The Home Stretch – Building a simple daily yoga practice

In January, as part of my new year overhaul, I decided to start practicing yoga. While I have tried yoga in the past, the pros of practice were always quickly outweighed by the cons and I’d quit as quickly as I’d started. My own personal list of yoga cons included:

  • Being around too many ‘yogis’ – if I managed to make it through a class without suffocating in sanctimony, I would leave the studio mortified at my comparable inflexibility.
  • Trying to fit it into my schedule – classes (especially suitably beginner classes) were always at the wrong times, as if yoga studios care not for the working ‘stiff’.
  • Pushing myself consistently towards injury to avoid embarrassment, then ruining all the effort by letting out an ill-timed fart.
  • The cost of going frequently enough to see any difference.
  • 60-75 minute classes have always seemed too long to me. Maybe I will get to a point where I can focus for this long, but it isn’t going to happen all at once!

Still, I like the benefits of yoga and the way it allows me to focus on my body.  I’ve  also become increasingly paranoid that my lack of flexibility at the age of 38 means that I’m going to seize up into some permanently hunched crone by the time I’m 50. So I decided to take matters into my own hands.

I figured that the best way for me to start doing regular, embarrassment-free yoga was to do it at home. I don’t know enough to just put a bunch of poses together so I needed an aid. At the risk of appearing to shill product, I’m going to shill a product because I love it. I purchased the Gaiam Yoga Studio App for $5.99. It has 3 different levels (beginner, intermediate and advanced) all of which have several options for style and length of class. It also has the option to combine the poses you prefer into your own special classes. The very fact that all I had to do was spread out my mat and press a button on my phone was enough to get me started.

In the month of January I tried the 15 minute classes and a few of the 30 minute ones. I managed to do yoga 13 times, which might not seem like a lot to most but for me it was a triumph. Such a triumph in fact, that starting in February I aimed to do yoga every day. Barring a sick day and two horrible hangovers (I regret nothing) I was a success. I did 22 days worth of 30 minute sessions (some were even intermediate!). One day I did a 15 minute session and on two days I even managed to do an hour. An hour is still too long.

Now it’s March, and the goal for the month is the same. I am going to try for all 31 days, 30 minutes a day. The motivation is certainly strong. Before I started doing yoga my hips were so sore that I was seeking out massage every two weeks and paying to see a physio. My hip and shoulder pain were also bad enough to affect my sleep. In two months they are virtually non-existent and I have quit getting massages and physio. At the end of 2016 my anxiety was crippling. Now it’s almost non-existent too. This isn’t entirely due to yoga – I’ve also had time off, started meditation, and altered my food and booze intake – but this daily practice certainly doesn’t hurt. And I’m starting to notice increased definition in my body and an increase in confidence as well! I really couldn’t be any more enthused.

I’ll keep a record here of how it goes, but so far this feels like one of the most positive changes I have made. I just need to work on persevering, and pushing through the days where I’d rather lie corpse-like in bed than on a mat.

 

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