The rules were simple, complete the 30 day yoga challenge. That’s one a day, so if you miss a day you’ve got to make it up somewhere else.  All classes were attended at Body Mind Life Bondi (and no they didn’t sponsor me…I’m not nearly cool enough for that.)

I don’t know about you but I was/am/still am seriously over winter! I can’t go surfing as much as I like, I can’t train outdoors and I’m not even close to pretending like I was motivated to sweat it out with the rest of them in group exercise classes (errm a personal trainer, am I allowed to say that?) Instead I took another route, I’d let myself off the hook by completing a 30 day yoga challenge over the cooler months.

I did a range of classes over the 30 days from beginners to advanced and yin (which is pretty much holding a pose for an inexplicable amount of time) basically as someone who is pretty time poor it generally came down to which ever class I could fit in.

At first the most challenging thing about it was…

That I had to try and find an hour each day out of my hectic schedule. I couldn’t believe how hard it was to section out 1 flippin’ hour each day. This had to change. And here’s how it went down…

Something I hadn’t even realized first up was that I breathe way too fast all the time. The only time my breath is slow and controlled is when I’m sleeping…and unconscious so it doesn’t really count. It’s not something I thought was a big deal until I learnt how to slow down and control my breath.  Not only did it instantly calm me down but I found my thoughts suddenly became less important and my body became the forefront of my attention. Suddenly my quality of breath was deep and long and my thoughts were becoming shallow and weak.

The biggest question on everyone’s lips over the course of the 30 days was…

“Yeah but did your body change?”

I’ll be completely honest, my body didn’t change one iota. “Yeah, but surely you’re more flexible” was the second question and yes I’d say my flexibility was certainly up there with the Jane Fondas and Taylor Swifts of the world. But it wasn’t the most moving of results what was rather was that my mind had shifted and that’s a pretty powerful thing for a girl who’s stubborn and think’s she knows it all.

Something I always looked forward to was the savasana at the end (basically a fancy word for a nap) but to the yogi’s I quickly learned was the time where my body could relax from all of the physical exertions from the various twisty, inverted, contracting stretches. My body would scan itself for any remaining muscular tension and then would release it to promote deeper relaxation. Here I was thinking I was solving 1st world problems by abolishing Big Brother, where my body was doing something much cooler.
What was most impressive was my strength and endurance. Suddenly I’m able to hold advanced poses for longer, I’m able to attempt new binds (bendy, twisty holds) and I can officially say now that downward facing dog does actually feel like a rest than a chore because my strength has built to hold me up. And because I felt stronger, I felt more empowered , motivated and inspired to try new things not just on the mat but in my real life too.

5 things that changed my life:

Better sleep

Never, not once, did I not have a seamless sleep whilst on the challenge; I’d often take some magnesium each night before bed which worked a treat.

Lower stress levels

Basically yoga lowers cortisol levels,  normally the adrenal glands secrete cortisol in response to any type of crisis (i.e.: not updating a food pic on Instagram) which temporarily boosts immunity, but not for long periods of time so if we’re not actively trying to lower those levels daily you’re constantly putting your immunity at risk. I’d have to say I really noticed this one the most, I felt less stressed almost instantly, or rather knew how to handle the stress instead of it handling me.

Reduced joint pain

Every other week I was zipping off to the Chiropractor to get snapped back into place and lengthened out. Needless to say, I haven’t seen him for months now. My joints are happier; moving well and there’s no longer any niggling pain in my lower back and hips from wringing out in twists and back bends.

Boost in erhm… sexual performance

I debated whether including this one…but here goes. Basically yoga increases blood flow into the genital area, which is important for arousal and strengthens the pelvic floor muscles. Mentally, the breathing and mind control involved with the practice can also help improve performance. Whether my boyfriend noticed or not… I definitely did!

Improved flexibility and mobility

Essentially yoga works to lengthen your muscles, so you can say goodbye to feeling any tightness or stiffness. When you’re stronger and more flexible your posture improves and so does your mobility, pretty powerful stuff.

So there you have it, a life changing 30 days and it all happened over winter, who knew! A big shout out to the team at Body Mind Life Bondi, thanks heaps!

Follow on @avaycay on Instagram and facebook for all my challenges and more.

My biggest physical challenge to date has been the Camino in Spain, read about it here.

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