I remember the first time I did a 30 Day challenge – it was when I really got my teeth into Yoga and noticed big shifts happening in my practise as a result! So I really encourage all of you to rise to this opportunity, doing it with the support of a community really helps keep you on track…
But I wanted to share a few pieces of advice for those of you that are already wincing at the idea of committing to 30 days of chaturanga, or those of you who begin all fired up but find for whatever reason you can’t make it to the studio (or even onto a mat at home) at some point during the month. After all, in John Lennon’s words, ‘Life is what happens when you are busy planning for something else’.
The greatest gift you can give yourself in this challenge is to solidify the foundation of a SUSTAINABLE Yoga practise, not find that by day 15 you are gritting your teeth and come day 30 you never want to see a yoga mat again.
Taking it down a level in class: as many of you know quite a lot of our classes are pretty fiery vinyasa flows, but if the idea of even a downward dog – let alone the chaturanga and upward dog that often precede it – is putting you off coming to class don’t let it! You are actively encouraged to take what you NEED from a class, this might mean stepping straight back to a downward dog from a forward fold during vinyasas, or simply resting in child’s pose instead. I know I am not alone in having spent entire classes in child’s pose, with perhaps just joining in with some of the more restorative poses such as hip openers, or taking a few energising back bends, before returning to a more shavasana like state. Please be honest with yourself and give yourself what you need. Think of Yoga as a long term investment, perhaps you ease off one (or more) day(s) so you can come back the next days ready and willing for a more dynamic practise. A yoga practise rarely develops in a straight line, it tends to be more cyclical, waxing and waning often in tandem with whatever else we have going on in our lives. However its usually through this cycle that we end up with the knowledge and skills to deepen a practise in the long run – I think you’ll be hard pushed to find a long term Yoga practitioner who tells you otherwise!
Embrace the home practise. A home practise does not mean guiding yourself through an elaborate one hour vinyasa sequence, perhaps you just take yourself through a few rounds of your favourite sun salutation variation and then some of your favourite, or least favourite, postures. The fruits of a home practise are different from you what gain in a class environment, its an opportunity to really take your time in certain challenging postures applying the knowledge you have gained in class to understand the pose better. Or perhaps focus on your nemesis pose, that challenging posture that you keep evading (or it keeps evading you). Maybe you find after committing to it for 30 days you are able to do it, or I can at the very least guarantee you will have improved on it! As always, feel free to ask any of the teachers on guidance with how to work safely and effectively on any pose you may wish to focus on, and if your teacher takes requests for classes then ask if it can be added into the class sequence!
The I have no time/energy practise. This is when you can introduce the joy of Bed Yoga into your life! Now before I elaborate on this somewhat glorious practise, its really important that you commit to it as a Yoga practise, ie to establish a connection with the asana and develop internal (physical and mental) awareness often best achieved by connection to the breath. Basically if you are just in the shape, but reading a book or sending a text, it doesn’t really count as Yoga! Some of my favourite bed poses include long held twists (first dropping the knees to the right, then the left to compliment the flow of the digestive tract). supta badha konasana: lying back, perhaps using your pillow lengthways as a bolster under your spine, and bringing the legs into a diamond shape with feet touching, again resting here for a slightly longer period of time. Cumulatively you may notice some big opening happening in your hips over the minutes and/or days you practise. Legs up the wall: just heavenly! A great way to calm down a jittery nervous system or a busy mind, especially for any insomniacs. Its easiest to get into but sitting sideways against the wall, then shimmying round so your legs extend up the wall as you lie back. There are options to place a pillow under your hips to create a little bit more of an inversion. Also some nice variations include making it into a wide leg pose, you may be surprise by how much wider you can make the straddle with gravity working in your favour, or even crossed legged or badha konasana legs (diamond shape, feet touching)!
So good luck to anyone whose decided to take on the 30 Day Challenge, I really look forward to seeing some of you in class!