I've been practicing Yoga regularly for about three months now at my local studio Yoga West in Acton. I've always taken my health and well-being somewhat seriously given that a). I'm not getting any younger as I approach the middle-age stage of my life and b). A city like London that is constantly in flux and always changing brings its own challenges to my state of mind and well-being. I was fast becoming quite disenchanted with modern gym culture and felt like the biggest challenge to visiting a gym wasn't the intensive weight training but having to constantly adapt to this artificial environment all in the name of good health.
I began to think back at a time when I use to attend yoga at a studio in north London. Despite the physical demands that yoga asanas placed on me I had nothing but very fond memories of my brief experiences there. Truth is I've always had a deep interest in Eastern philosophy and religion since adolescence, and for me yoga presented a unique opportunity to combine both my desire to achieve good physical health (via intense rigorous postures and stretching) as well as a higher level of spirituality through reflection and meditation . . . at the same time. Imagine that! So I went back to doing yoga.
In the lead up to my doing the 30 Day Challenge I considered myself a regular practitioner of yoga exercise and meditation. I was attending 4 sessions per week. But I knew that with the cold British winter fast approaching regular attendance and a willingness to want to leave the house was going to prove another challenge for me. The more I think about it a 30 Day Yoga challenge during the cold weeks leading up to winter and Christmas was perhaps the best time for me to face this challenge head on and just do it. 30 days of yoga practice in a row!
Thankfully to make this challenge more enticing, Rebecca Poyurs (who manages the Yoga West Acton Studio) designed and published a really lovely booklet to help keep the challengers on track and stay motivated throughout the 30 days. I am sure even after I complete this challenge I will still refer to it. The recipe for banana and chia seed loaf is a definite winner!
Looking back I think perhaps one of the biggest challenges for me was the walking to and from the studio everyday, most of which was in the evening time. London becomes rather cold in November. Add to this that I live twenty minutes walking distance from the studio and don’t own a car and you have another element of challenge. But in many ways my walking journey to and from the studio started to feel like an integral part to the yoga challenge by providing a unique opportunity to reflect upon the progress I was hoping to make and the gradual progress I was making.
But the truth is when something like this becomes a daily activity, to do otherwise would feel like something was missing. You follow through as best as you can. Follow through. Focus. Follow through. Focus. Once I completed my second week I came to the realisation that I was half-way through - the mental signposts were telling me, "Keep going, you're doing fine. Don't over think it. Just do it." Each yoga session at the studio has a life of its own.
So after 30 straight days of intense yoga practice what I have I learnt and what do I feel I have acquired? It is somewhat difficult to articulate exactly what it is that I am now feeling as a result of this challenge. I will definitely say this: regular yoga practice has given me an amazing sense of mental clarity to face each day with real focus. The thing about London is that it feels like you're forced fed with way too much information and stimuli. Every task seems bigger than it actually is. I mean, some tasks in life are big and important, but yoga has taught me to not over think everything, to just do it, follow through and then see what happens.
Thank you for reading!
Jason Brayshaw, student at Yoga West