5 Lessons From My Failed Yoga Challenge

5 Lessons From My Failed Yoga Challenge

New Year, New Me

At the end of last year a very inspiring article encouraged me to set myself a challenge: an hour of yoga a day for a year. On the 31st December I began my journey. There were a couple of reasons behind wanting to do it:

I want to deepen my yoga practice

On every possible level. I was curious to see how an hour’s dedication a day would manifest itself. On average, I teach twice a week, I go to classes two to four times a week and practice on my own sporadically. It can be anywhere between the odd ten minutes first thing in the morning, or an hour spent practicing. Sometimes half the hour was dedicated to practice and the other half (cringe) spent scrolling through my phone while lying in half pigeon.

I want to gain discipline

Image Credit: Timothy Krause on Flickr.
Image Credit: Timothy Krause on Flickr.

I have always struggled to find this balance. Working freelance doesn’t help since that allows me to keep it unchecked: I don’t have to get up at the same time every day. If I don’t do my dishes no one will notice. If I don’t do my practice…

I tend to go at something full heart until I get a bit bored or discouraged and move on to the next thing. It’s been a cycle I’ve been trying to escape for a while. I’ve been practicing yoga for five years now, but within that time I’ve had big breaks of not doing it. This challenge was my chance to test myself and break that habit.

My ‘Year’ Of Yoga

Day 1: Full of excitement and motivation, here’s what I posted for my Facebook friends:

**takes deep breath** 
Today I have set myself a challenge. . 1 hour of yoga a day for 365 days.
I write it on here:
a) to make myself accountable (chances are if there is no public proof I would give up)
b) to invite you to join me on my journey. I will post a pic a day and let you know how I am getting on
So fasten your seatbelts (or just click “unfollow”)

Here we go! Ohm Shanti Namaste!

Day 2: I spent the first ten minutes trying to line up the perfect selfie. So, the practice was really only 50 minutes.

Day2/365

365 days of yoga (and so far I’ve learned I don’t have a time delay camera and have spent 10 mins figuring out a yogi selfie… instead of doing yoga… )

Day 3Just for fun I did day 3 in the nude. Have you ever tried it? It was extremely liberating – although I did have to move the nearby mirror. There was no photographic proof of this day although a lot of my friends insisted that there should be..

Image Credit: Moyan Brenn on Flickr.
Image Credit: Moyan Brenn on Flickr.

Day 4: I went for a weekend to Amsterdam. At 11pm I realised I hadn’t practiced and got my friend to take a quick shot of me stretching. I continued to practise for ten minutes, and promised myself I’d make up for it another day.

Day 5: The Facebook posts and practices started fading away. I was constantly filled with guilt when it got to bed time and I hadn’t fit my practice in. I started making excuses:

  • I went to class for an hour and a half yesterday, so 30 minutes should be okay today.
  • I taught for an hour today, that counts right?
  • In the past two hours I’ve been practicing in between laundry and cleaning. I’m sure that’s about an hour…

Day 17: I’d resolved to start again at the start of February.

…by February 1st I’d forgotten.

So What Have I Learned?

1. New habits are difficult to form.

Finding a constant time to practice for me was (obviously) very difficult. New habits take a conscious shift in old habits if they are going to remain. I started seeing my new habit as a chore rather than just enjoying my hour I had gifted myself.

“Fall in love with the process, and the results will come.” – Eric Thomas

This realisation has led me to reach out to others for help and look for resources and inspiration to keep me motivated on my goals. One of the people I came across on my research is James Clear who writes about how to build and create new habits. He is a great resource – much of his stuff he shares for free.

2. A solid and consistent self-practice is a journey in itself.

Image Credit: telmo32 on Flickr.
Image Credit: telmo32 on Flickr.

It also takes far longer than I realized to master. Ever heard yourself say, “I thought I’d have this down by now”? There is no finish line, there is no race. Only perseverance.

3. Self-sabotage is real.

My self-practice is sacred and extremely important to me. Whenever I spend time working with my breath, my body and mind I feel better on every level. So why find excuses not to do it?

Self-sabotage is a sneaky fellow. I’ve become very familiar with him over time. He comes in all sorts of disguises: procrastination, apathy, tiredness… He speaks to me with words like “you knew you’d never stick to it.” He’s the part of me checking my phone, Facebook, or thinking about anything other than the task at hand.

Luckily, I’m now able to recognise it for all that it is, as soon as I am aware of it I am in control of it.

4. Every time I step on the mat I am doing something wonderful.

Two minutes, ten minutes, an hour. It all counts. Not just on my mat, either. Any moment in my day I am moving and breathing consciously I can be practising yoga.

5. Enya makes a great yoga playlist.

Recommended by a friend on one of my posts. If I  came away learning nothing else from this challenge I would be grateful for just this.

The Next Yoga Challenge

Here’s my favourite quote from Don Miguel Ruiz’ book The Four Agreements 

Always Do Your Best. Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.

Every day is a new challenge. Today I am setting myself a goal: to do my best today to live in the moment; to nourish, move and stretch my body and mind. To practice. To do the work. This goal is just for today. Tomorrow I will wake up with gratitude in my heart and start all over again.

radmacher
This has been a hard article for me to write, so now I’m turning it over to you. What are your goals? Are you working on a personal challenge? What wisdom can you share on reaching (or not reaching) your goals?

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