Kayla McCabe, 129 YinD
Why the Yoga Challenge is for Everyone
So maybe you’ve been practicing yoga for years, or maybe you haven’t. Maybe you saw that Sticky Rice was doing a Yoga Challenge and immediately dismissed it as something you can’t do. Or maybe you decided it was too simple, and you can practice on your own and be just fine, thank you very much. Well, no matter which group you fall into, I promise you can benefit from this month-long yoga challenge. And because my yoga credentials are less than impressive (sporadic classes in high school and college and 6 months of following online yoga videos at my site), I’m going to use the words of my much more qualified friend*, Adriene, to prove this to you.
“30 days- or however long it takes you.”
Peace Corps Volunteers have busy work schedules and exhausting lives in general. If you start the S.R. challenge (or any daily yoga practice) and find one day you’re just too tired to roll out your mat, that is okay! Listen to your body and take a day off. On the other hand, if you start later and finish in less than 30 days, that’s okay too! This challenge is for you, so complete it in whatever way is right for you.
“Find what feels good”
This is Adriene’s favorite saying. She’ll use it when introducing a new pose or bringing it back to a familiar pose. Yoga is supposed to be challenging yet energizing, and with this phrase Adriene invites us to try something new and reminds us that we can all find something good and positive in a yoga practice. Whether you’re doing plank pose with your knees on the ground or with a hand above your head, every flow can be adjusted by you to meet your individual abilities and needs. If you don’t feel good during and after your practice, change things until you do.
This phrase is very similar to “find what feels good” but I like the phrasing in this one better. Every day you are able to choose whether or not you show up on your mat. You are able to choose what you need that day – low key simpler poses or an extra challenge. The beauty of living alone is that there is no one pushing you to practice yoga and making it feel like a chore or a check on the to-do list. You do yoga because you choose to, and that very fact has kept my enthusiasm and motivation high six months into regular practice.
“Embrace the at home yoga practice”
The difference between loneliness and aloneness is one I think many of us didn’t understand until joining Peace Corps. Sure, we feel homesick and wish for more friends but that doesn’t stop the roosters crowing, children and yaiis banging on the door, power outages, and endless other things that remind us we are not alone. Finding time to practice yoga amidst this chaos can be a challenge but as Adriene reminds us, it is still possible if we embrace the at-home yoga practice. If you need to stop a few minutes in to receive the unexpected visitor or chase the chickens out of the vegetable garden, do that, and return when you are ready. In fact, I think that’s a huge advantage of practicing at home: YouTube (or Instagram) videos can easily be paused and resumed whenever it is convenient for you.
“What we bring to the mat is what we bring to our daily life”
This is important. My mom used to say that if I was crabby in the morning, all I was doing was setting myself up for a bad day, but if I chose to be pleasant in the morning, I would be in a much better mood throughout the day. The same concept applies to yoga, and Adriene is quick to remind each of us of this. If you approach the yoga challenge with the mindset that you are not a yogi, and this challenge is beyond your capabilities, then you will fail as a result, and that feeling of inadequacy and inability will follow into your work. On the flip side, if you feel like this challenge will be too easy for your well-practiced self, you may not feel motivated to push and challenge yourself, and that same attitude will follow you to work. But, if you go in with an open mind, with a willingness to try, to create a challenge (or a project…) if there isn’t one, the feeling of accomplishment and the motivation to push yourself will, you guessed it, follow you to work! Everyone here at Sticky Rice wants to see you succeed, both in yoga and at work, so how will you approach the mat?
*No matter how much I wish it were true, Adriene is, in fact, not an actual friend of mine. She does, however, have a YouTube channel that I visit almost daily. All of these quotes are things she frequently says in her videos.