Last month, I gave up Instagram and promised to fill the embarrassingly large void of time with something a little more productive. So, I set myself a challenge to do yoga every day for a month – and here’s what happened by the end of it.
Why do yoga every day for a month?
Racing thoughts, crunchy shoulders, stiff limbs – there’s nothing like living and working in a busy city for sending you home with a body (and mind) that doesn’t feel quite right. Yoga – whether it’s a full-on sweaty flow or a gentle restorative stretch – is a great way of tackling those problems. And despite being pathologically unsporty, I’ve always enjoyed yoga once I’m actually doing it.
But if you’re anything like me, you find excuses to avoid it. I’m busy, I’m tired, I’ve already been to the gym – and why are all the classes so bloody expensive? Why does everybody in this room have such glossy hair? Can the person behind me see my pants through my raggedy-ass Sainsbury’s leggings?
The 31-day yoga challenge
Some fairly serious office-induced back (and hip) pain finally kicked my arse into action in the New Year. I set myself a challenge of doing yoga every day for the 31 days of January (as well as dedicating the time to do a Headspace meditation every night). Given I wasn’t mindlessly scrolling through Instagram for an hour a night anymore, I could hardly say I wouldn’t have the time.
The conditions were:
- I had to practice for a minimum of 20 minutes every day, with at least two longer sessions a week
- I would only do yoga in the privacy of my own home, and not pay £30 a pop to show off my limited supply of Sweaty Betty leggings in Shoreditch
- I also tried to do one 5K run a week, because I definitely didn’t make it to the gym for any other cardio during my challenge…
The effects of doing yoga every day for a month
The results? Christ – I’m actually quite shocked by how much better my back feels, and I definitely think yoga is good for your mental health. I’m calmer, I’m more flexible, I slept better, and I actually began to look forward to my time on the matt each day, instead of seeing it as a burden. I think I’ve also got stronger, although it’s hard to tell.
Obviously, the benefits of taking time off Instagram were also at play here – but still. One unexpected side effect was the sense of affection I started to feel towards my body. Hanging out in a shoulder stand, the rolls and lumps of my belly were very much in my face, but I was so busy being impressed with all the news things my limbs were doing that I didn’t have time to self-flagellate.
Can you get better at yoga in a month?
Yes! Even just doing yoga for 20 minutes a day, I can somehow now touch my head to my knees and hold mermaid pose for a good 30 seconds. And (as of last night) I can hold crow pose for… all of three seconds. Which is an achievement, given how big my arse is compared to my spindly arms.
Give it a go, even if you’re a complete newbie, or think that yoga isn’t for you – I even got my boyfriend involved and he seemed to quite enjoy it. Which leads to the next question… what’s the best app for yoga, or the best way of doing yoga at home?
The best app for yoga
There’s a good yoga class at my gym on the weekend, but all too often, it clashes with other plans. And, as I’ve said, yoga classes at studios can be expensive. So, I set about researching the best yoga app. In the end, I plumped for Down Dog – and I’ve fallen in love. Pick a time, pick a type, pick a muscle area boost (like chest shoulder opening), and even pick the accent of your instructor… the customisation options are endless. Most importantly, you can pick from total beginner to advanced with well staggered options in between, so no need to feel intimidated.
The first three sessions are free. But after that, yes, you do have to pay for it – although I got it on sale for about £30, I think it’s usually £60 for the year. But given I clocked nearly 15 hours of yoga in total during January, I saved £££ on going to classes. Also, it’s a very well produced app – as a copywriter, I appreciate how it pokes fun at itself on the loading screens.
However, if you’re not in a position to pay, I highly recommend Yoga with Adriene on YouTube. She’s sunny, she’s warm, she doesn’t take herself too seriously, and she has an excellent dog that occasionally wanders into shot.
Yoga every day for a month – give it a go
It’s still cold, wet and miserable at the moment – I can barely be bothered to go to the gym that is literally one minute from my house. But doing just twenty minutes of yoga a day is a manageable commitment. You don’t need swish leggings or equipment – just a basic matt, enough space to roll it out, and a little time to yourself. Good luck, and let me know how you get on – your shoulders and back might just thank you for it…