Find out what a daily yoga practice brought to this Bristol Yogi!

It has been almost an month since the Bristol Yoga January Challenge ended. All of our practitioners blew us away with their dedication.  As a community you all supported each other to reach  your individual goals. Seeing all of you come together on the mat warmed our hearts. Thank you for helping us build the Bristol Yoga Community!  

We had Bristol Yogi & fellow challenger, Daniel Wallen write up a summary of what his daily practice brought to his life. Check out his insights here: 

 Daily Challenge Overview

I have struggled with stress, addiction, and depression during my life. Exercise is a form of therapy for me. I love to lift weights and walk my dog, but I have to say yoga calms me more than any other physical training. That's probably due to its focus on mindfulness and conscious breathing, which can reduce the symptoms of stress significantly over time.

I've been an “on-again/off-again” yogi for a few years now, but I never went to more than two or three classes per week in the past. I stepped that up a notch last month by participating in Bristol Yoga's daily challenge. I successfully made it to a yoga class every single day during January. Practicing so frequently produced some benefits that I'd like to share with you.

My posture improved.

Over the last few weeks, several friends and family members have told me I look taller. The body naturally lengthens as your posture improves, so I bet all that yoga had something to do with it.  

It's easier to sit up straight.

I usually sit in a chair when I meditate. It's hard for me to stay up straight in a cross-legged position, so I would have to adjust myself constantly. That problem hasn't gone away completely, but it's a lot easier than it used to be (which is very helpful since TONS of yoga poses begin from this position).  

Poses are starting to feel stronger.  

Down-dog used to be a thorn in my side. The hand placement felt awkward, so I had to begin in plank to make sure my palms were in the right spot. Now I can navigate straight to it. I used to keep my legs close together in the Warrior poses, because my balance wasn't that great. Now I can space them a lot farther apart without worrying about my knees caving in.  

It's easier to concentrate on my daily work.

 Seth Godin, author of Linchpin, often refers to “the resistance.” He uses this term to describe the negative thoughts and self-defeating beliefs that limit your potential. If you ever think you're “not good enough” or worry about being “too old/young/fat/stupid/(insert label here),” you know what I'm talking about.  

The resistance likes the status quo. It would be perfectly content if things just stayed the way they are. Thus, it will raise its voice when you try to do something new or challenging. That's when your mind gets flooded with “less than” thoughts that make you doubt yourself. You might be wondering what this has to do with yoga. A lot, actually.  

My resistance is most severe in the morning. For whatever reason, it's hard to convince myself to begin a project, even if it's something that I know will make me feel proud or fulfilled later. The resistance doesn't care about that. It would be happy if you just sat on your butt and watched TV all day. Remember: it despises “new” and “challenging.”

 The sunrise classes have helped me immensely. I walk out feeling calm and refreshed. It's so much easier to start my day after yoga. I got in the habit of waking up an hour before class, fixing a cup of tea, looking up listings for freelance writing positions, and opening the best ones in new browser tabs. Then, I would go to class and apply for all of them as soon as I got back home.

 This activity used to fill me with dread. Procrastination was a constant struggle. I'd put it off for weeks at a time. I think that's because applying for these positions opened up the possibility of being rejected. My fear of failure wasn't so bad after yoga class. I got to a point where I'd just walk inside and write my pitches without even stopping to think about it. As a result, I picked up three new gigs in a month. That brought in enough income to quit my day job, which means I get to work from home in my pajamas and hang out with my dog.   

Going Forward

I am still going to the sunrise classes after the daily challenge. I'm convinced those played a large role in my success as a writer. Studies show yoga can reduce stress and boost productivity. I'm happy my experience reflects that research.

Teacher training starts soon. I want to get ahead of the curve by beginning a daily home practice this month. I'm going to identify one or two “problem poses” to practice at the same time every day, because consistent repetition is the only way to learn anything.

I've talked enough over the last month. It's your turn. What does yoga mean to you? Tell us in the comments. Stay tuned, because there will be a new yoga blog every week. See you soon. :)