Yoga is an education in the human spirit. Yoga is not about the perfect pose. Yoga is about waking up to the truth of who you really are.
– Kino MacGregor
A healthy habitual task with free yoga? Count me in. It involved 26 online yoga classes from OmStars – the ‘Netflix for yogis’ co-founded by Kino.
She led one session a week, while the rest were taught by a plethora of brilliant yoga teachers on OmStars. The other four days were rest days, which included nutritious recipes and meditation.
As well as the actual yoga, you had to take a photo of yourself in the pose of the day and pop it on Instagram.
Here’s how I got on:
It started off nice and easy – there was even a spot of chair yoga. And with minimal plans in January (because Dry Jan) it wasn’t hard to keep up the daily classes. Having a different yoga teacher every day, and focusing on something new every day, really kept things interesting. So far, so good.
From yummy yin yoga, to calming the vagus nerve (never heard of it either), things were still fairly gentle. I found the encouragement from my friends and the yoga community on Instagram very motivational. I also connected with as many of the teachers as I could – and some of them even reached out to me too. Such a supportive, soulful tribe are the yogis.
Things definitely ramped up. I hit a metaphorical wall during a really hard power yoga session. I wondered how I would keep this going for 2 more weeks. That all changed later in the week; I tried some new poses I never knew I could do, and made great progress with headstand. This was all inspired by Koya Webb on day 19, who said:
Just give yourself permission to go further whenever you’re ready. So you’re always moving forward in your yoga practice…and in your life.
The experience level jumped massively with six sweaty days of Ashtanga yoga. Kino eased us in with a shorter session, introducing the concept of ‘one move for one breath’. But as the week went on, the classes got longer, the pace picked up, and the asanas became more advanced. I attempted some of the poses beyond my level, but mainly I just gave up and gazed at the screen, in awe. These ‘encouraging’ words from by David Robson on day 26 really sum up how taxing it got:
1…2…let the suffering in…3…don’t try to pretend, 4, 5.
It’s supposed to be hard…1…no one’s ever died here!…2…but it feels like it might happen right?…3…just stay with that feeling…4…5.
I didn’t complete the last few Ashtanga classes. I physically had nothing left. The only session I did this week was meditation. But what an experience it was. Dennis Hunter‘s loving-kindness guided visualisation was so emotional that I had tears running down my cheeks. I still carried on with the photo challenge, despite not doing the classes. For the grand finale, I did a headstand without the wall – for the first time ever!
What I learnt
- Sticking to one healthy habit helps you stick to others: Throughout the yoga challenge, I also meditated and wrote in my diary every day, got up earlier and ate healthily. The structure helped me develop a good routine, which I’ve managed to keep up since. Self-discipline is just like a muscle – you need to exercise it.
- Perseverance is key: To begin with, I looked forward to my daily dose of asanas. But when things got harder, and life got in the way, the yoga started to become a chore. But I kept at it. Even if I couldn’t practice one day, I caught up the next. I was so glad I did, because now I feel stronger, more flexible and happier than ever.
- The importance of listening to your body: During Ashtanga week, I was so achey I just had to give myself chance to rest. And since finishing, my hip has been hurting a bit, so I’ve been a lot more mindful of hip-openers. Even in group classes where I often feel the need to push myself harder, I’ll take good old child’s pose whenever I need to. Yoga is for you, not for anyone else.
Thinking of taking on a yoga challenge?
If you get chance to take part in one, I definitely recommend it. Not only will you improve your practice and reap the benefits of yoga (read 8 reasons why yoga is awesome), you’ll learn a lot about yourself. Much like a yoga retreat, but in the comfort of your home.
Yoga Panther x