Earlier this week I was chatting with a good friend of mine about exercise and how what we do for exercise is going to fluctuate just as our health and lives fluctuate. What I mean by this is, we have to accept the fact that we will not be able to perform the same form of exercise or exercise to the same intensity throughout our whole lives. Of course, age plays a role in this fluctuation, that’s an obvious, but our health plays a role, too.
Our bodies are always changing, our health is always changing, and what we do for exercise is going to have to change in response to that, as well.
As I shared a few months ago, I have struggled with my health this year. In fact, it’s been just over a year of feeling unwell as my health started to decline in October 2015. Through this time, I have had to come to realize and accept that I was not able to workout the way I had been for the past few years – my health changed, so my activity level had to change, too.
This isn’t always the easiest thing to accept. I have a healthy relationship with exercise and fitness. My exercise obsession is years behind me, thankfully, but I am passionate about it nonetheless. Nothing can give you quite the same feeling as having a heavy barbell on your back or gripping a barbell and deadlifting twice your bodyweight off the floor. If you lift, you know what I’m talking about. There’s truly nothing like it.
But, with my declining health this past year, I had to take a step back. My body was fighting for health and healing, so I needed to respect that. It’s 7 months and counting since I did a deadlift or lifted anything remotely heavy, but I know it’s necessary in order for my body to heal and I’m ok with that.
In order for my body to heal and feel good on a regular basis doesn’t mean I can’t exercise at all – we were meant to move, but it’s important to find the form of movement that allows you to feel good now, in this moment.
Daily walks have allowed me to feel really good in my body for the past few months, but in October I felt a calling to commit to a yoga practice. Luckily, one of my good friends, Candace, was offering a 20-day yoga program on her blog, which was specifically designed to jumpstart your yoga practice. If that’s not perfect timing, I don’t know what is. So, I started day 1 on October 10 and, for the first time in my life, did yoga for 20 days in a row.
I honestly didn’t know if I would be able to stick with the schedule for all 20 days. I’ve tried to commit to a regular yoga practice before (many of times), but always got bored with it or never felt satisfied, so it never became a regular thing for me. This time was different. Not only did I complete all 20 days, but I looked forward to it every single day, I couldn’t stop talking about it, and I noticed so many changes, some that I didn’t even expect!
My Experience and Results from the 20 Day Yoga Program to Jumpstart Your Practice:
The program requires you to choose a pose to work on throughout the 20 days. I chose crow pose because this was a pose I loved, but wasn’t able to hold longer than a few seconds. I also wanted to work on my form, as I was resting my knees too heavily on my arms, which you don’t want to do. In crow, you want to use your core muscles to keep your legs light and lifted rather than resting on your arms.
By day 3, I was already seeing improvements. I was able to hold the pose for much longer and my form was slowly starting to get better.
By day 11, I was completely comfortable with my crow pose and, for the first time ever, was able to hold side crow pose, too!
Below you can see my progression with crow pose. The top right picture is day 1 and the top left and bottom are day 11, when I was first able to do side crow and felt very comfortable in crow.
Not only was I able to see progress with the pose I chose to work on for the 20 days, but I also noticed a release in tension. At the beginning of each yoga practice, I scanned my body for where I was holding tension the most. At the beginning, I noticed that I held the majority of my tension in my jaw. My jaw was always clenched at the beginning of my practice, until I was mindful of it and released it. By the end of the 20 days, when I scanned my body for tension before my practice, I could not sense any tension in my jaw any more! It was amazing. The 20 days of yoga truly helped me release a lot of the tension I was holding within, specifically my jaw.
As I mentioned, I honestly didn’t think I would stick with the whole 20 days. I didn’t set any expectations for myself, but I stuck with it because I actually thoroughly enjoyed it and that is key – we have to enjoy what we are doing.
Now that the 20 days are over, I have no intention of giving up my yoga practice. Like I said, I truly looked forward to my daily yoga practice, so I will continue doing it as it allows me to really connect with my body and appreciate what it can do.
For November I decided to work on jumping out from crow pose as I wasn’t able to do this in October when I attempted. I will continue to practice yoga every day this month, whether that be a quick 5 minutes or a full practice. I usually follow Candace’s videos as I find them so easy to follow and love her voice. I’m also looking forward to the arrival of her book! I will definitely be using that to deepen my yoga practice, too! My other good friend, Sara Lou, is also another amazing resource for yoga and I do her videos, as well. Check her out here.
I would love to hear from you: Do you follow a regular yoga routine? What is your favourite yoga pose?