Well everyone, it has been one week since I COMPLETED my 30-day Bikram yoga challenge: 30 classes in 30 days!
If you follow me on Instagram or read my first post about this yoga challenge, you’ll know I was really nervous about the prospect of practicing hot yoga every single day for a month straight. I’m not always the best at following through on my goals, and it certainly seemed like a lofty one to exercise that frequently without taking any days off. (I’m typically a BIG proponent of ‘days off’ – to the point of prolonged procrastination).
But I’m so so glad I saw this particular challenge through to fruition. I’m not going to lie and say it was easy to practice every single day, but it wasn’t as hard as I expected. And that’s mostly because I could literally feel how good it was for me with each major sweat session.
To provide a little context for you all, I started off as a total yoga novice when I first walked into my local yoga studio on Hawaii’s north shore. I first bought a 20-class card, and when I realized how much I loved the people and the teachers in the studio, and how challenging and rewarding this practice is for both mind and body, I switched to a monthly-unlimited plan. Once I was going to class more often, there were a few people that I would see in every single yoga class I attended, no matter what day of the week I happened to show up on. And I soon learned that a few individuals were practicing every day; completing 30, 60 and 90-day challenges.
I remember thinking quietly to myself (seriously, I barely let myself even whisper it): “I wish I was the kind of person who could practice yoga for that many days straight.”
And then somehow, one day, I realized I loved my studio, my practice, and my body enough to just go for it…. and to shout out into the void (aka the internet) about the challenge I was going to be attempting, so that I’d have a major way of being held accountable.
And it worked. I did it — with the help of you, dear readers.
I didn’t want to quit my challenge and then be unable to write this post about how completing 30 days straight of hot yoga affected me. The accountability that came from writing blog posts, hearing questions about my challenge from my husband, family, friends, and my yoga instructors all made it relatively second-nature to show up to class every day.
When I first began my 30-day challenge, I had a pretty good idea of the issues I had with my practice up front, so I recorded them in my notebook as things to work on. I had:
- limited flexibility
- weak hamstrings
- tight hips
- less than desirable balance
- difficulty drinking enough water to stay hydrated
The immediate benefits I noticed from practicing hot (think 105 degrees) yoga every day were improvements in all of my problem areas. After ten days of daily yoga, I noticed my flexibility was improving, I was balancing with much greater ease, I had a clearer presence of mind, improved breathing techniques, and had gotten so much stronger.
Feeling myself becoming stronger was definitely one of the most rewarding things during the 30 days. It was so cool to experience break-through moments during certain postures, where all the sudden things would just click, and I could kick higher in Standing Bow or drop lower in Triangle.
But I also learned that every single day is a different practice – and there are definitely good and bad days; tired and weak days, even among the really strong and successful ones.
For example, on day 10 of my challenge, I definitely cried in class.
It was difficult and grossly sweaty and I was weary and tired, and for some reason my emotions bubbled right to the surface while I was lying on my belly on the mat, continuing into the floor series of the Bikram yoga sequence. I don’t think anyone even noticed the few hot tears that escaped from the corners of my eyes (after all, this particular yoga is a pretty liquid experience), but even if my teacher would have, I’m sure she would’ve repeated that now-familiar mantra:
“It’s a different practice every day. Be kind to yourself wherever you’re at today.”
And, sure enough, day 11 of my challenge was a high point. Everything just felt good, and I was able to push myself further in each posture.
After two weeks of daily practice, yoga really just started to feel like part of my routine. In my notes, I wrote that on day 18, one of my teachers told me I was getting stronger. She said, “You’ll improve and then plateau in this practice, and then you’ll have to push to improve again.”
At 20 days, my core strength, endurance, and “push-through” ability had clearly increased. I was staying measurably more hydrated; to positive effect. My legs had really strengthened and I noticed a lot more muscle definition. Weight loss was another natural effect of the daily practice. My spine flexibility and back strength had increased significantly, too.
Some of the most gratifying moments during my challenge were when my instructors would tell me I could “switch my grip” or alter different postures in certain ways that would be more challenging or allow me to go deeper into the pose. And even though there were certain days where I did feel like the practice was harder than it had been the day, or even the week, before – ultimately I continued to feel like there was nowhere to go but up. And that is a great sentiment.
I would definitely recommend pushing yourself to do a challenge like this, even if only because you can. For me, it was just enlightening to realize what I’m capable of, and how pushing myself for 90 minutes each day allowed me to be in a more relaxed mental state for all the remaining hours of the day that followed. With a daily practice, I became more aware of my own mind and body in everyday life and in general.
Like I said in my last post: I drank the Kool-Aid.
I have a feeling you might, too. 😉
Namaste, babes. ❤