The Gift of My 80 Day Yoga Streak
Here’s what happened when I practiced yoga daily for 80 straight days.
I’ve never truly embraced a yoga practice until this year. As a distance runner I didn’t even want to commit to warming up before and stretching after my runs. Yoga and other workouts were something I’d do for a short time but only because I was convinced they would boost my running performance. Otherwise, those workouts in and of themselves held no interest for me.
But this time something changed. I have no doubt partly because at the time we were closing in on a year of quarantine during the pandemic. I’m sure the fact that I’m in my 50s now also played a factor. When you get older you start paying closer attention to anything that may make life last longer while helping you to feel your best.
In January of this year a friend of mine shared on facebook a yoga series titled, Breath A 30 Day Yoga Journey. It was being led by Adriene Mishler of Yoga With Adriene over on YouTube. Do yourself a favor and go subscribe to her channel.
I had my usual objections to yoga but a few days into the new year I decided to try it out. Right away I was drawn to Adriene’s relaxed manner and that the routines didn’t feel too long. I had recently transitioned into working 100% for myself so surely I could create a schedule that included a daily walk or run plus some yoga. This yoga journey was also centered around breathwork, something my naturopath had suggested I needed to incorporate into my wellness routines to help manage stress.
In order to keep it real let me tell you how hard many of the poses were for me. I’m not super flexible by nature and as a distance runner for over 10 years let’s just say I’m proud if I can touch my toes. But as a runner and a health coach I’ve learned to have faith in results that will come with consistency even if I don’t see them right away. So I stuck with it.
Day after day I kept showing up hoping the routine wouldn’t feel impossible and also playing it cautious as I have a chronic back issue that can flare up at any time. The immediate results I felt were simply the kudos I gave myself for showing up every single day. Then it happened at the most unexpected time. There I was in a lunge getting ready for a spinal twist that always felt near impossible and it felt just a bit easier and I could twist just a bit more. I thought maybe it was just wishful thinking until I realized that I no longer hated downward facing dog. Was that even possible? Upper body strength has eluded me for many years so down dog felt like a super hard pose I could hardly hold and yet, it was simply easier. I tucked that feeling away to see if this was a one time deal or the start of a trend.
Of course the very next day that feeling eluded me but again with my history of running I know enough to know that not every day will feel like rainbows and unicorns. You just get enough of those days sprinkled here and there to keep you coming back for more. And so now the dance had truly started. Little bit by little bit I could stretch a bit further, & hold a pose a bit longer.
On another day I got another big surprise. Well, to say it was big would be a lie. I was taking some photos for my business and noticed definition in my upper arms. Remember my serious lack of upper body strength? I definitely was surprised to see some baby muscles show up in my arms. It’s funny how something so tiny can feel so rewarding! Around that same time I started to notice more definition in my core. These small wins fueled my desire for yet more yoga.
Over the next couple of weeks I started to look forward to my daily practice which for sure was something I never anticipated. After I finished the 30 days I decided to repeat the sequence to see how much more I could improve. My next surprise came when my boyfriend asked if he could join me. He told me he had always been drawn to the idea of joining some type of martial arts practice and felt that a yoga practice had some of the same principles to it. So off we went on a 30 day yoga journey together.
I continued to improve and over time he became hooked on the practice just like I had. Without a doubt there were days when our commitment was tested. Like the 5 days we were without electricity during a storm. We could’ve easily blown it off because we didn’t have access to YouTube but instead we made up our own routines and carried on.
There’s something very powerful about creating an unbroken chain of a daily practice that I’ve never enjoyed before. I tried participating in a running streak once that went from Thanksgiving to New Years but my body quickly told me it was not on board with that idea.
So here I am on day 86 and still going strong. I continue to challenge myself to improve on different poses but my biggest challenge is the ability to just be still at the start and end of each routine. I get antsy and want to move or stare out the window. I trust that I’ll continue to see benefits from showing up and I can’t wait to see what’s next!