July Feature: Completed and Converted

OCD Support

There you have it: one man, one month, and a whole lot of yoga. I completed my challenge — yoga (nearly) every day in July. There were a couple rest days, a few classes unfinished and more Child’s Pose than I care to admit, but I made it!

The Home Stretch

This week I tried my hand at a handstands and inversions class. It was the first class in a while where I actually felt anxious going into it. I was meant to be going along with the lovely Clare who works at Yotopia, but after a series of events fate dictated I would go alone. I can tell you, there is nothing like a handstand class to get to know someone. Either you have to trust them to stop you collapsing onto the floor, or you have them by the hips with their butt quite close to your face. It certainly promotes togetherness. Despite the initial fear, and the worry after some pretty intense warm up exercises, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m already thinking about booking in to next week’s class!

I was ill just after the last article came out, so had a sick day and eased myself back in with a lovely yin class. I also had another ‘hot class hypo’ – something that’s becoming more regular than I’d like. I really enjoy the hot classes, the extra sweat makes it feel so much more satisfying, but am thinking maybe I should do them less frequently. It’s obviously an extra strain but, as ever, it’s a case of being sensible and listening to my body and taking a break if needed.

I finished off the week with a lovely class full of fellow Zen Monkey writers and people who work at Yoga London. It was so great to put faces to names, and it had such a nice energy to it. Well, all except my thighs, they were feeling mighty weak. Cue Child’s Pose.

Over To You?

I can’t lie, by the end of the third week I knew I wanted to carry on, but I was ready for more flexibility in the schedule. I’ve adored doing the challenge, but might suggest to anyone contemplating it that they stick with 20 days. Not to say anything against the full month if you want to, but I think I knew by day 20 that I liked it enough to continue.

If you decide you want to give a challenge a go there are a few things I would suggest:

  • Stay hydrated. Yoga is a work out and gets you sweating, so you need to make sure you’re replenishing any lost water. My morning-after-the-pub classes really brought that home.
  • Make sure your washing machine is in full working order, especially if you’re doing any hot classes. See above, re: sweatiness.
  • It sounds basic, but I was surprised to discover that between figuring out the physical form of a pose and working on balance I quickly forgot about breathing. It really is the foundation. When my breathing is steady I have a much better class.
  • Try your best to not compare yourself to anyone else. I thought it was going to be a big problem for me, but I quickly realised comparing my practice to others it’s pointless. The only good time to look around, I’ve found, is when I have no idea what I’m doing.
  • Try different classes, or the same class with a different teacher. I feel like the teacher makes quite a big difference — if you’re not gelling with someone try someone else. Equally, trying different teachers means you might have something explained in a slightly different way that makes a simple arm position or similar make much more sense.

It’s been a mighty interesting month. I came in knowing next to nothing about yoga, so expectations were speculative at best. I definitely feel physically stronger, especially in my back and shoulders (which I still struggle to relax). The mental side of things is subtler, I think. It’s certainly more difficult to measure. A few of life’s stresses seem to be toned down somewhat, though. I think it’s something that will take much more time to really get the real benefit. I’m quite the over-thinker in life, so I’m hoping if I keep at it yoga will help me tune out what I call ‘my crazy’.

A Word Of Thanks

At the risk of sounding a bit cheesy, I’d like end with a thank you or two…

Firstly, I want to thank the Zen Monkey team: Mr. Editor-in-Chief, Joshua, for convincing me to do this, and Rachel for her kind words about the articles (it had been a while since I’d written, so I was a bit nervous about it!).

A big shout-out to Jeremy and everyone at Yotopia. it’s been the most welcoming experience, thank you so much for letting me use your lovely facilities and being so encouraging throughout. I’ve enjoyed my time there so much! Big thanks to the guys at Ohmme for some of the comfiest yoga clothing – I never thought I’d enjoy a pair of leggings quite so much!

Thank you to every one of the teachers who helped me throughout this month; special mention to Caroline for taking the extra interest in me. To all the kind yogis I’ve spoken to in the halls – thank you for your words and encouragement, and I look forward to seeing you again soon!

Finally, a big thanks to all of you! Thank you for taking the time to read about my crazy little challenge. I’ve had a ball doing and writing about it, and I hope I’ve managed to inspire at least one or two of you to start, keep going, or try something new – whatever it may be.

Right, I’m off to buy myself a new mat!

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