“I wish winter would stay forever and ever,” said no one ever, so what do you do to beat the winter blues? Well, you could hibernate, drink lots of hot chocolate, go somewhere tropical or look for something uplifting and inspiring; I chose the latter. After seeing all the pictures puppies and purritos (please google purritos) my heart could handle, I turned to TED Talks.
First and foremost, I. Love. TED Talks. They have their own YouTube channel with tons of talks about a variety of topics but the one that really got me thinking was “Try Something New for 30 Days” by Matt Cutts (here’s the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnfBXjWm7hc). Spoiler alert: he basically just suggests that you add or subtract something new to your day consistently for 30 days. Of course there are a million different things you can choose (I found this site helpful http://thoughtbrick.com/lifestyle/hundred-30-day-challenge-ideas/) but I had a yoga gift certificate that was about to expire, so I figured I would do yoga every day for 30 days. Easy peasy, right?
What you don’t know about me, well a lot of things but for the sake of relevance, is that I can’t easily touch my toes. Because of that, I wanted to be cautious and ease myself into my yoga journey with beginner classes. No one wants to injure themselves on day 1 of a 30 day challenge. Another thing that I had working in my favor is that I had been doing a little bit of yoga, so I was coming into classes with basic knowledge of the jargon, positions, etc… So what did my first day look like? A level 1 and 2 class.
In my defense, it was the only class that fit my schedule that day! We did downward facing dogs, into a 3 legged dog (one leg extended in the air behind you), into a plank with your knee to your nose (let’s be honest my knee was NOT to my nose), and back into 3 legged dog. Savasana (corpse pose…you literally lay on your back with your palms up and your eyes closed), couldn’t come soon enough. Needless to say, I was sore the next day and I learned a valuable lesson, don’t run before you can walk.
Since then, I’ve been listening to my body and giving it what it needs and taking ego out of the equation. Yoga is NOT about competition and judgement. It’s about honoring and accepting where you are and creating a union of your body, mind, and spirit. To be clear, acceptance is not complacency or giving up; you gotta keep chugging along. So this is what has happened over the last 10 days of straight yoga:
- I can now comfortably pop into a downward facing dog and hold it for a good bit without shaking uncontrollably
- I’ve since done another level 1 and 2 class and rocked it out.
- I feel more in tune with my body than I ever had and notice subtle differences that I’ve never noticed before
- I feel more comfortable in my skin that I ever have before
- Stress is different for me now…it’s kind of this funny thing that I can choose to have in my life or not
- My good friend and yoga buddy, Heather, created Foga (fake yoga) for those days when you need to rest up a bit.
- I’ve discovered that yoga with any type of “flow” is hard to do when you’re hungover. However, restorative yoga is just what the doctor ordered (supta baddha konasana with a bolster/pillows is my jam).
I’ve got 20 more days to go to complete my 30 days. At this point it doesn’t even feel like a challenge anymore; it feels more like a daily reward. I am filled with gratitude that this is the activity I chose to incorporate into my life and I would encourage anyone reading to try something new for 30 days. Pick something challenging yet attainable (and then tell me what you picked in the comments section)! Be kind to yourself and be kind to others. Cheers!
Paulina Mendez is a UNC Asheville alumna and has called Asheville her home since 2005. She works as a beauty consultant and serves on the boards of various women’s and Latino organizations in the community. If she’s not at yoga or in a meeting, you will find her enjoying a pint (or 2) with her amazing friends and husband.