It’s the end of January, which means it’s the end of my annual yoga retreat. Like most people I can’t afford to take this dreary month off work to practice upward facing dog in a hot and sunny location, so I’ve settled again for the more practical option. For the third year in a row I’ve taken part in Yoga with Adriene’s 30 day yoga journey. This year the programme is called Dedicate.
The idea is simple. Every day Adriene releases a new yoga video on her Youtube channel. All participants need to do is show up and practice. The programme is free (although it can be downloaded for a small donation) and is suitable for beginners and advanced yogis alike.
I’ve mused before about the benefits of a regular yoga practice, especially during a season that is almost synonymous with sluggishness and gloominess. Showing up on my mat every day gives me some gentle exercise, meditation and breathing exercises to overcome stress, and a real sense of community. On average, over 30,000 people have already watched the day’s new video by the time I get to my mat. A truly mindblowing experience, all in the comfort of my own home.
I tend to get evangelical about things I love. I’m afraid I’ve been boring my colleagues and friends with my ravings about downward dogs and skull shining breath all month. The responses I get are predictable: cool, but I can’t commit to this. I’m not flexible. I don’t have time. Yoga is too spiritual for me.
Well, I’m not particularly flexible (although I have improved since I’ve started practicing) and too much chatter about chakras sends me running for the hills. One thing I’ve always liked about Yoga with Adriene is the channel’s down to earth vibe. If you want to find out more about meditation and affirmations, Adriene won’t stop you. But if you’re just looking for some gentle stretches she’s got you covered too.
And time is relative. Most of the practices only take about twenty minutes. Skip the Netflix, or the social media, and suddenly you do have time. Besides, it’s time worth spending. I don’t like terms like “challenge” or “workout” – Adriene herself avoids them too – because I feel yoga should be something you do because you want to. Because it makes you feel good. Not because it’s just another chore on your to do list. Or because you want to get those sculpted arms.
I can’t say yoga has turned me into a zen person who never experiences stress or other negative emotions. I think that’s hardly the point. But it has made me happier and more resilient. I now have a more positive relationship with my body, carve out time every day to do something positive and healthy, and always feel better after a practice, no matter how gruelling my day has been.
I rarely set goals for the year ahead. Life is unpredictable and, if anything, I want to put less pressure on myself than I used to. But I do intend to keep going and carve out time to stretch and recharge. Today’s practice is called Liberate, and I can’t wait!
Image Pixabay via Pexels. I got very annoyed when I went looking for a suitable image and all I could find were pictures of super fit girls in pretzelly positions looking chilled out and non-sweaty. Where’s the diversity? This is not what yoga is like for me and I think it’s an image that puts a lot of people off. But more on that later. Here’s a nice image of a rosy landscape instead.