For years yoga has been my go-to exercise, but over the course of 2016, it became more of a random than regular habit. I missed it, but couldn’t motivate myself to hit the mat.
So on January 2nd this year, along with Paul, I set out to do ’30 days of yoga’ in a bid to get back on track. The criteria was a minimum of 15 minutes of yoga a day for thirty days straight. Here’s what I (we) learned.
All or nothing doesn’t work for me
30 days of yoga took 65 days… A week in, the thirty days straight rule was broken. Hmmm, what now? Keep going, even with breaks and see how long it takes to reach the magic thirty. My challenge, my rules. This was about re-establishing a habit, not about proving anything. Life happens, skipping the odd day or even a week in the middle doesn’t mean failure.
Getting to the mat is the hardest part…
…but staying there can also be tough. Most days once our ‘class’ started, I felt great, but there were several days when I wanted to run away screaming towards the couch. Fifteen minutes dragged, but I always felt better by the end.
The mental benefits were huge
I’ve written before about the business and busyness of working parenthood and the general madness that it can be. It can take its toll on the head. But even fifteen minutes a day of yoga left us both sleeping better, feeling calmer, less anxious with more considered reactions and all around more resilient.
The physical benefits are up there too
It feels fabulous to stretch out after a long day, especially with the promise of savasana (basically just lying there) at the end. There’s also a certain smugness as your strength improves over the few weeks – yoga push-up, I’m looking at you.
It was a marker between the two parts of our day and gave us an energy boost to do all the ‘stuff’ we needed to do to prep for the next day.
The verdict – yoga rocks
I originally wrote this post months ago, but never got around to posting it. The usual excuses… Having read back over it, I’m dying to unroll my mat, hit the floor and practice. You just feel great after a good yoga session. The ’30 days’ definitely worked their magic and motivation to practice is still high, albeit it hindered by some practical realities.
When I fell pregnant earlier this year, morning (all-day) sickness hit and put a huge dent in how often I got to the mat, but once I hit my second trimester and felt human again, I was back at it. And now, (still pregnant) I can’t practice at all at the moment as I’m on bed-rest/restricted activity. But, I can dream about stretching out my limbs and the mental clarity yoga brings. As soon as I have the all-clear in a few months when baby is here, I’ll be back on the mat – toddler and newborn juggling allowing!
If you think that you could do with a little boost – mental or physical or both, I can’t recommend yoga highly enough. Whether you go to a class, do some home practice or both, it all makes a difference. The key is consistency though – something that’s not always easy but the benefits are there to be had. For me, it has been life-altering – a big statement but true.
My frequency of practice dwindled last year and I needed the 30-day challenge to re-find the value of yoga in my life. Now it’s firmly back in place as my go-to exercise of choice, when not challenged by bed-rest orders, that is…
Yoga may or may not be your thing, but if you’re feeling a bit crappy, it’s worth giving a class or maybe even a ’30-day’ challenge a shot.
A few resources
We used the Yoga Studio app for our 30-day challenge. I love it. There are a range of classes to suit different abilities and moods. I bought it a number of years ago for about €2.99, which gives unlimited access to its content. Just recently however, they’ve changed the pricing structure so that it’s either $1.99 a month, $4.99 for 3 months or $19.99 annually. There is a free 14-day trial before payment kicks in though. For my money, it’s a worthwhile investment even with the new pricing model.
Yoga classes can be expensive. In Dublin, you’re generally looking at between €15-18 per drop-in class, which is pretty pricey, depending on how often you practice. Although, there are class-pass deals to be had.
I love a good class, but I’m choosy about my teacher. Dublin based teachers that I’ve loved are Nabin Thapa at Anahata and Kim Jacob, who’s mainly Greystones based now, but she does teach at Little Bird in Dublin 8 once a month. Kitty Maguire who’s also excellent teaches at Little Bird too. More recently, I’ve discovered the Yoga Lounge in Raheny. I’ve taken the Saturday morning Hot Vinyasa Flow class and felt amazing after it.
For pre-natal yoga, Rachel Gaffey and the team at mywellbeing.ie in Dublin 2 are excellent. I went to classes there twice a week when pregnant with Evie and followed their 20-minute pregnancy Yogalates video when I could still practice during this pregnancy.
There are loads of different class styles about but Vinyasa Flow is definitely my favourite. It’s challenging, strength-building, gives the body an amazing stretch leaving you glistening (sweaty!) and feeling like a bit of a champion with a clear mind.
A good mat will make all of the difference to your practice and if (like me, yuck!) you get a little sweaty and find you lose grip on your mat, I highly recommend getting a grip mat too. I have this pack and love it.
Yoga for kids
I’m dying to find a Dublin toddler yoga class for our little miss. One of her teachers in crèche has taught her some moves which look suspiciously like ‘downward dog’ and ‘cobra’. She regularly breaks out her moves in random places, so I think she’d love a class. For now, we’re following Cosmic Kids Yoga on YouTube and have found some success with the poses. The ‘banana’ pose anyone?! If you have any suggestions for more kids yoga resources I’d really appreciate them – just drop a comment below!