50 Days of Yoga: I Found the Time, and You Can Too

Like many people, by the time December of last year rolled around, I was very ready for 2021. I thrive on fresh starts and new beginnings, and 2020 had to go. Many of my resolutions revolved around bettering my mental and emotional health, which was definitely challenged after my first semester of school away from home. My busy days and busier nights of high school were only longer and crazier. I wanted to take some extra time for myself, and I decided to try daily yoga. 

Committing to a whole year of yoga seemed pretty lofty, so I decided to challenge myself to just one month, and go from there. Seeing as this article is being published in March and I haven’t stopped yet, it’s safe to say that my mission was a success.

 

The Goal

One month of yoga, 10 minutes per day. I tried to keep my personal “requirements” as simple as possible, and allow myself to fit the yoga in whatever worked with my day. If I really wanted to stick with this, I knew I couldn’t set unrealistic time commitments for myself.

While I hoped to improve my balance and flexibility a bit, what I really wanted to see was how this affected my mental health. Any time I had taken an in-person yoga class in the past, I would leave feeling very zen and at peace. I would get this strange sense, as if I was floating on a cloud, and I would move so calmly and patiently that I genuinely surprised myself. Could I get that same effect from only 10 minutes a day? Would I still feel at peace knowing if I had a crazy day ahead of me, or would I be counting down the minutes until I could get back to work? I was eager to find out.

 

Getting Started

The first week was pretty easy. I was home for winter break, so I had no classes and a good amount of free time. I tried yoga at all times of the day: first thing in the morning, as an afternoon break, or before bed. I was happy no matter where I fit it into my day.

I considered following YouTube videos, but for whatever reason, I dread watching yoga videos. I found that I felt much more present if I just did whatever felt right for me that day. Having been to many yoga classes over the years, I developed a good opening routine, but after that, I stopped planning and just went by feel. Of course, each practice ended with a minute or two of shavasana, when I simply laid down and focused on my breathing.

 

The Next Step

As I started to work and my days got busier, it was more difficult to find the ideal time for yoga. Still, I was proud to be consistent all through January. When I came back to campus for second semester, I had a hard time adjusting to living alone in my dorm, being far from family and having to increase my already serious COVID precautions. With my mental health in a precarious state, it only made sense to keep up my yoga practice. After all, I almost always felt better afterwards, and I could use a mental break each day with my busy and challenging class schedule. Therefore, my 31-day challenge was extended into February. As of now, it’s been about 50 days, and I don’t plan on stopping quite yet.

 

Final Thoughts 

When it came to my yoga goals, flexibility was key (pun intended). If I felt crunched for time, I would set a ten minute timer so that I could make the most of the short time and not be preoccupied with checking my watch. If I wasn’t in a rush, though, I enjoyed just playing some of my favorite relaxing music, starting the stopwatch on my phone, and going for as long as I felt. These days, I would go anywhere from ten to twenty minutes and just feel it out as I went.

Over the weeks, I began to feel more and more comfortable “leading” myself through the flows, and I would research new poses or stretches to keep myself engaged. Nevertheless, a good warrior sequence or deep pigeon pose were some go-to’s when I wanted something simple. 

I even held a few virtual “yoga classes'' for friends, which let me practice narrating the flows out loud, demonstrate different poses and spread my peace towards others. It felt awkward, and I had to think more during the practice, but it gave me a bit of exposure to what it's like to be a yoga instructor. I don’t see myself as an instructor in the immediate future, but if I continue to enjoy leading small groups, I might consider getting an official yogi certification.

Yoga is a body exercise of the physical body, mind, and spirit. Going into this, I was focusing on the mental and spiritual aspects of yoga, and that is where I saw the most growth. After each practice, I felt an unusual sense of peace within myself, and it proved to be a great way to start my morning or settle down for the night. At this point, I’m not sure if I will continue to make yoga a daily practice or simply incorporate it into my life on a more regular basis, but that’s something I’ll just have to feel out.

Overall, I would certainly recommend a 30 (or 50 or 100) day yoga challenge for anyone looking to spend a few extra minutes for themselves and their spiritual health. Not only does carving out the time for yoga force you to take a break from your busy life, it can settle your mind for whatever challenges you face next, whether that be preparing for a big exam or fully decompressing before bed. By committing to 10 minutes of yoga each day, I am certain you will notice a difference in your spiritual well being and overall perspective on life.