''In casual conversation with Becs & James last week I mentioned that for various reasons I'd started my own 30 Day Challenge a week early; so Becs asked me to share my thoughts and experience of it so far and as she has magic powers of persuasion, I agreed.
It's turned out to be very good timing for me to take stock. Until this week I was feeling strong and focused. I'd been getting to a yoga class four times a week two weeks in a row and had meditated every day I didn't do yoga practice; but this week has been more difficult. A combination of the sudden drop in temperature and the moody weather, a very busy week and tumultuous global political events left me feeling low.
It's all too easy when I'm tired and there's a lot on to feel I should  use the time when I could get to a yoga class to instead do work or 'life laundry' instead. But actually when I practice yoga, everything else seems to go better so I know it's worth prioritising the practice. When I'm feeling strong I'm able to remember that and that's enough to get me to practice.  But this week I've needed extra motivation and I wanted to share what I've found helpful when the going gets tough:
- setting phone alarms whenever there's a class I could get to. As I work but don't live in Acton that's before work, lunchtime and after work.  If I miss one alarm I'm aware of having missed it and I'm more likely to go the next time the alarm goes off.
- talking to my boss & colleagues about the 30 day challenge. I approached this at work by talking about the benefits I've observed with my work (focus, clear thought, stress reduction), offering to be more flexible with my time (arranging to get into work early and being more vocal about work I do outside of office hours), being firm and reminding colleagues about my 30 day challenge so that meeting times aren't booked over lunchtime/yoga time. It's a little scary to have those conversations in the workplace and of course it's not always possible to arrange things in a way that frees me up for a yoga class but take a deep breath and try it. In general people at my work have been more supportive than I expected and some colleagues have helped in encouraging me to get to yoga when I waver.
When I've not been able to get to get to a Yoga session (and occasionally also when I have!) I've made more effort to meditate during the challenge. Again setting alarms and reminders has been key.  I've been using the Headspace App for a little while now which does daily guided meditations using your phone that you can do anywhere you can find 10-15 mins.  I use my tube journey home or find a space at home. You can have the Headspace App set reminders for you and it sends encouraging messages too which helps with consistency. I find meditating at the same time each day is helpful as it means that I'm more likely to remember that way. They also have a free 10 session trial so if you sign up now it could accompany you for the rest of your challenge!
I've also been consciously bringing yoga elements into exercise.  I swim and have been focusing on my breathing and using my core more while swimming.  I also love to go hiking and have stopped to meditate or had silent mindful sections during a hike.  Focusing on the sounds or textures of the landscape I'm passing through as a point of meditation. That can be done on a short walk through a park as much as a 10 mile hike in the countryside!
I have definitely seen the benefit of practicing & meditating more often and keeping yoga at the forefront of my mind. My practice has improved - I was able to focus enough to get up into a headstand and I don't feel as tired after a Vinyasa class. Also yoga has really helped me with another personal challenge - coincidentally my partner and I are having a booze-free couple of months (and given we both work in media that's quite a challenge!) ahead of the festive period.
This week has been a challenge and there are times when I certainly felt like calling it a day and saying to myself "oh well, you gave it a go"; but instead I'm going to take inspiration from the staff at Yoga West and keep trying to engage in some willful discipline and practice every day. And I want to see if I can use the challenge to master that headstand and maintain my balance while the world's turned upside down.''
Gee Davy