Friday was day 26. I practice yoga 26 times in 30 days. In a few days, I’ll turn 26.

I didn’t realize the significance of these numbers until this weekend. Participating in a 30-day yoga challenge was my birthday present to myself — a wonderful birthday present!

I used to think Julie was a bit crazy when she’d tell me things like, “I just practiced 12 days in a row, so I’m not going to yoga today.” The most I’d done myself was probably 6 or 7 — until the beginning of September.

To be honest, my decision to do this was not much more than an afterthought — a quick decision, and even then, I wasn’t sure I’d really do it.

On Sept. 1, there was a fun event at the yoga studio, leaving me feeling pumped about practicing that month. And then fellow yogi Allison (read her thoughts here) was excited about the challenge, so I said sure — I’d do it. Oh, and I so appreciate Allison’s perspective on yoga. Thanks for sharing what’s on your mind — and your mat! You’ve motivated me to share my thoughts as well, so here goes.

So, I jumped right in and spent time practicing yoga the next 10 days straight. I was enjoying myself, until the 10th day. That was the day I decided I needed a break. I know rest is so necessary. This was my first realization of the 30-day challenge: I could power through as many classes as I could, but eventually, my body was going to tell me to stop. And it did.

That 1oth class was grueling. I woke up tired, dragged myself to the studio and muscled through most of the posses … waiting for savasana, the final resting pose. Then, I went home, refueled and rehydrated, watched U.S. Open tennis and took a wonderful nap.

Two days later began 11 straight days of practice. This stretch included some great classes and some OK classes. None of them was too overly difficult to make it through. Realization No. 2: my body could feel great one day and not so great the next day. Just like the first, I had already known this truth, but it was definitely amplified when I was getting on my mat about the same time each day and could clearly feel the difference. Many teachers have stressed the importance of listening to one’s body and honoring what it needs each practice. So, I focuses on doing this each class throughout the month.

In the midst of the 11-class stretch, I got to practice on the birthday of a friend of mine who passed away eight years ago. It’s hard not to remember his birthday. It’s just something that has stuck with me. That morning, though, as I recalled the day’s significance during yoga, it renewed my purpose for being there and in living my life. Despite how tired I felt and how much I really wasn’t feeling the moving and breathing, I could, so I did. I gave it everything I had because I ought to give life everything I can. There might not be a tomorrow. Yoga is teaching me — and Zach continues to remind me — to enjoy where I am this very moment, to not wish I were somewhere else. That’s No. 3.

In this experience of attending a yoga class almost daily, I saw my practice grow, and this challenge was helping me grow as a yoga student. A few months ago, I didn’t believe I’d ever do a  head stand. I did not especially like this one position called crow (an arm balance). Then, I slowly got the hang of those. And, I’m still getting the hang of them. But I feel stronger and more sure of my body, even when I have to work at some tricky pose. I like the working at it. It’s a process, and I enjoy this type of learning and pushing myself. Oh, it also teaches me to be patient. That’s something I’m not good at … and a topic for another post.

I saw my progress in my final class — No. 26, which was wonderful. Each day is different on my mat, but this day was definitely a high point. There was music, which always helps. And, I just gave it all I could. And I felt really good about that hour … and incredibly relieved that my weekend would mean rest and time to regroup after focusing so much on yoga in the past 30 days.

So, that’s all I’ve got. I think I left it all on the mat. Thanks so much to all those who cheered me on! I am looking forward to a more relaxed practice in the near future.


***I just had to add a photo of Nathan. He really wanted to do some yoga on the trail as well. (We went to the Morton Arboretum on Sunday to spend some time among the trees and with each other.) After he snapped one photo of me in dancer’s, he suggested I do tree pose. Love him.

Nathan and dancer's pose.