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So, I did it! I have just completed my #30daysofyoga challenge.My halo is gleaming, my triceps are aching and face is glowing (may be left over perspiration from Jivamukti). After 30 varied yoga classes in 30 days (a lot of them new to me) I have not only survived to tell the tale, I in fact recommend that you do it too. Despite moments of frustration and regret, ultimately it was a good experience and I ended feeling revitalised. I have seen more of what is out there currently in the yoga world, have discovered more about myself, my body and what I want to focus on in my work. TOP 10 FINDINGS:
1. There are a lot of great teachers and lovely studios all over London, all vastly different, it was worth trying some new classes out to discover some hidden gems. There is a strong vibrant yoga community in London and it is a wonderful thing to be a part of, it is open to anyone as long as they make an effort to knock on the door.
2. I learnt a lot about myself and yoga in the classes I enjoyed least. It was when my ego flared up the most as well as my list of rules about what yoga 'should be' which meant I had to work harder to let go. I realised I can let go of the need to impress people and if sometimes I do things a little differently, well, that's alright. 3. My biggest concern was that I saw plenty of beginners in classes that are not suitable for them. I was worried they could really injure themselves when doing extreme yoga asana without refined body awareness. Obviously I can't really do anything about this in someone else's class but I thought I should just say it and keep saying it. Some classes are moving so quickly that it took me a while to realise I was hurting my back - and I am pretty cautious! 4. I spent years doing yoga and not really understanding how to move from my core. Only very recently have I started to work out how the bandhas engage and what a difference it makes when I use them in my practice (all my sacroiliac tweakiness vanishes). I could really feel a difference in the classes that included some deep core awareness and subtle conditioning and fallen back in love with Pilates (thanks to Eleah Waters)!
5. It is so wonderful that there are more meditation, yin and restorative classes around and they are much busier than they used to be. People are valuing stillness. I am very grateful to people like Norman Blair and Adelene Cheong who have been teaching me to slow down for years in this frenetic city. Going to a weekly restorative class was one of my personal highlights of my #makeshifturbanretreat.
6. I was reminded that even just a little bit of yoga every day goes a long way. My body loves to move. So many times I felt too tired to do yoga, but when I forced myself to do just a little (on the days I relied on online classes!) I felt so much better afters. And although it was a schlep going to yoga when I was traveling to Edinburgh it felt so great to anchor myself post train rides and in the frenzy of festival-ing. No matter where you are you can yoga.
7. The power of intention is so strong! I really wasn't sure I would actually do 30 classes in 30 days. But because I put it out there I did it. Writing about it was very helpful, and having people ask and support me with it was annoyingly useful on the days I felt very lethargic.
8. I am looking forward to doing more self practice again. Teaching in the middle of all the classes was pretty challenging as I felt a bit overloaded with ideas - thankfully students were up for trying out some of the new moves I discovered from Kundalini, Rocket Yoga and Voga!
9. There is a difference between working out and yoga. Yoga is about being aware of what you are doing while you are doing it. I found it very useful to question what I am looking for in a practice and for me looking for awareness and nourishment are crucial. As soon as I start competing or self-flagellating I feel alarm bells go off that I am no longer actually doing yoga.
10. If it appeals to you I do really recommend making your own urban retreat. The way I did it was best suited to if you are freelance and have a 'resting month' but other ways you could approach it are: - most studios in London offer a special introductory offer for their first two - three weeks e.g. The Life Centre, Triyoga, Indaba Yoga offer this option. Sign up somewhere new to you and go every day during their offer.
- there are various excellent online yoga studios e.g. 'Movement for Modern Life' - which means you can stream a yoga class in your own living room every day with an array of great yoga teachers. With the first 14 days free!
- feeling fatigued? Do an hour of restorative yoga every day for a week. Get hold of Judith Lasater's Relax and Renew book, buy a bolster and set aside the space and time to have an hour of rest every day for a week. WARNING: you may never be the same again! N.B. Tell people you are doing it so you are held accountable, document it to help you assimilate the inspiration and maybe even raise money for a cause close to your heart whilst doing it.
I do hope to keep up my deep practice and although maybe not a class everyday, I will continue to challenge and find my edge so I grow as a person, student and teacher.
Hope to see you on the mat somehow, somewhere. Thank you for all your support!