What I learned from my 30 day yoga challenge

Posted by on Feb 7, 2015 in Healthy Living, Wellbeing | 4 comments

What I learned from my 30 day yoga challenge

At the start of every year my social media news feeds become endless lists of new years resolutions.  I’m not a big fan of making new years resolutions.  Too often we get caught up in the new year fever and make broad and vague resolutions like “this year I’m going to lose weight”, “this year I’m going to workout more” or “this year I’ll be more social”.  These are easy to forget about and aren’t easily measured.

We are more likely to succeed if we set smaller measurable goals.  If you want to lose weight, think about something that’s a problem for you, maybe its that daily chocolate, and make a specific resolution – e.g. that you will only have 1 serving of good quality dark chocolate once a week.

Rather than just saying you want to workout more, set an actual  target, e.g. “I will commit to 3 workouts every week” and put them in your diary in advance like any other appointment.  Literally schedule into your diary the gym / meditation /  walk or whatever it is, then treat it like a non negotiable appointment.

We also need to focus on making changes one at a time, rather than bombarding ourselves with several all at once – keep it simple and achievable.

For me, I decided to kick off 2015 with a commitment to myself to do yoga once a day for 30 days.

My sister had gotten me onto Yoga With Adriene which I love, she is really down to earth and has a youtube channel with tonnes of free yoga sessions that she guides you through.  Adriene was kicking off a 30 day yoga challenge that was able to be downloaded, perfect for the Beijing winter when I didn’t want to leave the apartment!

So, here’s what I learned from my 30 day challenge:


A little gives a lot

Giving yourself a little bit of your time gives a lot to your body and mind.  Often the yoga I would do each day was only between 15 to 30 minutes, but it was amazing what that achieved.

Take some time for yourself, whatever time you have available.  I’d say most people could find 30 minutes of their day to give to themselves (perhaps a bit less time on Facebook, or watching that tv show..?!)

If you are really pressed for time, even 5 minutes a day will help.  No joke.  For 5 minutes every day lie in Savasana (corpse pose) and focus on relaxing your body and your breathing.  This act of connecting with your body and your breath will do wonders.

Take it slowly, we are always in such a rush to do everything, but there is so much pleasure in slowing it down.  The reason this pose is so restorative and healing is because for even just a few minutes we are giving ourselves permission to just be.  Do not underestimate the importance of stillness.


Do what makes you feel good

Don’t let anyone else dictate what is best for your body (or your life for that matter)!  You know your body, if you are in pain doing a pose, tone it back, or rest in child’s pose, these are just as valid – it’s your practice.  Be gentle with yourself.

There is so much value to be had in simply coming to the mat and connecting with your breath, allowing yourself to be present. It’s easy to never really be present, to have your mind elsewhere worrying about what might happen, or what has already happened.

For me it is often in resting poses that my mind wanders elsewhere, thinking about things to do or waiting for the next movement.  When this happens I gently remind myself to come back to my breath and be present in that moment.  By focusing on your inhale and exhale, you are focussing on what is happening in the now.

Let go, surrender, and be still.


Sunrise yoga at Bronte beach, Australia


The hardest part is getting started

This is true for so many things in life, but I think particularly for exercise.  Some days I didn’t feel like doing yoga, but I made a promise to myself that if I got onto the mat and did the first five minutes, I could stop if I wanted to.  And every time after five minutes I wanted to continue.

When I lived at Bondi Beach I would get up at 5am every day for a sunrise beach workout before going to work.  A lot of people didn’t understand how I could do this, but if I was ever struggling to get up I would think about the way I felt after each workout – absolutely amazing!

You never finish a workout or yoga session and think “I wish I’d slept in instead”, but I guarantee that every time you sleep in or watch tv you wish you had gone out and done something!  Next time you don’t feel like doing that gym class, going for that walk / run / swim, just put your clothes on and get started – you’ll thank yourself afterwards.


Yoga by the sea at Manyana, Australia


Accept yourself

Remember it’s not a competition.  You might find yourself looking at the instructor or other people and enviously thinking “I wish I could do that / looked like that / was as flexible as her…” but it’s not about anyone else but you.

As long as you are trying to improve and be better than you were yesterday, that is amazing!  It’s not about being THE best, it’s about being YOUR best.

Also realise that each day will be different.  Some days I came to the mat energised and happy, other days I felt tired and uninspired, but I always came to the mat, acknowledged how my body and my mind were feeling and accepted those feelings.

Making time for yourself is enough, you don’t need to achieve each pose perfectly.  Take time to check in with yourself, and keep it light and playful.


A bit of help from a friend!


Don’t give up if you stumble

There were a couple of days when I didn’t do yoga (gasp!)  One of those days I got up and went to the gym, came home for a quick shower and then walked to work.  I had a meeting after work which turned into dinner, and by the time I got home I just wanted to go to bed, so I did.

I decided I wasn’t going to beat myself up about it either.  As long as I was doing my best with the challenge, that was enough.

I listened to my body, which some days needed rest, and that was ok.  It’s ok to get off track, in fact it may be part of your track!  It’s what you do next that counts.  I simply focused on moving forward and continuing with my practice.



Most important of all – have fun!




  1. You’ve got me going.

  2. You’ve inspired me Emma to take up a yoga challenge as Canberra Winter hits early!

    Can’t wait 🙂

    • Lizzie you should try Yoga With Adriene it’s great because you can do it without leaving your house so no excuses in winter (my family is from Canberra I know how cold the weather can get there!) xx

  3. Em, what a fantastic post. You have inspired me to set a challenge of at least 5 mins of yoga everyday too. I always feel better afterwards but haven’t been diligent lately with little munchkin occupying most of my time, maybe one day he’ll do yoga with me 🙂 x

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