by guest author & freelance writer Hazel Slade
So…. last weekend I hit the halfway mark in my first ever 40-day hot yoga challenge. And, I have to say, it felt absolutely wonderful.
Not only because completing 15 classes of yoga in 20 days has left me feeling fabulous inside and out. But also – and maybe even more importantly – I feel great having committed to something which is making a positive change in my life.
Some of you may remember me telling you at the beginning that the thought of a 40-day challenge petrified me. I think I can now admit that part of that was because it was such a large commitment – not only for my body, but for my mind.
It wasn’t really until the end of week two that it dawned on me what a commitment this was. The initial excitement of week one had died down and a little thing called Wellington’s Sevens happened. A weekend of frolics and frivolity left me not only feeling fully retoxed but two classes behind in my schedule. Oh no, I hear you cry. But it is very easily done and I am sure the other challengers would agree…
When week three came along, while I was ready to detox my body again, I had that sinking feeling that I had some catching up to do. While it was tempting to keep putting off those extra classes, I knew if I did I would end up regretting it…. especially if I didn’t catch up at the end.
So… I pushed through and caught up – and, as I said earlier, it made me feel wonderful. But not only that, it taught me a lesson too about yoga in my life off the mat. It is great to commit your body and soul to something, but balance in your life is as important as balance in the studio.
Now that I have shared the latest lesson this challenge has taught me with you, I thought I’d take the time at this halfway point to really think about how I am feeling inside and out. So I asked myself some questions – and here are the answers:
How am I feeling on the outside?
This was a bit of a hard question to answer. I feel stronger, fitter and definitely more flexible – I my pleased to see my feet coming closer to the ground in my downward dog. But the changes aren’t huge. I can’t suddenly do the splits or fold myself in half.
It is a slow process, and I can feel my body changing bit by bit. I only get small aches and pains now, and only in particular problem areas, like my hips. But my body isn’t screaming anymore, not even after a tough class.
As for my balance, one day it is better and the next worse. I don’t appear to have lost any weight – but I am only judging this by how my clothes fit as I don’t own any scales – but I do feel more toned.
However, my energy levels are through the roof and my skin is fantastic, which I think is a mixture of the yoga and the green smoothies I am still guzzling five times a week.
The final change I noticed was when I was hit with a sickness bug last weekend. I was able to fight it off in just a few days, instead of my normal week or two. I can only account that to the good condition of my body at the moment.
So, obviously, the effects so far have been pretty great. Oh, and I treated my body to a fantastic massage with the studio’s resident masseuse Sally, which helped get out any kinks and knots and just enhanced the feeling of overall wellbeing.
How am I feeling on the inside?
Mostly, I feel proud of myself. Proud that I have stuck it out… Proud when I can go that bit further in a posture… proud when I add another sticker to the board… and proud of all the other people who are doing the challenge alongside me.
There is also a sense of unity knowing there are lots of other people going through the same thing at the same time.
I can’t say I feel particularly calm or peaceful, apart from when I am in a class of course or taking the required five minutes of silence each day. But I am finding it easier to still my mind when I want to in my practice and, slowly, I am starting to do that in my everyday life.
Do I want to continue?
Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.
Especially seeing as at the Wellington Hot Yoga studio you have not only the choice of the three types of classes, but they differ in length and in teachers, with each one bringing something different to the mat. However, at this point, I have to be honest, sometimes when I come home from work I wish I could plonk myself onto the sofa and watch the box, instead of getting changed and walking down to the studio.
But I am convinced this is more habit than actual will. Because the second I set foot in the studio and my day begins to melt away, I am glad to be there.
And afterwards I feel happy and proud that I have treated my body and mind to a wonderful workout. I am even starting to miss it on the days I do have off, which I never thought I would do knowing the benefits of rest as much as the benefits of play.
So, that’s it. I wonder what lessons and changes I will see in the next few weeks. It can only get better from here.
More on Hazel Slade:
Hazel is a freelance writer who believes that the written word has the power to move mountains.
Growing up in England, Hazel spent many years working as a writer and journalist, before bringing her love for the written word to New Zealand.
Hazel discovered a love for all things Yogi almost five years ago while living in London, but she has never undergone such an immense undertaking as the 40-day challenge.
She’s hoping to combine her passion of yoga and writing for a truly enriching experience for both herself and her readers.
More on Hot Yoga’s 40-Day Challenge:
Held twice a year, a Hot Yoga 40-Day Challenge is a personal commitment to 5 yoga classes a week with 5 minutes of quiet time each session. A daily green smoothie and attendance at special Hot Yoga events expand the Challenge experience. Students discover the power that comes with a sustained yoga practice. Check out Hot Yoga’s website to find out when the next challenge starts.