What I learned on the 26th day of my yoga challenge…

I set out this month eager to become the most physically active I have ever been in my life. While I have gone through stints of running a few times a week or doing yoga daily for a couple weeks straight, I have never been someone who exercises every day. Then, my work started this challenge where we had to log our exercise for 2013 and I found myself exercising almost daily, including the two mile walk we take with our dogs.

Suddenly, I felt ready to tackle daily exercise and yoga seemed like the best option. I imagined myself ready to embrace summer vacation with an exercise routine in the books, no longer waiting for summer to get fit but already fit when summer started. Not only that, but I imagined the relaxing high of post-yoga meditation bliss as the trials of teaching faded from my brain each evening. While these expectations were definitely met, I also discovered something I never expected.

Daily yoga is too much for me, even when I listen to my body with seemingly gentle days of slow movement and meditation mixed in. By days 24 and 25, my body had gradually become a mess. I had a low-level migraine, my neck ached, the top of my right thigh muscle felt like it was going to abandon me. Disappointed, I shared the wall I hit with an instructor whose class I love and her advice helped to shift my perspective. She reminded me that yoga is not a competition or about ego. It’s alright to listen to your body instead of listening to your goals. She also made me realize that sometimes even meditation is an exertion of energy that may be too much.

So, last night, I took the night off. Unlike the Friday before where I shunned social interaction to practice yoga and keep with my routine, I came home, did nothing, then went to dinner with friends. Oh. How. Glorious. Today I woke up ready to go to one of my favorite yin classes. My body no longer feels like it’s falling apart. I’m excited to practice again. The 26th day of yoga taught me that yoga isn’t about every day, it’s about listening to your body and accepting the days where practice means doing something else.

I'm grateful for the reminder that the purpose of life is to live, not to keep up with our arbitrary must-do list in our brain. Everyday Guru put the same idea nicely in his post today too.

I’m grateful for the reminder that the purpose of life is to live, not to keep up with our arbitrary must-do lists. Everyday Gurus put the same idea nicely in his post today too.

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15 thoughts on “What I learned on the 26th day of my yoga challenge…

  1. kingmidget says:

    Dinner with friends can be yoga.

  2. jeffo says:

    Sometimes, you just need a break!

  3. Kozo Hattori says:

    Great post, Olivia. Another blogger, Tomas at Heartflow2013, published a post on the word “asana.” The etymology of the word is not based in a physical pose, but rather a mental state. Sounds like you practiced asanas the day you took a rest. {{{hugs]}} Kozo

    • oliviaobryon says:

      Fascinating! One of my yoga instructor friends explained something similar to me, that yoga is just as much (if not more) mental than it is physical. I think I’m just beginning to develop an appreciation for the non-physical side. Looking forward to growing in this awareness, thank you for sharing!

  4. loloslunch says:

    I think listening to our bodies is one thing yoga and meditation aim to teach those that stick with either practice. Sounds like you may be more in tune with your body now than ever and that must be a great reward.

  5. Aw! You’re making me wish I liked yoga. I’m happy for you.

    • oliviaobryon says:

      Maybe you need to try a different style? I didn’t fall in love with it until I started taking classes at devoted studios instead of gyms. Just a thought πŸ˜‰ (But, I also respect it’s not for everyone!)

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