40 Days Later.
And so the challenges have come to an end. The 40 days of yoga are now over and I’ve also completed the 21 days meditation challenge.
So how did it go?
In the beginning, there were several stops and starts. Especially on the days when deadlines were lurking or some other pressing need (my children wanted me to play with them) came up. There was a point and time when I thought this was just not going to work out.
I had to take a step back, regroup and remember the real reason why I was pursuing this challenge. It was so I could feel better about myself: both mentally and physically. It was so I could become reacquainted with both my mind and body that I’ve been neglecting in the pursuit of other things.
I became flexible with myself, giving myself permission to sometimes do less and other days do a little more. For me the 40 days changed from an hour yoga class to simply getting on the mat. Every day. Even for just a few moments.
In my journey, I used what was present in my life for inspiration.
Goal setting seemed to be an integral part of my life during the first part of the 40 days. In my other life, as a college professor: I was instructing students on how to write smarter goals for their placement (they are beginning placements in January and I instructed the importance of having a focus and specific goals during this opportunity) . The irony was not lost on me. Here I was teaching my students how to write specific goals while I was making lofty ones for myself.
On day 5 of the challenge, I was really struggling. I had missed day 3 and 4 and felt that I had perhaps overcommitted myself. However, luckily this was the day of my yoga course and today’s subject was creating a vision board. It was almost as if everything out there, was supporting my plans to achieve my goal. I spent the day cutting and pasting photographs and words on where I saw myself in 10 years time. Everything was finally connecting, and that night I got back onto the mat.
One of my favorite inspirations was this article on the Lulelemon blog. Here they talk about the importance of simplifying your goals and making them into manageable steps.
I loved the fact that they stated about writing goals in the present tense and making your goals affirmative and measurable. In the first week, when I was really struggling, I took out the sheets and wrote my vision and then my own long term goals ( 10 years, 5 years and 1 year). This simple, reflective step really made me see the purpose behind the challenges. And if in fact, doing the challenges were right for me at the time. It also helped me honour myself and the strength that I already had in me.
Was my 40 day challenge a success? Absolutely. However, not in the way that perhaps we are used to measuring success. In the beginning, my goals faltered. I became overwhelmed and unsure of the reason why I was completing these challenges. When I took the time to reflect and recognize the support surrounding me, I remembered why I was making these commitments and why they were right for me today.
So what now?
Happily, the practice has become a part of my every day experience. My mats are my reminder of my commitment. They are no longer hidden in the closet, instead they are in my direct vision (one mat in my office and two in the playroom).
Whenever I have a moment, I take the mats out. Sometimes I engage in a full session, but more typically I take it out for a sun salutation or to try out some new postures.
Sometimes it’s not me that prompts the session, but my children. Just the other day my daughter piped out, “Mom we haven’t done yoga today!” and then she went and rolled out the mat. My son happily joined in and they both instructed me on how to do a sun salutation. Reaching their small powerful arms up to the sky and taking deep breathes. Right then and there I knew I was on the right path. I was making yoga not only a part of my life but my childrens’ as well.