Using a yoga challenge to start a daily yoga practice
Practicing yoga postures for at least 100 days in a row. Why would one do that? It could be, like is was for me, the start of a consistent yoga practice with all its benefits.
The type of yoga challenge this blog is about is a challenge to practice a yoga every day for a specific amount of time. For example 30, 60, 100 or maybe even 200 days in a row. The challenge is showing up. Once you are in your yoga class, you will join the class almost automatically. How that looks like, could be different every single day.
How I started my yoga challenge
As a child, my stepfather taught me how to practice savasana as preparation to fall asleep easily. However, I wasn’t aware that this was a yoga posture, or about yoga in general. Finally in 2008, I showed up for my first yoga class in a yoga studio. And although I liked practicing yoga from the start, it was only a few years later that I started to practice daily.
Stress combined with a stay-at-home vacation made me plan to follow a bikram yoga class for 10 days in a row. I reasoned that since people usually practice two classes a day at a yoga retreat, I could attend a yoga class on a daily base at the local yoga studio myself for one and a half week. And because of the small price difference, I bought a unlimited month card at the bikram yoga studio nearby, so I even had the possibility to take some classes in the weeks after my vacation.
Only, what I didn’t expect was that I wouldn’t stop practicing yoga anymore. After those 10 days, I decided keep on practicing on a daily basis for the rest of the month, but then in combination with my day job. Followed by a change in plan at day 14 by deciding to make it a 100 days bikram yoga challenge. Not only did it feel good, in 3 weeks I ‘knew’ that I wanted to go to the yoga teacher training eventually. So I just continued with my practice. I felt less stressed, it became easier to prioritize, my body seem to appreciate it and especially ... I was happier!
To me, this 100-day yoga challenge proved to be a good basis to keep on practicing yoga in the long run. Because of this yoga challenge, I had experienced how I could feel when I invested in a daily yoga class. This kept me motivated to keep on practicing yoga asana five times a week. I now even get yoga asana ‘cravings’ if I practice less. Furthermore, this hatha yoga practice prepared me to also practice other forms of yoga, including meditation and studying yoga philosophy.
Recommendations to prioritize your yoga practice
Before I started my daily yoga practice, I made long work days. There was always something that had to be finished… right now. However, to include a daily yoga class in my schedule, I had to make some changes. Since actually showing up for your yoga class could be a mental challenge by itself, hereby some recommendations that could help.
Trust that you still get things done
Yes, at first it was seemed to be a challenge for me to combine my yoga lessons with my job. However, since the mental benefits are even more tremendous than the already impressive physical benefits, prioritizing my desire to practice yoga proved to solve my scheduling issues. Practicing yoga gave me the clarity to become more efficient and effective during the rest of the day. Furthermore, I automatically started to watch less television, which was also saving time. This positive feedback loop also helps me with new challenges. To trust to prioritize creating clarity.
Investment in your life
Yes, yoga pictures on Instagram can be awesome and inspiring. However, like most yogis I practice for how it helps me to live my life. With direct benefits of a yoga asana practice lasting for at least 24 hours, one receives an immediate good return on investment. And if you practice daily, you add more benefits before the previous ones are diminished yet, making it a growing return on investment.
Create a routine
The less you need to think about when you are going to do something, the more likely you will act on it. Following your yoga lessons at a fixed time takes less willpower than if the time varies; there are less decisions to make. You could also make use of conditions when you have naturally more willpower, like in the morning when your brain is still free from lots of outside stimulus.
However, when I had an office job, I was practicing in the evening (though at the same time each day). For me, it helped me to pack my yoga stuff in the morning, so I could go straight to class after work. Thereby I didn’t give myself a chance to find an excuse while sitting on the couch for “5” minutes.
Schedule you yoga class
To me, putting my yoga classes in my schedule was an essential tool to be able to make it in time for the yoga class. Although I had more than enough time after my official work day to go to my yoga class, I needed even two reminders, to actually leave the office in time. The first one to announce that I was already working late and should wrap up whatever I was doing. The second to announce the ‘now or never’ chance to be able to make it to class. Yes, looking back it seems crazy!
Nevertheless, scheduling could really help. And a lot of yoga schools nowadays use software whereby one could register online (that even could block your digital calendar). The commitment by registering in advance helps to actually go to your favorite yoga class.
Be part of a community
Although I usually preferred to do things by myself, by yoga I've experienced that doing things together can actually really help with difficult moments. Especially during intensive trainings. The experiences of other yogis remind me that my challenges are not that different. And of course their motivation and compassion also helps. Especially during the challenging moments. And a community also provides you an additional group of teachers to speed up your learning process.
By practicing daily at the yoga studio, you will get to know more and more other students, which makes it easier to find such a community. During my 100-day challenge I also found out almost automatically who were also doing a challenge. Some studios even organize group challenges, which even makes it easier to find a community.
Recommendations to take care of yourself during your yoga challenge
If you are going to practice yoga every single day, you probably abruptly ask somethings else from your body. And it therefore also needs a different kind of care. Hereby a few things that helped me to adjust to that change.
Change in food pattern due to daily yoga practice
Because your body is going to behave differently, it could be that your body asks for some changes in your diet. This is even a great side benefit, since the more you practice yoga, the easier it becomes to adequately interpret the signals about what kind of food works for you. If you like to read more about that, check my blog “Food (cravings) and using yoga to listen to your body”.
Hydration and yoga
Because of all the yoga, you will sweat more, you could have muscle aches during the transition and there could be a release of ‘toxins’ that like to be eliminated. And even when it’s just to keep clarity, it is really recommended to hydrate properly by drinking lots of water. And if you sweat a lot, I also recommend to pay attention to your electrolyte balance. Check “The 7 Hydration Tips by YogaHabits” for more information and recommendation regarding hydration.
Optional food supplements
If you feel like you need some food supplements, I recommend taking a 100% natural and organic (super)food option. Personally I do well on E3live Renew me, E3AFA and Better you magnesium oil spray. But optimally, your food pattern itself supports yoga already maximally. Adding smoothies and juices to your diet with lots of vegetables or fruits are for example also very helpful for me. But each body reacts differently (which also changes over time). I strongly advise to do adequate research, both with regard to your body’s needs and the quality of the products you consider. Make yourself informed and please choose for a holistic approach.
Muscle aches & yoga
Do you have muscle aches or does your body becomes more stiff in the first few weeks? The good news is that it becomes better by showing up for your next yoga session. Besides that you work on flexibility in your yoga practice, you also (among others) work on strength, stability and balance. As soon as you get used to practicing yoga daily (usually within 4 to 6 weeks), this becomes better over time. But of course I have some recommendation for you for during the transitional period.
- Drink a large glass of water with 1 to 2 table spoons of apple vinegar. Maybe you like to use a straw so that the vinegar has less contact with your teeth.
- Add more green leafy vegetables to your diet. For example in the form of green smoothies.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Maybe some supplements could help. Check above.
- Practice some yoga to increase the blood circulation.
Take care of your yoga apparel
Weren’t we talking about recommendations to take care of yourself? Yes, and if you take care of your favorite yoga outfits, they will also take care of you. Quality yoga clothing comes in high-tech fabrics. These special fabrics remain beautiful and fresh by cold washing with only a little bit of detergent, no fabric softener and by adding some transparent natural vinegar. You won’t smell the vinegar, once your outfit is dry, and it actually removes odors. Wash your favorite outfit separately from towels and hang it up to dry.
For me, this habit created another helpful habit: to take better care of my stuff in general. As a result, they serve me longer and I feel more gratitude. In other words, an off-the-matt yoga lifestyle Habit©.
Finished your yoga challenge?
And what to do once you finished your yoga challenge? Of course, practice again the next day! After my 100-day challenge, I've kept on practicing yoga asana around 5 times a week. And last year I did a 200 day challenge (see photos of the steamy class at day 200) to help me find more balance between my personal practice, YogaHabits and teaching yoga.
Enjoy your Habits© today with love and light!