It's the three-week mark of my 30-day yoga challenge and I'm reasonably happy with how it's going.
I haven't practiced every day (missed one) and it hasn't been the massive leap in improvement that I thought I'd see after a month (I'm not doing crow without wobbling and I can't do a headstand... still!) BUT I've been on the mat more times this month than any month, ever, and I'm starting to see improvements. I suppose that if I could master it in 30 days it wouldn't be the lifelong practice I know it is.
So what are the changes? There's definitely a noticeable improvement in strength, especially in my upper body. My core seems to be more stable and I'm not getting lower back pain when bending over/picking things up that I was getting earlier in the summer. The biggest change I've noticed, though, is in my breathing. Breathing has always been my weakest element of my yoga as I often forget to do it when concentrating on poses or flow. That seems to be changing for the better with consistent practice. I've started to get a feel for when I should be breathing in or out with various poses and I think it's even started to become a bit more subconscious to get my breath in AND out... not just breathing in and holding it! ;)
The support from everyone, either those doing the challenge or friends asking how it's going, has continued to be a real boost in making sure I get on the mat even on the days when I don't really feel like it. Those days, and the fact I'm practicing daily, have also really opened my eyes to different forms of yoga, both style- and intensity-wise. My new favourite thing is a bedtime 15-minute yoga practice by candlelight. Even better than a bubble bath and maybe even better than a glass of wine! (okay, that may be be pushing it.)
As I'm writing this I'm looking out the window and can see the first yellowy leaves blowing around in the wind which is a pretty strong reminder that tomorrow is the first day of fall. I love fall -- it's either my favourite or second-favourite season, depending what country I'm in (it's a bit grey, brown and wet in the UK but it's phenomenal in Ontario). I hadn't really thought about the fact that this challenge would straddle two seasons but it's a nice coincidence that means I can explore whether different styles of yoga are better for different seasons. I also love the idea of a new season as a reason to start new habits or try new things so, tomorrow I'm going to start something new (I know, this is VERY optimistic with nine days still left in the yoga challenge): A post-surgery couch-to-5k! I've run a couple of short interval sessions since the knee op but I need some more cardio to balance out the yoga and sitting all day, and I miss running and the sense of accomplishment hitting new distances and better times gives me, so I'm doing it!
Feel free to join me, or just stop in to facebook or twitter to help me with encouragement -- I'll certainly need it with the yoga challenge and running plans both happening at the same time.
Do you do anything at the start of a new month or new season? What's your favourite thing about fall?