Nilong Vyas is the winner of our 31 day New Year's Yoga Challenge. She attended 28 classes in the studio during January, and only missed a few days in order to attend a yoga retreat elsewhere. The Yoga Challenge was a great way for Live Oak Yoga students to grow their personal practice and for our yoga community to grow stronger together. Watching Nilong practice each day and see her progress was an honor. I asked her to write a guest blog about her experience with daily yoga. Enjoy!
My Yoga Journey
By Nilong Vyas, Yogi
I have been ‘practicing’ yoga for over 20 years. I started in college at our local gym. I loved it but like everything else, I was inconsistent. I stopped and started many, many times trying multiple forms of yoga in the process...Iyengar, Hatha, Vinyasa, Bikram, Hot Yoga, Restorative, Yin, Aerial, Kundalini, etc, etc. If it was available, I tried it. I never stuck with any of them, however, mostly because life would get in the way or I would injure myself by pushing myself too hard (I have a competitive streak).
Fast forward to a few months ago when my husband notified me that a yoga studio had opened up within walking distance from our house. He hinted that this could be a way to overcome the inertia of my most recent hiatus from yoga. I signed up for a class pass but again was inconsistently going even though I could walk there and I really had no excuse not to go, except all the excuses that I DID have (I'm too tired, it's too cold, I don't feel like going, I have too much to do today and on and on).
Then the studio ran a special New Years ‘challenge’. I’ve been to studios that ran challenges before but this one spoke to my competitive side more than any other... there was a free month of yoga at stake (and a t-shirt) so this time I took it on. Although my kids insisted that I was pushing myself for the betterment of my health, secretly, I knew I was doing it for the free t-shirt! I didn't have much to lose!
Since I am the owner of my own business, Sleepless in NOLA, I have the luxury of setting my own schedule. I started scheduling yoga into my day and going every day; some days twice to make up for the 5 days I would be out of town (on a yoga retreat, nonetheless)...I HAD to win!! But what started out as something to scratch my competitive itch also started changing me...it changed how I was breathing (especially in stressful situations in my day to day life), it changed how my body felt (high heels were easier to wear without the usual wobbliness because I was stronger), it changed how my body looked (my arms had more definition and tone) it changed how I did the poses that I'd been doing for the last 20 years by changing the dialogue in my head (I started to adjust myself in the poses even before the teacher cued those adjustments), it changed how deep I was able to get into the poses (I was able to do poses that I was unable to get into before). Finally and most importantly it changed my perspective not only on how I looked at things but also in how I looked at exercise and health in general.
Previously, I would ‘workout’ once a week, possibly twice a week at most but to do an exercise regimen every.single.day was something I’d never before done, in my life. Plus I realized that attending daily classes helped my practice in a way I hadn't realized before. When exercising intermittently, I would forget how to best get into the pose and my muscle memory would have to 'start over' in remembering. By going daily, my muscles 'remembered' where to go quicker and I was able to spend my time strengthening the pose.
What changed in my mindset and as far as scheduling of my day was concerned is that I simply put yoga on the calendar every day and then worked the other activities around that. By doing this daily...for an entire month...I have changed my habits and now I NEED to work out every day or I feel like something is missing. In essence by scheduling it, I made my health a priority.
I can't promise that life won't get in the way again and that I won't skip some classes come February but I do know this much, I am definitely going to put my health first and everything else second. Who knows, I may even become a yoga teacher ;)