30+ days ago I started Yoga Camp with Adriene, an online yoga practice. I finished the camp with only two missteps. One day in the beginning of my daily practice, I just didn’t have the motivation to get up and do yoga. The next day, I felt so good from my practice that I promised myself that I would never miss a day of yoga again during camp. A week later, I went out to happy hour with my favorite friend from work. I came home a little tipsy and chose to skip yoga, not because I didn’t want to do it, but because I knew my stomach would have betrayed me. After those two hiccups, I didn’t miss a day. But it wasn’t easy.
Some days, it was hard to jump into my practice after a 7-hour workday but I was slowly getting motivated. Many times I wouldn’t get around to yoga until 9 pm. Yet as soon as I stepped onto my mat, I slowly began to undo the damage from hours spent sitting in front of a computer screen. Recent studies show that too much sitting can lead to organ damage, muscle degeneration, bad back, foggy brain, the list goes on. Yoga, the unifying art of transforming dharma into action, is known to help with balance, core strength, and posture. After making yoga a habit, I’ve recently noticed how my posture has changed when sitting. I no longer slouch, but sit with heart over my pelvis, shoulders relaxed, techniques learned from one simple seated yoga pose.
Making a habit of stretching each day, for 15-40 minutes, has helped me unlock flexibility in parts of my body that haven’t been activated since I did gymnastics over a decade ago. I felt my lower back ache from forward fold position as I let the weight of my upper body sway and loosen my spine and muscles that have been crunched from design sessions spent lounging on my futon. I even started feeling sore in my ankles and feet from sitting on them flushed to the ground in hero and child pose.
As I made yoga a part of my daily routine, I noticed how my balance improved. During any yoga practice, you’re instructed to work each side of the body symmetrically. For example, if you move into a triangle pose on your right side, you must reciprocate the pose on your left. I noticed that when I would try a pose first on my right, my body would shake from the newness of a pose. But as I tried the pose on my left side, I would execute the pose with much more confidence. Perhaps my left side of the body is stronger and more balanced than the right side (I am a lefty after all). But that’s what my yoga practice is for: to understand my body and learn what areas I need to improve.
I made it a point to look at my body after each day’s practice to see if I could notice the physical results. I saw my mid-section flatten and definition revealed from doing boat and plank poses. My arms and legs have become more toned from just activating outstretched arms during warrior two or pressing into all ten toes of your feet to ground yourself during mountain pose. I felt good. I also noticed the mental results of yoga. It’s incredible how being mindfulness of your body and its movements can make all the difference in what you get out of your practice. For example, breathing can help push your trembling body through the pain of some core work. As I continued my practice, my mindfulness allowed me to move with and steady myself with my breath during poses.
I felt more focused, energized, and motivated to work on projects after completing my practice. I even felt the need to spend more time on myself and my personal work. When working on my own art, I noticed that I was compelled to take a break and work on client projects because I had fueled up on creativity. My productivity has steadily increased; during each design session, I’ve noticed how much more work I get done in one sitting. I’ve also learned to make smaller goals for each day’s work session, to be happy with whatever I’ve accomplished. This positive mindset was picked up from my yoga instructor Adriene, who would remind us to embrace wherever we fell into a pose (whether or not we could touch our toes during a wide-legged forward fold) and to be proud of ourselves for just making it to the mat that day. So what if I only got 1 page of flats colored instead of 5 pages? Progress is progress.
I wholeheartedly recommend subscribing to Yoga with Adriene. I found following a YouTube yoga practice was extremely convenient: I could turn yoga on whenever I decided I was ready to take a break from my freelance work and make time for some self-love. Since completing, I’ve tried Adriene’s Yoga Tone for a quick core work out. Today, I’m going to try Adriene’s Lizard Pose to learn a new foundation of yoga. I’m excited to continue this yoga journey to “find what feels good” for me and finding a balance with my hectic life as an artist and graphic designer.
Yoga Camp – Welcome Orientation: