A mum's tale of a 21-day yoga challenge
I have always had a resistance to yoga. I have dipped in and out but I have never made a full commitment to it. I'm not sure why, maybe I was scared to go deeper because I never knew what I would find?! But for some reason, yoga was calling me and I needed to listen in to that calling. I had a pretty tough year last year and I just knew yoga was what my soul needed.
There is a gorgeous local studio which kept popping up on my insta so I listened in and took cues that this was where I needed to be. I didn't question it - I instantly booked in for a 21-day challenge with The Retreat Yoga in Camberwell. It also helped that the owner, Pru, is the most divine human soul.
What happened then was mind-blowing. The universe did what the universe does and a week later I pulled my back at boxing. Therefore no boxing or running, and my physio Josh from Kinematics instructed me to only do yoga and walking. Aha. At the time, this threw a spanner in the works. I needed boxing. I needed it. But did I really?! I am a firm believer that this was the universe’s way of allowing me to fully commit to my practice.
As I recently relaunched my social media agency + PR, House of Mouse, and being a mum to a toddler, I was very time-poor. So many nights I was up till midnight working, then up with my baby boy, who is as bright as a button, at 5am.
So, my first few sessions, I started with yin yoga - a slow movement to get my body to adjust. My body is so used to yang (masculine)-type exercise so it was nice to slow down to yin (feminine). However, this was a hard adjustment for me. My mind is SO racey and I have always been of the belief that I needed the yang type exercise to "lose weight”- simply becuase I was focused on body image. I was very concerned yin was just not enough for me. I needed my endorphin release., simply because I was focused on body image.
But my first session was exactly what I needed. Working around the clock, I was exhausted, and yoga was just what my body was craving. A deep stretch to release pent-up emotions, I began to learn that exercise isn't about body image, it's for the mind and body connection.
By day five, I was ready for a little bit more, so I booked into a flow class. I was definitely dreading this one as downward dog was not a pose I enjoyed, but you know what, it was great. I just went at my own pace. I flowed into each movement, closed my eyes and just listened. At the conclusion of the class, I was on cloud nine.
Day seven, after an entire week of yoga, a toddler who was, well, being a toddler, and work, which was out of control, I was a wee bit exhausted so I booked in for a yin class. And let me tell you, that was the quickest 60 minutes of my life. Just what the holistic doctor ordered.
Day nine, my body woke up at 5.30am craving my yoga fix, so I jumped in the car for a 6am class. I was still sleepy, but after I finished, I was ready to start the day, mindfully.
During my first ten days of yoga, very coincidentally I acquired a mat next to a beautiful man called Tom. Tom is a 70-year-old man and does yoga. Every. Single. Day. AT SEVENTY. Tom can do crow pose (when you hold yourself up on your arms). I can’t do crow pose. Seriously, this man is so incredibly inspirational. He lights up my yogi world. He is proof that it doesn't matter what age you are, yoga is for everyone. This man kept me coming back in every day. Tom, I will be forever grateful to you for inspiring me on my yoga journey. We didn't exchange many words, but just your presence was enough to get me through.
Week three. So many times I couldn't be eff’d going. I was under the pump, exhausted, and totally lazy, but I still went. I could have used every excuse in the book, “I'm tired”, “I'm snowed under”, “I need an early night”. But each day I MADE time to go. Proof that we all have time, and it's our choice where we spend it.
Yoga for me was a release. It was part of my daily self-care routine. It was time away from work and distractions from my phone. It was time to connect in with myself and just be. Be in the present moment and be connected to my mind, body and soul.
Week three I felt the most benefit. This was when I learnt to listen in to my body and what it needed. If I had my period or if I was exhausted, I would just book in for a yin class, just to slow the pace. If I had more energy and felt the desire to, I would do a flow or slow flow class. I wouldn't cancel and make excuses, I would just pull right back. Time with the mat was my time. It was an hour of bliss - which FYI is the same duration as an episode of Married At First Sight.
By the last week, I felt amazing. I was so bendy and could touch my toes with ease. I felt strong, with increased flexibility. My back felt realigned (also due to work with Josh from Kinematics). I could feel the increase in blood flow. I was more focused. My balance had improved. I was sleeping better. I felt really connected to myself.
I was really proud of myself for achieving my goal. 21 days is a pretty huge achievement for someone who has never consistently done yoga before. I proved to myself, not to anyone else, that yoga and yin-type exercise is just as important as the yang. It was the mind-body connection I was missing. It was a piece of the puzzle missing to make up part of my bio-individuality.
My last day, I was very grateful that my hubby-to-be joined me. He is definitely not a yogi (he recently fought in a boxing match, so yoga is definitely not his thing), but I really felt the love that he came to support me. I also felt the love from everyone in the studio, especially Pru, who were all so supportive and brought increased energy to each class.
Yoga is most definitely going to be part of my weekly routine. It has healing power. Since finishing the challenge I haven't gone as often as I would have liked, because I seem to be caught up in the hustle and bustle of work. So my next challenge to myself is finding a happy balance between yin and yang exercises to even out my week. To make myself the priority. To listen in to what my body needs. Does it need to be pushed? Or to slow down? Does it need extra stretches or do I need to get outdoors to be connected to nature?
I believe our biggest life lesson is to believe in our intuition and to believe in ourselves. We have everything we need inside of us, so we don't need to spend hours at a gym each day, or at work, we need to listen in to what our body is trying to tell us. Because it knows best.
Studio - Retreat Yoga
Photos - Pru Trundle Retreat Yoga
For a running update on my progress head to my stories on www.instagram.com/jacinthaakkerman