I wrapped up my 30 Day Challenge last week, and although I’ve been planning on a blog post to share my experience, I needed a little distance from the situation first and allow it to marinate. So again, in an effort of satya, or truth, I’ll attempt to report everything with brutal honesty. I’ll break down the different aspects of the challenge as I did in the first post and then paint a picture as to how each aspect went.
1. Start a morning routine. This consisted of: “getting up at 5:30 am (gasp), writing 3 pages, doing my morning yoga practice, meditating for 20 minutes, and drinking some yummy and caffeinated tea.” I woke up between 5am and 6am all but 2 of the days of the challenge. It wasn’t as difficult as I had anticipated, but now that I’m not technically in the “challenge” anymore, it’s feeling more like a chore. However, early rising is something I would very much like to continue, but I need a new way to find myself accountable. There’s something very sacred about those dark, early, quiet hours. You can really feel the day’s potential while getting to know your true self better. I need to remember that when I want to hit “snooze.”
Morning yoga practice was definitely an experience of growth for me. The practices varied a lot in intensity and duration, but were helpful either way. I highly recommend at least a few stretches, especially anything that gets the spine moving and gentle backbends, to awaken and refresh for the day. Morning practice helped me set my ego aside, since I generally couldn’t balance as well or stretch as deeply as usual. It was both humbling and refreshing to work through the challenges that the variances of day-to-day life bring. This, I will definitely continue. Meditation was a challenge for me… I didn’t stick to the 20 minute rule as mentioned here, which ended up being very helpful, but I know there is so much depth I’ve yet to encounter via meditation. Instead of feeling frustrated, I choose to feel excited to chart new territory. On top of meditation, this challenge helped me feel more mindful in general. Focusing on the present moment during all activities helps clear the cobwebs of vritti, or whirling thoughts, and brings clarity, focus, and joy into everyday activity.
As far as the tea goes, I found myself switching to coffee. I used it to help fatigue, but do feel I relied on it too heavily during the challenge. I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with coffee, but I wanted the clarity of total sobriety in this challenge and do I feel I cheated a bit with the coffee buzz. Toward the end of the challenge, I had to give it up as it was inducing anxiety, so I ended up feeling headachey and fatigued the last few days as I was detoxing from it. Something that came unexpectedly with this challenge was an increased sensitivity. I’m already a HSP and cleansing my body increased it quite a bit. I felt extra sensitive to food and caffeine and had one particularly bad panic attack after 2 cups of coffee. Now I’m just drinking caffeine sparingly and paying close attention to how the things I ingest effect my system.
2. Give up alcohol. This was way easier than expected. As my mind started feeling sharper, my desire to drink practically vanished. I had an extremely busy 30 days and I didn’t want to be slowed down. After this challenge, and on my birthday, I had a couple mimosas while out to brunch with friends and they hit me super hard. My increased sensitivity mixed with a lowered tolerance for alcohol didn’t mix well. I felt tipsy really fast and felt a bit disappointed that I didn’t feel as engaged as I could have been. My desire from now on is to stay sober except for in select celebrations or situations. It’s all about moderation.
3. Study the Yoga Sutras. This became one of my favorite parts of each day. The wisdom within Patanjali’s work is vast and I’ve enjoyed taking my time, drinking in each one. They provide such an interesting and monumentally life-changing way of living. I’m sure I’ll be studying, contemplating, and integrating this into my life for years to come. The March Meet-up was very cool and I look forward to future meetings discussing yoga philosophy with fellow local yoga-enthusiasts.
4. Take on 5 Day Challenges. This was a part of the challenge I greatly neglected. I did 5 days with no tv and 5 days of cleaning/organizing (which I didn’t finish), but other than that, this aspect fell by the wayside. However, I don’t feel guilty about it, since I was very busy during this time putting most of my energy into a major passion, my business! I launched my online clothing shop VeganYogiUnicorn.com on March 20th and have really put my heart and soul into it. It combines all my passions and talents (design, veganism, yoga, marketing, and community-building) and has been such a joy to oversee and give birth to. Check it out… it’s an accumulation of a ton of passion and many many hours that I think we’re made more focused and creative by adhering to (most of) the tenants of this challenge.
5. Truthfully report how it all goes. I’ve tried my best to do this, although it took me quite a while to gather the courage and energy to write this last post. I’ve been dealing with cycles of high energy/depression for a very long time. It’s called cyclothymia, and although I’ve evened out quite a bit since I’ve committed to yoga and through an amazing therapy called neurofeedback, it’s still something I deal with and have to be aware of. I went through a depressive cycle for the last 2 weeks. These used to come with deep despair, but now it’s more of a lack of energy/enthusiasm. I’m able to function (sometimes at bare-minimum) but it takes a lot of effort to not hide under the covers for days at a time. I’m feeling evened out right now, but I also go through phases where I feel invincibley positive with major rushes of energy. It used to leave me feeling like two different people, but now I see myself for who I truly am and know these are just aspects of this mind and body I’m blessed with right now. My true self is purusha., infinite and unaffected by the ups and downs of material life. Cycling moods/energy levels is part of my karma and I’m willing to work through it. I debated whether or not to discuss this publicly on the blog. What will my students and peers think? However, like all people, yoga teachers have their struggles and we all do our best to get through them while improving our situations. Besides, even when I’m “depressed” it is an honor and a pleasure to teach, and a big highlight in my day. At 30, I’m miles from where I was at 20, or 25 and hope to help others with similar plights make progress in their journeys.
I’ll leave you with a quote from Inside the Yoga Sutras, by Reverend Jaganath Carrera that’s been a huge inspiration during this time:
Change, even if it is beneficial, can be stressful. Yogis need to be prepared to let go of any conceptions of who they are and what life is about. They need to be primed for the transformation that results from the yogic life. They are like snakes constantly shedding their skins, being reborn as new and better beings.