Health

Out of Practice? Try the 12-Day Yoga Challenge

| by Everything Yoga

I have a confession to make -- I don't like routines and schedules. I like to live according to my own rhythms and I chafe at being forced into a "regular" schedule. I think it goes way back to when I was a baby. Around two years old, I started jumping out of my crib. Needless to say, jumping high enough to take a header on the floor (according to my mother, I got quite a bit of height and perfected my dismount -- but I didn't always stick my landing) scared my mother to death. Realizing that I wasn't going to stay inside of my crib, my mom reluctantly put me in a "big girl" bed at the young age of two. Yep, even back then I didn't like restrictions.

As I got older and life got a bit more hectic, I realized that my favorite activities just didn't happen unless I started scheduling them in. Since I shied away from strict time management philosophies and systems, I made these appointments with myself sound a little softer by calling using these words: practice and ritual. Somehow the phrase "my daily ritual" sounded a lot more inviting than "to do list" and "practice" sounded a heck of a lot more fun than "appointment" or "workout."

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The more I practiced (or completed my daily ritual), the more drudgery morphed into momentum. Before long, my daily practices and rituals turned into sacred time that I looked forward to rather than tasks on a list to be checked off. To get to that place of sacred action there's only one thing you need to do -- begin.

This simple philosophy has gotten me to where I am today -- with roughly a decade of a regular yoga practice (a home practice, I might add). Just recently I added in a few other rituals to my day. Right before I started, I felt the old familiar feeling of "ack, another thing to do each day," a thought that I quickly squashed. Rather than continue with that train of thought, I pulled that thought train into the station and went with my simple, but effective mantra -- begin.

How is your relationship with practice? Do you have a regular yoga practice? Are you meditating as often as you'd like? Do you find yourself longing to do these things that you know are good for you but finding yourself for a loss at finding the time to do them? Is your struggle with beginning or finding momentum and maintaining?

If you're looking for a fresh start with your yoga practice or any other spiritual practice, for that matter, here are a few resources to help you go from begin to momentum:

  • YogaBear.org offered a fabulous 12-Day Yoga Challenge last month. It's like the 12 Days of Christmas, only with yoga -- what's not to love about that? The daily practices are short, simple, and sweet, so it's easy to fit them into your schedule and turn yoga into a daily practice (even if it's only one pose). Here is the challenge, complete with links to the wonderful videos:

Day 1Ujjayi Breath. Just 5 minutes a day can put you in a yogic state of mind (and body).

Day 2Seated Side Bend. Strengthen the mind body connection.

Day 3Seated Spinal Twist. Wring out the organs.

Day 4 Seated Archer. A lesson in accepting your limitations.

Day 5Abs with a Roll. Bring feeling back into an area that tends to go numb.

Day 6Dolphin. Soothing inversion for anyone with wrist and/or shoulder discomfort.

Day 7Chest Opener on the Wall. Expand your inside.

Day 8Lunges. A pose to teach you the lesson of surrender.

Day 9Sphinx and Low Cobra. Stretch and lengthen the back.

Day 10Boat Pose. Feeling high and light without struggle.

Day 11Standing Poses and Triangle Pose. Root into the ground.

Day 12Bridge Pose and Closing. Giving your heart space.

  • If you're looking for a longer and more extensive yoga challenge, try the 30-Day Yoga Challenge from Dashama. The challenge is free and the videos are fabulous. They include everything from pranayama to asana to healthy eating.
  • Trying to establish another type of spiritual practice? The folks over at Spirituality & Health magazine have a wonderful Web tool to help. You Are What You Practice: 8 Steps to Become the You of Your Dreams can help you identify the right practice for you, get inspired to start, and get support as you endeavor to continue your momentum.

National Women's Health Week is still going on and there's no better way to make a pledge for better health than to establish a spiritually, emotionally, and physically nurturing practice.

Practice might not make perfect but it sure does make one happy!

Namaste!