Taking Yoga off your mat & into your life
March 1 – April 9, 2019: Sign up ANYTIME!
The greatest yogis I know, aren’t necessarily those who get on their mat and practice asana on a daily basis. They’re the people who live a mindful, conscious lifestyle day in & out. Working the deeper teachings of yoga into their lives off their mat, into their relationship with others, and with themselves.
The intention of this challenge isn’t to attend the maximum number of classes that you can in a short time period (which is rarely sustainable), but rather to create LASTING positive habits in your life that serve to better your over-all wellbeing, AND to serve as a reminder for ways we can bring the deeper teachings of Yoga, off of our mats and into our lives. Your practice on your mat is only as valuable as the positive patterns it creates in the other areas of your life. So enjoy your practice here, at home, at work, and wherever your life takes you, and watch what a positive impact the other aspects of yoga have on your whole life!
To Enter in the Challenge: Sign up online or in person, for FREE! Your name will be added to the challenge board & you’ll become a part of the yogi team that will help hold each other up and keep each other accountable, as you develop a deeper practice together!
How it works: Over the 30 day span, you will work to bring all of the below positive habits into your day, week, and life (in any order) and watch your life light up with ease & joy! For each item on the list that you complete, you’ll put a sticker on the board at the studio (under that item number), and watch you and your friends grow in your commitment and experience. Many of the items on our list will be completed at home, or in your own time, and so we are relying on the honor system: your honest effort, and your honest collection of stickers will be part of the challenge!
What you get: The biggest reward you’ll get from this challenge is the positive life-changing habits that will support your over-all wellbeing, and create sustainable change for the better. But, we’ll add in one more bonus: Each person who completes the challenge will be entered into a draw for a MONTH of unlimited yoga classes with us!
Below is the list of items to be completed (in any order) from March 1 – 31. Note that there are a few items that need to be done EVERY DAY or SEVERAL DAYS in a row through the challenge. So read & plan ahead to be sure you’re ready to start on day 1!
1. Start & End your day with a full glass of water – every day for 30 days! Most of our population lives in a constant state of dehydration, leading to many different ailments. Starting your day with a big glass of water, wakes up your internal systems and especially your digestive system so you’re prepared for your first meal. Ending the day with a glass of water ensures that the last thing going through your system isn’t activating your body in anyway, but instead is cleansing and balancing to help prepare for a better night’s sleep.
2. Have a Gratitude practice for 30 days of the challenge! For 30 days in our challenge, find a consistent way to bring to mind three things that you’re grateful for. You can write it down, think of it as you step onto your mat or lay your head on your pillow at night, or share it with someone as you start your day (or whatever way works for you). Recalling and feeling into the emotion of gratitude is a simple way to shift your perspective and re-pattern your brain to recognize the good & positive things, as much or more than the negative. And a bonus of writing them down, is that you build a collection of moments and memories that made (and will continue to make) you feel grateful, so the benefits last longer & continue to support your wellbeing. As as one of the great yoga masters has said “The Attitude of Gratitude is the highest yoga” – Yogi Bahjan.
3. Make time for at least 3 minutes of conscious, quiet, stillness for at least 17 days in a row. In our often overly filled, busy lives, we’ve forgotten the value of stillness and quiet. As we discuss with many aspects of yoga, in order to create or bring in something new, you need to have the space for it to fit into. Taking a few minutes each day to be still, be silent, and observe your thoughts, your breath, your body, is one small way you can make space in your life for something new (even if you don’t know what that is). This is also a simple way to practice, and build trust in yourself, that you can prioritize and carve out time for yourself each day. It’s often been said that it takes 17 days of repeating something to create a habit, so start there, and maybe after that it will become a part of your daily routine.
4. Do a meditation and / or pranayama practice every day for at least 10 days. If you need resources for this, our own Bridgette Shaw-Bane has some great FREE meditations and pranayams on her website, or ask any of our teachers when you’re here for class, and we’d be happy to help give you some guidance, or include it in a class (which is often done anyways). Both Meditation, and Pranayama are powerful tools to reign in a scattered, busy mind, and connect more deeply to yourself. These practices are a natural evolution of asana, and compliment any movement practice as well.
5. Attend at least 10 classes in the 40 days, during the challenge. Making a regular routine & habit of your yoga practice, makes it easier to keep with it when you really need it. And means you’ll see the benefits of your practice build more quickly, and last longer, so that yoga “high” will stay with you for not just the hour after class, but maybe a few days until your next class! And being present in your community means you’ll multiple the benefits by engage with others regularly, and building deeper connections, and support to help you stay on track when things get tough. An asana practice certainly isn't all that yoga is about, and actually is a rather small piece of the whole scope of Yoga, but it can serve as a powerful tool, and gateway for us to access the other aspect of yoga & deeper and more subtle aspects of our selves. Plus, being present and engaged in a community has a hugely positive impact on our over-all wellbeing, and is considered one of the important tools to improving and maintaining your mental, physical, and emotional health.
6. Try a Meatless-Monday (or other day) diet, each week the challenge, and ask for or share a recipe with a friend. A vegetarian diet has many benefits, both for yourself, and nature (animals, and the environment). The yogic principal of “Ahimsa” (non-harming), often leads to a vegetarian diet, to reduce our harm on the planet and ourselves. Try eating vegetarian for the whole day, one day / week through the challenge, and see how this might expand your perspectives around what a healthy & fulfilling meal can look like.
7. Try or Do something that scares you, each week of the challenge. It doesn’t have to be huge – maybe it’s a food you’ve been nervous to try, or a yoga posture or class you weren’t sure about, a new activity you were afraid to do, or telling someone the truth about something (so long as it’s actually helpful & not harmful to the situation). As I’ve said before, our growth happens outside of our comfort zone. So facing a fear, and overcoming it, will give the experience of “it wasn’t so bad” and “I could do that again”, so that the next time a fear holds you back, then you have the courage and experience to go forward.
8. Commit one day each week of the challenge to be TV & Social Media Free. Your time and your energy are your most valuable resources. The time and energy we put into things that drain our attention (like mindlessly watching tv, or scrolling our facebook or Instagram feeds), not only waste some of your most precious resource, but also numbs your awareness. Learning to direct our energy, and conserve energy where it doesn’t need to be spent, is one of the deeper yogic principals: Brahmacharya. See how this simple shift just one day a week, again can create space & energy for the more important and valuable things in life.
9. Go to two classes that you have never been to (can be different classes, or the same one twice). Diversifying your yoga practice, means that you’ll have a wider skill-set to use to honor yourself in your ever-changing conditions. The only thing that is certain in this life, is change – and as your body and preferences change, your awareness of other approaches to yoga, and access to other yogic tools, will support you in staying with your practice.
10. Make a meal for a someone else. One of the great yoga gurus, had once said that if you do not know what you can do to support your community, and live your dharma, then one of the greatest things you can do, is to feed people. It’s a simple act that allows you to connect with another, and help support one of their basic human needs. Both you, and the person receiving the food benefit from this act, spreading the good karma beyond yourself, and again providing an opportunity & the benefit of building deeper connections in your community.
11. Donate 3+ items of your own to someone, or an organization in need. We often hold onto the things that remind us of what we ‘were’ or ‘want to be’ when really they’re not reflective of who we truly are, and aren’t being used by us anymore (or never were). Simply removing these items from your closet / home & your mind, brings a greater sense of ease & contentment with who we truly are, and what we truly need, and makes space for us to bring in more of what is in alignment with our true selves. As well, when you donate these items (to a friend, or organization), they get a second life, an opportunity to bring joy and purpose to someone else.
12. Read a book you’ve been meaning to read for a while, or one that’s sparked your interest recently. Bonus points if it’s a Yoga Book! Reading and reflecting go hand in hand, and is one way we can introspect, and understand the world around us, and ourselves, a bit better. Self-study (Svadhyaya, pronounced: “Swad-ya-ya”), is one of the important limbs of yoga, that points out the importance and benefit of introspection and deepening your self awareness. The interpretation of this limb is sometimes considered to be the reading and reflecting on sacred texts – which can include yogic texts, but many other wonderful books also offer us this opportunity. Some of the foundational yogic texts that you might consider reading: “The Yoga Sutras”, “The Bhavadgita”, “Light on Yoga”, “The Heart of Yoga”, “A Path With Heart”, “Introduction to Yoga”, “How Yoga Works”, to name a few (some of which are available in our lending library at the studio, if you’d like to borrow one).
13. Use Only Reusable bottles during 30 days of our challenge. Instead of picking up a coffee in a paper cup, or a plastic bottle of water from the store, make the conscious effort to bring your own mug / bottle / to-go cup, and save the waste. By bringing more awareness to our use of disposable, waste-making products, we can create a habit of supporting the health of the planet. Bringing less harm to the environment, by reducing our waste and impact on nature, helps us all in the long-run so we can continue enjoying beautiful mother nature. Just one more way we can implement the yogic value of Ahimsa (non-harming) in our lives.
14. Two Random Acts of Kindness. Within the 30 days of our challenge, find a way to perform a random act of kindness – twice (can be the same thing twice, or something different, on any day, in any way). A Random act, means that you are not known as the “provider” of the act: you go anonymous, while someone (maybe a stranger) enjoys the benefits of your of kindness. Maybe it’s simply buying a coffee for the person in-line behind you. Maybe it’s brushing off your neighbours car, or shoveling their walk. Maybe it’s writing an anonymous “love” note, reminding someone how special & appreciated they are. You decided what, when, where, and how – so long as you’re not taking credit, it counts! Though we may regularly do kind things, or say kind words to others, there’s a small part of our ego that gets gratified in doing so. Remaining random / anonymous when creating joy for others, takes the ego out of it, and fuels a deeper contentment, selflessness, and experience in service for community.
15. Work with a Mantra or Affirmation. The language we use has a powerful effect on our psyche, physical body, our energy, emotions, and the perspective we hold. Many of us fall into the habit of self destructive language, using words like “should”, “can’t”, and other words that diminish your power and potential. Working with a Mantra or positive Affirmation brings awareness into your language that you use, and creates a shift in that language to be more positive and supportive. A Mantra or Affirmation can be any Short, Concise, Positive, and Present-tense Statement, that reaffirms a pattern you want to create in your life. For example, “I am healthy, vibrant and well”, “I am valued”, “I trust in myself and the wisdom within”, “I am exactly where I need to be” “Everything is happening For me, and not To me”. If one of these affirmations resonates with you, then you can certainly use it, but I encourage you to find something that you truly connect to, and can honestly put the power of belief behind. There are many mantras in other languages as well (Sanskrit or Gurumuki), which you can also use. If there’s a mantra you’re interested in, or curios about – please feel free to ask us & we’ll help you gain a better understanding, and practice in using it. How and when you use your mantra or affirmation is up to you, but here’s a few ideas & tips for you:
- Start your day with it, say it in your mind first thing when you wake up
- Put a sticky-note on your bathroom mirror and repeat your mantra / affirmation the whole time you’re brushing your teeth.
- Use it as a tool to ground you, or focus your attention anytime you might be feeling overwhelmed, down, or scattered throughout your day
- Use it as a meditative tool. Repeating mantra in meditation (maybe with the use of a mala), is a common and powerful practice for creating change.
- Use your mantra / affirmation in your yoga practice – begin your practice with it, and end with it (mentally reciting it).
- Recite your mantra / affirmation in your mind as you’re falling asleep at night.
- TIP: Mantras & Affirmations become more powerful: when you whole-heartedly believe in what you’re saying, and the more often you repeat them. Sticking with one Mantra through these 30 days will help you to see more power from it, than if you’re changing Mantras each week. And Repeat / Recite your mantra / affirmation as often as you like! There’s no wrong way to do it, and there’s certainly no harm it doing it often.