After midnight on December 31st, I had never felt so ready to leave the previous twelve months behind and begin a brand new set that provides me with the opportunity to pursue my greatest intentions for both my professional and personal life, though with more emphasis on the latter. 2018 had been an overwhelming year with so many worries, struggles, and fears being heightened throughout. However, that isn’t to say that there weren’t any highlights to celebrate, which is really important to recognise (see my reflection of 2018 here). I have taken so much away from each of those experiences, but come the first minute of 2019, I knew it was time for me to really make a point to move away from what has been, and stride forward into the now.
One of the enlightening things that happened last year, was my switch from the gym to the mat (see my previous post). Never did I think that I would be someone who would be passionate about yoga, nor consider it to be the main way I stay active and move my body. I hadn’t really given credit towards it because I only really thought of it as being too spiritual and not energetic/challenging enough for me to feel it was going to benefit my fitness levels. But I gave it a go, and now about 10 months on I have begun to connect with myself on a much deeper level in both body and mind. It has brought with it a new outlook, a new perspective on life that I could see before though it was always there; that is to simply be.
However, it was tremendously difficult for me to keep a good rhythm with self-care throughout the second half of last year. This took its toll on my mental health and consequently my physical health as I couldn’t summon the energy or the inner strength to look after myself. For as enjoyable and uplifting practicing yoga was, I didn’t get a regular pattern in how often I did it so everything sort of came to a bit of a slump. Knowing what this negative cycle leads to, it was vital that I summoned all my strength and start making improvements to how I think, feel and treat myself.
They say it takes around 21 days to make or break a habit. So when it came around to Cat Meffan’s third year of Yoganuary, I signed myself up.
Yoganuary for those of you who may not have heard of it before is a 31-day yoga challenge to practice every day with the intention of growing more connected to your internal and external self, along with being more present in the here and now.
Cat Meffan is the biggest inspiration for me when it comes to yoga, health, and wellbeing. Her journey is one that is completely admirable, as she has been on a relatable path to my own and has evolved into someone who is continuously working on her self-acceptance & personal growth, offering herself love and kindness.
To find out more about yoganuary head to Cat’s website here for a little guide!
Reflecting on Yoganuary
Now that it is the final day of what has been a mind opening experience, I wanted to put my thoughts into words to reflect on how I have felt flowing throughout the whole of January.
Every day brought something different. The flows ranged from the calm and meditative practice of Yin Yoga, all the way through to the powerful and energising practices of Vinyasa and Rocket Yoga. Having only really practiced one style before this month, it was refreshing and interesting to shift my mindset and work with my body in unfamiliar but enjoyable ways.
Learning more in-depth about the technique required for inversions and holds was certainly fought hard against my resistance to push through the uncomfortable sensations to improve my mobility. There were several occasions when I really doubted my ability to make any progress, as I wasn’t really flexible to start off with. I strive for perfection, wanting to get to the end goal quicker than it happens. Every time I was unable to do something that negative voice inside my head screamed how I am no good at this and should just give up.
Yet, slowly over time, there were little signs of improvement in how easier I found it to transition or stay in a hold. Even more surprising than those achievements, I have been able to sit still, focus on the breath and work through meditation practices. It is so much easier to keep my mind occupied with anything other than the painful thoughts swirling around inside. But in mediation, I had to give way and allow myself to be in the now. To accept how I feel, to acknowledge it is okay, and to let go of the frustrations my negative internal monologue brings.
It is bittersweet that yoganuary must come to an end, but now it is time for me to take forward the lessons I have learned, the knowledge I have gained, the intentions I have made, and step foot on the foundations I have laid throughout this month.
I have finally given myself a chance to breathe and to just be myself.
Do not get me wrong, I am by no means transformed into the most compassionate, kind, loving person towards myself. I understand more than ever that growth occurs when I let go of the rules, beliefs and expectations I have always set, and open up to new concepts, possibilities and broaden my horizon beyond all that has held me back.
There is no perfect way of being nor is there a perfect way to reach any goal. The best version you can be is to simply be unapologetically yourself.