Yesterday marked three months to the day since I started practicing yoga. I signed up for the 40 Days Stretch Yourself Challenge at BIG Power Yoga, a Baptiste-inspired studio, on a whim. The challenge, which stared on January 16 and finished on February 24, required participants to practice yoga 6 out of 7 days a week, 5 of them at one of the two BIG studios in Houston. I was one of 500 people out of over 800 who finished the challenge! This description of the program is what motivated me to sign up:
Welcome to 40 Days: Stretch Yourself. This BIG Program is about being someone who is reliable for going above and beyond what is ordinary and causing results that are extraordinary. It is about stretching yourself to your next levels of fulfillment, leadership, contribution, expression, and revolution. You’ll discover yourself as someone who is unstopped by the obstacles that make you want to settle. You’ll choose to stretch yourself in the face of challenge so you can cause real changes that alter your experience of yourself and the world. Join us for 40 Days of yoga, meditation, self inquiry, mindful eating, and the power of community. Be ready for an adventure. Be ready to surprise yourself. Be ready to experience yourself as more powerful than ever before. Be ready to stretch yourself.
My goal for the end of the 40 Days was to experience myself as strong, powerful, calm, and centered and to be a person who practices yoga. At the end of the challenge, I made a list of things I accomplished:
- practiced yoga 6 out of 7 days a week
- wheel pose, flip-your-dog, and 1/2 pigeon
- wore racer back tanks for the first time
- planned my yoga schedule a week ahead and was on time for all classes
- got a dog!
- gained 4 new closet organizing/personal styling clients
- met new people and connected with old friends
- watched less TV and went to bed earlier
- read In the Woods by Tana French
The benefits of practicing yoga go beyond asana (the poses.) I felt embraced and supported by the BIG community. All of the teachers are excellent, and I learned something new in every class, like how to let go of intrusive thoughts and focus on my breathing; to forget about what I look like and stop trying to do everything perfectly; and to show up on my mat, even when I don’t feel like being there. I learned that wobbling is good, it’s okay to fall, and sweating profusely won’t kill me. I learned that I need to try new things every once in a while in order to, well, stretch myself!
At yesterday’s class, my 71st practice, the teacher, Nick, said, “How you are here is how you are everywhere.” I am the same person on the mat as I am off the mat. I am strong, powerful, calm, and centered, physically, personally, and professionally. I carry everything I learn in the studio out into the world.
I am so grateful to Laura Rust and Nancy Perry for creating such a dynamic place to practice yoga. BIG has changed my life – I walked into the right studio at the right time. I can’t wait to learn something new about the practice and myself this afternoon!