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Greatist Challenge: A Month of Yoga Wrap-Up

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I did it.

Twenty-nine days. Twenty-five classes. Four 30-minute practices at home. At least a million "oms" and countless other mantras, too.

First, let’s recap the last few classes. Saturday I finally checked out Yoga Agora near my home in Astoria. The class was tough (serves me right for choosing advanced!), but it's nice to know there's a comfortable, bright, cozy, and (most importantly) SUPER-affordable studio within walking distance of my apartment. Seriously — all their classes are $5, and they offer tons of community "pay-what-you-wish" classes every week! If you're in the neighborhood, check them out!

Sunday I met Kelli and Laura (who wanted to join so badly she RAN from her home in Brooklyn to be with us!) at Strala for an evening Relax class with Tara Stiles. As always, we had a great time, and Tara led an awesome class. Our favorite part was the minute or two of "free time" in the middle of class when we did whatever poses our bodies felt like. I stuck to a pretty classic sun salutation, but I was genuinely smiling the whole time!

Monday I went to an Earth Flow class at New York Health and Racquet again. This week's focus on shoulders did not make my minor shoulder injury happy, but it was still nice to get moving and learn how to adapt each pose to avoid worsening my injury.

Tuesday Kelli and I were crazy enough to go to a warm vinyasa class with Steven Cheng at NYHRC (which we LOVE) at 7 am (which we hate). While afterwards I was proud that we actually accomplished this goal, I was less than happy during the class. Apparently I have no balance at 7am, and heat also makes me nauseous. Who knew?!

Wednesday — leap day! — Kelli and I went to Om Factory for some Antigravity Yoga action with Shelly Bomb! Basically, it’s a combination of aerial arts/skills and yoga. You use big loops of fabric hanging from the ceiling as a prop during class for assisted inversions and other fun stuff. Once you trust the fabric with your weight, it feels amazing. Our instructor, Shelly Bomb, was so knowledgeable and patient with the beginner students and guided us through a really fun, stress-relieving class.

So what did I learn from this whole thing?

I stuck to something. And I discovered I really love it. Yoga is going to continue to be a part of my life — at least three times per week. I found carving out two hours for a class every day stressed me out more than I can handle, but I can dedicate three days per week to something that helps me feel centered.

While I didn't get to cross everything off my list, I realized trying to cram these goals in to one month defeats the purpose of getting to enjoy and embrace them. Why trek around the city to a million different studios when I can keep these goals in my back pocket and cover them all in a less frenzied manner? Will I still try Bikram? Absolutely. Maybe even next week! But there's no use stressing myself out to fit in this one-month period.

As for the poses, I did most! Full lotus, though? That sh!t takes time. Sorry, hips and knees, you just aren't that flexible (yet). The rest: Knocked. Out.

In lieu of my normal list of things to do, here's a list of my accomplishments this month:

I did crow. For at least four breaths.

I did a headstand against a wall without help. I did a tripod headstand prep (with a little help), and I've practiced getting in to that prep posture each class I've had the chance since.

I did a full boat. And I've been practicing it every class since.

I did a wheel! And I've done one every class since. Just doing this pose was mainly about getting over a mental block, and that’s the hardest kind of obstacle to get past.

I tried restorative.

I did some yoga with ropes at Yoga Union! (Thanks, Brette Popper!) Down dog will never, ever be the same.

I did Antigravity with my best yoga buddy Kelli!

I did something for 29 days straight without ever looking back.

I spent at least 30 minutes every day on my mat.

I peeled myself out of bed at 5 am after fewer than four hours of sleep for a 7 am class. (Never again.)

I have finally memorized the mantra Steven Cheng uses at the beginning of each of his classes!

I embraced every "om," "namaste," and mantra thrown my way. Even when I wasn't feeling it so much, I threw caution to the wind and chanted my heart out.

I got other people to join me and support me. I dragged my mom to class, and while she kind of stumbled her way through, I actually convinced her she needed to start going to a beginner's class each week. I got a handful of my coworkers to join me, too! Some more than once. (Here's to you, Kelli!)

I taught my brother (possibly the least physically active, most naturally thin person in the world) to do a sun salutation.

I also may have cried at some point, simply from pure happiness and pride. (But shh, don't tell anyone.)

And last, but certainly not least, I formed some relationships I really hope to maintain:

Steven Cheng from my favorite weekly warm vinyasa class at NYHRC (which I will never again attend at 7 am) was so sweet and supportive when I told him about my challenge.

Brette Popper at Yoga Union, took the time out of her busy teaching schedule (and, you know, running a website) to teach me three of those poses I conquered. She taught me how the body and those poses are connected. (You can read more about my practice-changing session with her here.)

And Tara Stiles and Mike Taylor at Strala Yoga invited me to the studio to try out two of their classes. They’ve converted me with their approachable, fun spirited atmosphere and awesome instruction. I have fun every time I step in there, and will be back with my coworkers very soon!

Thank you to all who joined me in classes, adjusted my alignment, and helped me jump over hurdles! The journey has just started, and I'm honored to say you've all played a part in my achievements!

For you readers, I hope I've inspired you to accomplish the same type of goal. I'll be thinking about how to change my daily routine so I feel happier and healthier, and I hope you do, too!

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