When Dara, the owner of Sacred Brooklyn, suggested I sign up for the 30-Day Challenge, I paused and said, “Ok.” It seemed like a perfect way to begin 2012, a year that for many represents a time of great transformation. Some believe 2012 presents the possibility for cataclysmic events and dramatic change so I thought, “Let’s get prepared. “
Initially, the 30 days of free yoga seemed to be the main reward for completing the 30 Day Challenge, but 28 days in, I know for sure that the benefits are much more profound than a free yoga class. Ironically, an article really critical about yoga circulated heavily throughout the blogosphere. Concerned about this crazy-yoga-everyday-for-30-days-thing Toni is doing, a few loved ones brought the piece to my attention. The article was imbalanced, made generalizations and did not speak to my experience at Sacred Brooklyn. I could, however, write an article with a similar amount of criticism if I were to share my opinions of the way some teachers of Bikram yoga approach the practice of teaching, but that’s for another day. Right now, I want to share the beautiful and surprising ways that my 30-Day Challenge has helped me deepen my relationship with myself:
- Daily yoga means daily planning. I had to plan my juicing, my eating, my sleeping, my commute around the city, washing my yoga clothes, packing my yoga bag, my performing, my meetings and appointments, my work, my phone calls, my social life—all around yoga. This landed as odd for some people in my life, but others were impressed even inspired.
- I also discovered how little self-love I practiced when it came to eating and consuming enough food. If work came up, work would be the priority not making sure I ate. It’s difficult to exercise without food because food is energy and fuel for the body. I have an immune system that demands special care so it is just not possible to exercise everyday and not eat consistently. Now, my 30-Day Challenge for February is the practice of eating small meals and snacks four to six times a day.
- One of my biggest life lessons has been around the concept of boundaries and being able to say no. The lesson has been about me knowing how to prioritize myself, my time and what I need to do for me. As a person who has often felt responsible for others, for the world’s problems, I have struggled with this issue off and on for years. This month I have left meetings, shortened lunches, rescheduled studio sessions and appointments, ended juicy phone calls, passed on invitations, rearranged deadlines—because I had to go to yoga. This is a new year and definitely a new me!
- My motivation for practicing hot yoga when I started Bikram four years ago was for physical reasons, but I’ve maintained my practice because it is good for my mental and emotional health. A passionate, heart-driven, super-sensitive, overly emotional creative, I also have a tendency to live inside of my head. Yoga in the hot room gets me grounded, present and into my body so I am living with my feet on earth, with my heart and mind connected in a more balanced way. A mind is a terrible thing to waste and can be a dangerous place if it’s not properly taken care of. The clarity that this 30-Day Challenge has provided feels so good.
- Too often our health challenges can be so frightening that we exist in a frozen state of worry where being in action gets really hard. The balance between surrender and making it happen can be a fine line to walk. I’ve been dealing with fibroid tumors and all of its related symptoms, as well as, sensitivities and allergies I’ve had my entire life. A woman’s body experiences so many shifts and changes every seven to ten years. It’s sad how little these major experiences that are so common are discussed in the public sphere. I feel like I’ve been in school learning about a body, my body, things that I should already have been taught. Going to yoga class through the physical pain and other challenges required such mental focus and deliberate intention. Accepting the days where I had to give 80% because 100% wouldn’t have been safe was a practice in patience, acceptance, discipline and most importantly, humility.
I’m sure that as the challenge comes to a close, more benefits will be revealed to me, but the discoveries have been paradigm shifting. There is absolutely nothing easy about taking on a “challenge”, but once the hard part is over life gets a little easier. Maybe ‘easy’ isn’t the right word here-life gets better. We get to know ourselves better, we better understand ourselves, our ways, our habits and beliefs, and when we can be honest about where we are not honoring ourselves we begin to treat ourselves better. 2012? We 30-Day Challengers are ready for all 365 Days of you. We accept you, embrace you and powerfully step up to the other challenges in our lives. Namaste.