Understanding the benefits, the excuses, and how to get the best out of your February Yoga challenge!
Challenging yourself to maintain a regular Yoga practice over the chilly winter months can seem overwhelming at times, but remember this: your body craves movement, and taking part in the February Yoga challenge is a great way to keep those winter aches, pains and blues away! So join us in our cosy, warm studio and experience first-hand the benefits of establishing a regular Yoga practice.
Having a regular Yoga practice isn’t just about stretching and bending. After your first few classes you will realise that the postures require an ample amount of strength, and this increased strength in turn leads to less injuries, an improved immune system, and the ability to carry out every day tasks more easily. Your body will get used to holding postures for longer, and if practising every day for a month you will feel stronger and the poses you find most challenging will come more naturally to you. You may particularly notice a strengthening of the muscles of the shoulders and the back with the repetition of the Vinyasa.
Become mentally sharper
Whether you’re in a Yoga class, at work or at home, mind chatter can be exhausting. During a challenge your mind will become more peaceful and clutter-free. Your thoughts will become more focused as you learn to channel your energy through your commitment to your practice. Everyone who completes a challenge experiences the same thing – the often unexpected benefit of becoming more focused and aware. In other words, you become better able to retain information and process it accurately. You will ALWAYS be bombarded with information in this technological world but you will be able to just take what you need from it.
Connect to your Body
The Yoga challenge is personal. By committing to your practice you will get to understand that your body is totally unique. Often you begin by comparing your body to others but you will soon see that that becomes needless. At certain points in the challenge you will find that different ways of doing the same pose will bring you different benefits. However awkward or imperfect you may feel, completing each practice with whatever variations you need on that day will give a real sense of pride and satisfaction within your own skin.
It is vital that you do some Yoga everyday when you commit to a challenge. Even though we would always encourage you to come to class, there may be times when you simply can’t make it and in that case we would suggest a short practice at home. This can be just 15 minutes but the key is to make it energizing. Try and come to class as much as you can but don’t beat yourself up or think you’re a failure if you have to do the odd practice at home. The more you practise the better you will feel each day.
Out of Shape
You mustn’t let low self-esteem get in the way of making yourself feel better. You need to nurture your body and not ignore the problems that may be affecting your health physically or mentally.
If you don’t already know, the whole purpose of Yoga is to train a distracted mind. You want to remain conscious of your thoughts but see if you can shift more towards sensing, observing and feeling.
You might be practising Yoga everyday during a challenge so of course you’re going to be even more aware of your physical “limitations”. Sometimes though, these limitations are in the mind as you think there is a certain way you should be doing a posture. This is a common trick of the ego so you will need to learn to accept that it’s time to move beyond the idea of a perfect pose.
Come to class. There are different things you could be doing of course, but come to class every day if you can. Make sure you let people know that you’re doing the challenge and that you will be less available until it is over. A supportive peer group will enable you to focus on your goals and celebrate your achievements.
Out of Practise
Your circumstances are not going to change unless you make a change. The only way you will get your practice back is if you learn to enjoy it again.
Taking part in a Yoga challenge means you may be doing inversions or open-legged postures so you want tops and bottoms that are comfortable and allow you to move freely without being too baggy. You may also find that form-fitting clothes allow you to see your alignment better and they will also be more effective in absorbing sweat.
Most people find it a lot easier to keep up with the class if they don’t have too high expectations of themselves or too low expectations of Yoga generally. If you are a complete beginner, you will be pleased to know that all abilities are catered to in our classes. That’s not to say that every class will be the same skill level, it’s going to depend a lot on the sequence and how it corresponds in your body. It’s always a good idea to let the teacher know before class starts if it is your first time or if anything new has come up for you in terms of health status or injuries.
Don’t Give Up
After the challenge you will feel so proud that you stuck it out. You may feel frustrated at times but the challenge will help lay down a really strong foundation for your Yoga practice going forward. Once you conquer the challenge, you’ll continue to see your practice evolve for years or even decades if you keep it up and practise regularly.
Don’t compare yourself to others but focus instead on your own practice, modifying poses so that they work for you and taking a break in Child’s Pose when you need to.
Lastly, to get the most out of each class, you should connect your breath to the movements. There’s a real opportunity to increase your concentration as you flow seamlessly from one pose to another with your breath, breathing deep into your belly for the best results.
There you have it, everything you need to know to get the most out of your February Yoga challenge! Bringing more Yoga into your life is rewarding on so many levels, so the question is: are you up for the challenge? Restore your mind, body and spirit and enroll in your February Yoga challenge today!