Last August I wrote that I'd taken up yoga and was hoping to become a yoga goddess. This was fairly short lived, and after about a week or so I fell out of the routine I'd started. I tried again in October, but again it didn't really stick. I think this was partially due to the fact that I spent a lot of time staying at my boyfriend's house but had none of my stuff there, and not enough space to really be able to stick to a routine.
When we moved in together in January one of the first things I wanted to do was start doing yoga again. I now had the space, and seeing as I wasn't constantly running between two places I definitely had the time. Having enjoyed Yoga With Adriene's Complete Beginner's video when I first dipped my toe into the joy that is yoga practice I headed over to her YouTube channel only to discover that she had recently posted a series of videos called 30 Days of Yoga.
Adriene's 30 Days of Yoga were perfect for me because it felt like a challenge, something I could tick off every day and feel good about. I've also read that it only takes 30 days for something to become a habit, and having successfully turned vegan after trying it for 30 days, I liked the idea that completing these 30 videos would mean that doing yoga every day was a habit for me. I also liked that it was something different every day so I wouldn't get bored. It may not be ideal for everyone, but it certainly worked for me.
I thoroughly enjoyed myself throughout those thirty days. It wasn't long before I started to continue my practice after the video was over, I looked up poses I wanted to try and often found myself practising for an hour or more. It became second nature to plan my day around when I could fit in some yoga. I even carried on doing the videos whilst James and I were in Prague. But the best part was that once I finished the thirty days, I felt confident enough to 'rock up to the mat' (as Adriene would say) and just do whatever I felt like doing without a video to guide me.
I was also really surprised by how quickly I improved. Don't get me wrong, some areas of my body are definitely tighter than others and are probably going to take months or even years to progress to where I'd like to be. But my overall strength has improved rapidly and some areas of my body are more willing to open up than other parts, it seems. I thought I'd show two of the improvements I'm most proud of.
Even in the second shot, you can see I still need to work on opening my hips more as well as my chest. But I'm still so proud of the progress between the first and second photo, and the day before the first photo was taken I couldn't even get my foot into the crook of my elbow. But I really enjoy working on this pose, and although it could be a long time until my hips fully open I still love seeing the tiny improvements every few days.
I was so happy with myself the first time I got into crow pose and actually held it (for all of about 3 seconds). Imagine my happiness when, about a week and a half later, I realised I was getting so much better at it. When I look at these photos I feel so strong and empowered. That's exactly why I love yoga.
Something I've really struggled with is my upper back/shoulders. They're very tight. I really want to start doing back bends, but at the moment I just don't have the strength or flexibility in my upper back and arms. However I'm still really proud of the progress I've made in this area, the photo above was the first time I've been able to actually get my hands on the floor in this pose, until then my weight was all on my head which isn't good. It's just something I'll have to keep working on.
I've recommended Adriene's videos to a lot of people since I started, I know a lot of people like the idea of getting into yoga but it's difficult to know where to begin and Adriene's videos are easy enough that a complete beginner can do them but she also creates opportunities for more experienced people to get more from them too.
I've actually not been able to do any yoga for just over a week now as I fell ill with a nasty virus which lead to a chest infection but now that I'm starting to feel human again I plan on starting the 30 days of yoga again to get myself back into the swing of things. I'm sure I won't be able to help myself from sharing my progress as I go, and if you want to see more regular updates, I often put yoga related photos up on my instagram, which is linked at the top.