An asana a day: can I make it stay?

I have an approach-avoidance relationship with fitness challenges.  Many of our bloggers have written about, taken on and completed lots of challenges:  steps, running, biking, yoga, etc.  Reading their stories I’m always amazed at their persistence and successes at completing whatever task or goal they set.

You see, I’ve never thought of myself as good at maintaining consistent and long-standing fitness habits.  Sure, I love to cycle, walk, swim, do yoga, ski, play racket sports and paddle, but the only activities I do regularly are cycling and yoga.  And when I get too busy or too tired or otherwise discombobulated, those much-loved activities go by the wayside.  I do resume them, but with a little embarrassment at having dropped the ball (sorry for the wrong sports metaphor here).

Well, it just so happens that about 6 days ago, I noticed that I had done yoga 4 days in a row.  I’d gone to two classes and, apropos of nothing in particular, done yoga at home using yoga DVDs.  Hmmmm, I thought.  Maybe I can keep this up.

So I found an online yoga challenge (among the bazillion ones out there), called the Bad Yogi 30 Day Challenge.  I subscribed, and the links to video yoga workouts started arriving in my inbox.  Great, I thought– I’ll get started.

Well, the Day One Challenge (which was actually day 5 for me) was kind of a bust from the beginning.  It started out seated in what’s called Double Pidgeon pose, which looks like this:

A woman seated on a yoga mat, right leg crossed in front, left leg on top of right leg, left ankle resting on right knee.
A woman seated on a yoga mat, right leg crossed in front, left leg on top of right leg, left ankle resting on right knee.


No.  That’s not happening for me.  I can’t come close to that position.  Sigh.  I sat crossed-legged instead, but it set the wrong tone, and I wasn’t feeling uplifted by the end.

I wondered– is this it for my as-yet-undetermined self-imposed yoga challenge?  Turns out, it wasn’t.  I remembered a blog post written by Laura Rainbow Dragon, called 366 Days of Yoga.  In it she talked about deciding to do yoga every day for 30 days:

There were days when I only did restorative poses. There were days when my practice was only 5 minutes long. There were days when I scoured YouTube searching for routines that were light on upper body work, or just made up my own routine of standing poses only. (My shoulders and wrists were so weak, even downward facing dog was hard.) There were days when I didn’t roll out my mat until 2 o’clock in the morning and by that time was so exhausted all I did was meditate in legs up the wall pose. But I did it. Thirty consecutive days of yoga asana practice.

Yes!  That’s what I’m talking about!  No pressure to do anything in particular, just some yoga each day.  I never forgot that bit about how doing legs up the wall counted as yoga.  yes, I can do that.

A woman in purple leggings and a white tank shirt lying on her back, buttocks on a bolster, legs up against a pink painted wall.
A woman in purple leggings and a white tank shirt lying on her back, buttocks on a bolster, legs up against a pink painted wall.


So I did.  And I found I wanted to do other poses, too, once I rolled out my mat on my living room or bedroom floor.  And Laura’s post was still in the back of my mind– here’s more of it:

[After 30 days of yoga], my practice still was not easy. My progress was slow. I continued to struggle with both mental and physical yoga demons. And I often despaired that my body was just too old now, too out of shape. I feared I was “over the hill” and would never get back what I had lost. But I kept showing up. I kept rolling out my mat every day, getting on it, and doing the practice.

Today marks 10 days of yoga every day.  Right now, I’m all about rolling out the mat and seeing what I end up doing.  I have DVDs, a bunch of Bad Yogi challenge videos links, and my own sequences learned from having gone to yoga classes now for more than 1.5 years at my local yoga studio.  And of course I can go to classes there, too.

I really Really REALLY want to be able to report back here that I completed 30 straight days of yoga.  It’s not clear why I’ve never allowed myself the pleasure of this kind of completion before.  But now seems like an fine time to do just that.  Wish me luck.

How has it been for you, dear readers, to complete or not to complete a challenge you set for yourself?  We’ve talked about this before (I blogged about it here), but it’s still a confounding topic for me, and I’d love to hear some of your thoughts.

11 thoughts on “An asana a day: can I make it stay?

  1. I usually avoid competition as I don’t like that pressure…

    But oct 1 I joined a 50 in 50 days challenge at my yoga/fitness studio. With the goal of Making it to 50 classes in 50 days.
    I go almost every day as it is, but I also work full time and teach yoga 2-3 times a day at the y or SPCA. These don’t count, so it has encouraged me to look at the class schedule and try a few things I haven’t before.

    Including hot yoga barre and spin and sculpt. Plus a few late evening restorative classes.

    After the challenge started they changed the rules a bit making it a competition to see who could do the most classes in 50 days. I found this upsetting as I don’t want to become fixated on exercising at the expense of other things….and so I decided to stick with my original plan. I’m taking it as an opportunity to consider other options when life requires it.

    So far, so good.

    That square pose you attempted is really just a version of crossed legs. The modified version is just as much an asana as the pictured one. I am constantly reminding myself of that!


    1. Hi Anne– thanks for the story about the 50 class challenge. It’s cool to read how you decide where your interests and boundaries lie. And also thanks for the info about the cross-legged position. I do have to modify a lot of the poses because of tight hips and shoulders, but my teachers all say it’s about feeling the good effects of the pose, however it works on me. And I’m psyched to keep going!

    1. Yes, you and me both. I do my best to incorporate everyday movement into my life, even when I’m driving to and from work and too busy for anything else.

      1. I can’t walk in the area that I live and work due to the fact that it snows very heavily during the winter months and there is ice on the sidewalks.

  2. I’m on my second 30 day Yoga with Adriene challenge and I’m really enjoying it. She mixes up challenging and restorative asanas in her own irreverent, entertaining style which keeps me from getting bored.

    1. Thanks– I’ll check her out. I also must admit that I looked at a bunch of the other Bad Yogi workouts and they were much more gentle; I’ll pick and choose what works for me any given day. Isn’t it great that we have access to these riches online! Congrats on the second 30-day challenge– I’m impressed!

  3. Catherine, have you heard of Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies? She proposes that people fall into four general groups based on the way they respond to expectations, both inner and outer. For tendencies that don’t do well with expectations, intentional streaks can be very difficult. I’m a Rebel in her framework and I have very little success with daily streaks. I do much better with more occasional things–yoga 3x a week, or only when I feel like it, etc. If you’re curious about psychological and practical ways to help yourself maintain a habit, the Tendencies may help.

    Best of luck, of course, with your 30 days! Completing a challenge is a great feeling. (And I second the recommendation for Yoga with Adriene; she’s one of my favorites.)

  4. I used to like challenges, kind of. Now I just find them oppressive and I end up feeling bad. Sam says it’s because I take it all too seriously. Maybe I do, but I also don’t get why I would commit to a challenge if I wasn’t going to take it at least a little seriously. I get that they’re supposed to add a level of motivation to things that nudges us out the door when we might otherwise not go. But how is that supposed to work if the commitment is only half-hearted? Since that type of thinking appears to be part of my DNA, I’d just as soon skip the challenge altogether than commit without taking it seriously.

    Good luck with your 30-days!

  5. I was inspired by Tracy’s 108 sun salutations and finally got up the courage to start building up to it. So, today I hit 38 consecutive and tomorrow I will do 40.

    I am usually a failure at these kinds of things, but recently finished reading Gretchen Rubin’s Better Than Before and learned some things about myself that are helping me stay on track. I hope to hit 108 on Thanksgiving!

    Best wishes on your 30 days!

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