21 Feb Finding Inspiration in a Student’s 30-Day Challenge
Inspiration can make a world of difference in how we view our daily lives. When we’re inspired, everything seems to flow a bit easier. We find ourselves getting the green light at every intersection, a friend randomly picks up the tab for lunch, and we generally feel like the “universe has our back”. And when we’re uninspired, it feels the total opposite. The string of “why me, why now?” questions start to run rampant and we actually begin to expect that everything is against us. So, where can you look to find inspiration when you’re just not feeling like life is supporting you?
As a yoga teacher, I have many students who inspire me at different times and for different reasons. Last month, while I was searching for some inspiration to continue to infuse into my classes, a student of mine mentioned that she was doing her own 30-Day Challenge. It’s common to see these challenges at various yoga studios a few times during the year as well as watch individuals take them on. So it wasn’t that this was something totally new, but the way in which this person lit up as she talked about her challenge, had an immediate effect on my mood; She was inspired.
Cat (Catherine Monk-Saigal) has come to my classes on a regular basis for just about a year. She has an infectious smile and has truly committed herself to her yoga practice. After she told me about her personal 30-Day Yoga Challenge (doing 30 classes within 30 days), I asked if I could sit down with her and get her thoughts on her journey. By watching her show up for class and hearing about what was next on her schedule, I became inspired by her dedication. Here’s what she had to share with me as we sat down to talk about her month long journey.
Me: How did you decide that a 30-Day Yoga Challenge was something that you wanted to tackle?
Cat: I wanted to challenge myself. I wanted to push my dedication to my yoga practice as well as my practice to my own routine of self-care.
Me: You have practiced yoga consistently for about a year. What makes yoga different than other types of fitness you have participated in?
Cat: In the past, I worked with a personal trainer and had developed physical strength and set personal goals, but found that I was lacking a passion and enjoyment for exercise. I accomplished a 5K race, and having never been much of a runner, this was a huge accomplishment for me. In the midst of this physical journey I was faced with a health challenge that significantly altered the view of my body and health. However, when I tried yoga, it was the missing piece to the puzzle. I started with a couple of yin classes and then began exploring other types of classes. I liked that yoga challenged my physical and mental strength – be it hatha or power – and invited me to dig deeper and discover what I was capable of.
Me: How did you manage to get in 30 classes in 30 days?
Cat: I started to map out my classes and then would fit the rest of my daily activities around that schedule. In the past, I would fit yoga into my life where I could and I wasn’t as dedicated to making it happen as I was for this challenge. During my 30-Day Challenge, I also developed a home practice. I found a couple of online yoga classes and would do those or do 20-30 minutes of poses that I put together on my own.
Me: Who was there to keep you accountable to your goal of 30 classes in 30 days? How did you stay inspired to stick with it?
Cat: Being determined to complete this challenge, I gave myself permission to listen to my body and adapt my practice for that day. When I didn’t feel I could fit in a studio class, I did one at home. If I were sore from the previous day, I would do gentler styles of yoga. Yin was the one class that kept me sane and feeling rejuvenated. I don’t think I could have completed the challenge without a Yin practice in the studio and at home.
Each class, I would look for a personal strength – something that I knew I was doing well and then allowed that to be my inspiration. I also had encouragement from family and friends. My mom was my biggest cheerleader. She was constantly making me feel proud of how I was pushing my body and mind and kept reminding me that I have always been a person who sets goals, and then accomplishes them.
Me: Looking back at the month as a whole, were there certain times where you were more motivated than others?
Cat: There were definitely times where it was harder than others to stick to this commitment. It was at the start of Week 3 where I was physically tired and wanted to quit, but knew taking a break would be the end of me staying on track. As I stuck it out, I got to the end of Week 3 with a resurgence of energy and feeling even more motivated. Yoga also was having an effect on things not related to the physical practice – I was beginning to open up and was allowing myself to be vulnerable – in that, I was able to open myself to the experience of my challenge and accept it.
Me: What does the completion of this challenge mean to you?
Cat: This challenge (and my yoga practice in general) has helped me manage stress. By being good to my body, it has lead to healthier eating choices, changes to my lifestyle, and better physical and mental choices.
As it pertains to my yoga practice, I feel strong. I have a new found love in a home practice. I used a video twice adding poses here and there, but the third time, I made my own Flow/Yin sequence and it was amazing. I like being able to be creative and try different flows/poses and I am seriously considering taking yoga teacher training. I feel confident in my practice and how far I have come. I know there is a long road ahead, but I know that if I stay dedicated and can reach my goals within this discipline, there is no telling what I can do!
Me: What’s next?
Cat: My next goal is to do more Power classes to challenge my self, and work on crow pose (bakasana). A few months ago I was able to hold crow pose for a few seconds but I hurt my wrist while doing it so I decided not to try it again until I felt I was strong enough. Two weeks ago I tried again and I held it – only for a few seconds – but I felt stronger. It felt amazing!
Cat, thank you for taking the time to share your reflections of your 30-Day Challenge with me. I appreciate your dedication to your yoga practice, and have been blown away by your commitment to bettering yourself and your practice. Thank you for sharing your passion for this challenge and for being an inspiration to me, when I was in need.
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