will feel it – that soreness all over is there the next day. But if you yoga through it it will go away after some time. It can get hard, it can break a sweat, it will most definitely make your muscles shake sometimes. But that’s a good thing. I was under the impression that yoga was a soft excuse for some stretches and meditation, but it turns out is a proper exercise.

6. It does help.

You do feel more relaxed afterwards. For me it helped to forgive my selfishness: taking that time just for me. It helped me with my balance. It really makes you more aware of where you stand and I do believe it builds your confidence. It helps to shift your focus when you are nervous because of an interview of a meeting or a presentation. It can also be a great way to easy tension when you are anxious and can’t sleep.

Yoga 3  Vriksasana tree pose

7. Making time is the hardest thing.

It is. There will always be buses to catch, dishes to wash, laundry to do. You have your work, you are tired, you have soooo much to do. Yes, I know. But just make the time. Force yourself to make time for it. It’s hard, but if there’s a will there’s a way. I stuck with the challenge until the end and sometimes it was so hard, I arrived late home, had to cook, had to clean the kitchen… I often found myself putting on my pajamas and squeezing the yoga practice right before collapsing in bed, already late into the night. To some people it might be easier to do it in the morning, but to me it didn’t work.

8. You have to be more stubborn than lazy.

You have to be strong and stubborn. Yes, stubborn. I had to be stubborn with myself in order to make it until the end. I’ve also committed to post one pic per day on Instagram, as a way to add the responsibility of “pleasing the followers” or “proving the ones who didn’t believe it wrong” – the sense of obligation might not sound appealing but it comes in your advantage, trust me. It might come as a surprise, but the knowledge that you are taking good care of yourself alone, is not enough.

Yoga 4

Virabhadrasana II Warrior two pose

9. It helps if you have a funny teacher (Adriene is funny).

Sometimes you are really tired and not feeling it. It’s okay. Sometimes you are frustrated because you can’t do it perfectly, you leg doesn’t reach that high, you are constantly losing your balance. And you resent the practice, you resent yourself because you suck at it. In these times it helps a lot if you have a funny mentor. I found myself cracking up in the middle of a pose because of something Adriene said. Choose your “guidance” carefully, otherwise you are just creating a trap to yourself.

10. You really have to “find what feels good”.

The good thing about this challenge is that it is not strict. you can move, you can laugh, you can roll your eyes. The important things is that you feel good doing it and that you feel better after you’ve done it. I know I did. In fact, I felt so good that I never stopped doing yoga ever since.

Yoga 5

Virabhadrasana I Warrior one pose

 

Photos were taken on the Vättlefjäll Lake.