by Lydia Munn
Oh my goodness! I can’t believe WE made it! To say the challenge was challenging for me, is… an understatement. Between end-of-summer celebrations, my sister’s birthday, and starting law school, my schedule was all over the place. I had to remain flexible and patient with myself while staying committed to my obligations. I don’t mean obligation in the pejorative sense, obligations can be grounding. I was comforted by the fact that no matter what was going on, I had the ability to make time in my schedule to go to yoga. By honoring personal commitments to yoga, self, and study, I was able to more easily choose “the next right action” as Kacee would say. It’s not about doing everything perfectly, it’s about giving it your best effort. And we did! Lexie and I completed 30 classes in 18 days, 15 classes each! Woooohooooo!
But it’s less about the number of classes we were able to attend, and more about what I was able to learn about myself through the yoga practice. And man, was it humbling. I spent a good amount of my class time in child’s pose, or flowing at a pace slower than the rest of the class. But in honoring my body’s fatigue from the external world, I used the practice to focus primarily as a tool to focus on my breathing. I allowed for gentleness in my practice. I decided that I was not in competition with myself, I was in this for the journey.
Here’s the part about balance. Yes, I moved more slowly and took more resting postures. But I also pushed myself to learn how to make my practice work for me today. I explored more variations (even those outside of what was offered in class), utilized the props more effectively (for example, blocks under a rooted hand in a lunging twist), built strength by slowing down my transitions (using bandhas to guide me between poses). This allowed me to maintain alignment and breath, though I was often physically and mentally exhausted when coming to class.
And now the highlights! There were so many amazing things about participating in the challenge. One week, Kayla introduced some very cool backbending variations with blocks against the wall. This is helpful to me as a student who sits at a desk most of the day. If you haven’t taken a class with Jeff Stone, stop whatever you’re doing right now and take one. I’ll wait…
But seriously, Sunday morning Slow Burn with Jeff has transformed my practice and my approach to teaching. His most important cue is breath, and the pranayama and messaging he offers is simply beautiful. Last Sunday was particularly special for me. All (if not, most) of my movements where linked with my breath, and when Jeff says, “surrender your breath to this posture,” it completely shifts my intention. And last but not least, this challenge gave me more opportunities to see all of my yoga friends! These are amazing people that I met during teacher training or in class, and I feel like the challenge really united us all.
So, final thoughts. If there is a yoga challenge, or any wellness challenge whether it is formally organized or even something you see on an instagram post, PARTICIPATE! If you miss a day, FORGIVE YOURSELF. The challenge is simply a means to learn more about yourself when faced with difficult circumstances. Through the challenge, I was able to work on my self-discipline, build camaraderie with other participants, and spend time with myself. So all-in-all, it was an amazing experience. And… WE DID IT!