I find that my home yoga practice can be quite cyclical. It seems to move and flow with the ebbs and tides of the sea of life. The up and downs, along with the seasons and the moons.
I created this 7 day yoga challenge as a motivation guide for when my practice has taken a sidestep. I find that it energises and reinvigorates my love and passion for yoga.
This seven day challenge is more than just getting on your mat everyday, its also a way for you to bring yoga into your daily life. We explore Patanjalis 8 Limbs of yoga to help us connect with our true selves, on and off the mat.
So find yourself a yoga buddy and dust off your mat, the next seven days will change your life.
Everyday follow the themes and ideas of the challenge closely. Create a space for your challenge to run smoothly and be available for when your yoga calls. Have all equipment prepared before you begin, including a 7 day menu plan, a yoga mat and space, a yoga journal, your yoga sequences or videos set up and any classes you wish to take.
Give yourself one yoga pose challenge to work on for the entire week. Add this challenge to your daily asana practice and record all your efforts in a yoga journal.
Choose only good things to put into your body. For me, my vegan diet and no sugar is what I focus on.
Create a yoga challenge team. Working together with friends and partners will encourage and inspire you.
Keep a yoga journal, starting NOW! This will help keep you focused and aware of what is going on with your body and heart. Keep a record of you daily practice, writing how it felt, what you want to work on and how your Challenge Pose is going.
Get creative with your journal. Draw, paint create affirmations that will guide you and encourage you through.
Share your journal pages with friends for inspiration.
Share photos of your achievements and failures. We are all here together. A safe space. Stay connected to others who are also doing the challenge.
Today is the day we move, groove, breathe and find the space between the breathe. To cleanse ourselves of all toxins we discovered over the past few weeks.
Patanjalis 8 limbs of yoga will help align and integrate our practice into our daily lives.
Day one we will be exploring and practicing three of the 8 Limbs.
1. Svadhyaya: The fourth Niyama, or rule, meaning Self Study and Discipline.
“Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra says: “Study thy self, discover the divine” II.44
Today lets commit to our practice, commit with an open heart and devote our day to living yoga. Set your intentions.
2.Ahimsa: Do no harm (non-violence) One of the Niyamas of Patanjalis 8 Limbs.
This one is one of my favourites. Cause no harm in thoughts, speech or action. Ahimsa helps us use the highest form of love. I like to see the world as one and there for do not cause harm to any living thing. Something to think about when planning your meals for the next 7 days. Maybe try a kinder eating habit and see how your body reacts to it. I found that my energy levels improved and my heart vibed clearer and happier, knowing no harm or cruelty has been used to make my meal. Better for the environment, the animals, and myself.
Ahimsa can also apply to how you treat yourself. Go gently and practice self love.
3.Asana: The third Limb of Patanjalis 8 Limbs.
Asana comes from the word “root” to be present and still and to sit comfortably, stability and steadiness.”That which is comfortable and steady”.
Movement of the body. Lets get on our mats, move and steady the mind.
So today, 20 minutes at least of asana is required. You can follow an instructional video, join a class or plan your own home practice.
Kick start your day with lemon water. Cleanse out the system and digestion. Squeeze half a lemon into a cup of warm or cold water. Do this before eating and before your morning yoga practice.
Please remember that if you are a morning practice person, dont eat until half an hour after your practice. Yoga on an empty stomach will help your digestion.
Lets amp up our asana practice with a 30-40 min practice. Ignite the fire within, we want to cleanse our bodies.
Work on your challenge pose longer with love.
We are going to add some Pranayama today too. The fourth Limb of Patanjalis 8 Limbs.
Pranayama is our life force, our breath. Deeper, longer breathes inhaled and exhaled from the nostrils. This will help clear the mind and help with you keeping in the moment. If thoughts keep popping back in, acknowledge them, then bring your awareness back to the breath. You could add a slightly different technique if you feel up to it.
The ujjayi breath.
Ujjayi breath, or ocean breath. A technique that can both help to calm the mind yet energise the body. Keep the rhythm of the breath to focus on whilst performing asana.
Open the back of the throat whilst keeping your lips touching gently. Drop your tongue into the bottom of your mouth and inhale deeply through the nostrils and the opening of your throat. Filling your stomach and ribs with pure air. Enjoy the space between your next exhalation as you repeat the technique only with an out breath. You should be able to hear the breath like a wave on the shore.
Dont forget to complete your journals today, record your meal plans, your intentions and challenges.
“Do All Things With Love”
Firstly, I would like to say a huge heart bursting well done to all who are participating in feeling good. Putting your health first is not a selfish act, its a necessity.
Now lets get our yoga on.
Rediscover your mat! Make it your new best friend. We are not trying to force ourselves to touch our toes, our toes will always be there and its the lessons we learn on the way down that matter the most. So be patient with your self dont rush. Rushing can only work against you.
Saying that, lets go for an hour on our mat today, you can do it! Make the time! You are so important and you deserve it!
So today we will be focusing on Patanjalis sutra Abhyasa. Meaning your practice will lead you in the right direction and together with the sutra vairagya meaning non attachment, gives us the freedom to practice fully in the moment with no distraction from the mind, the body or the outside world.
Connect with your breath (we practiced pranayama yesterday) to help with your non attachment, focus and becoming present.
We also want to check in on our meals, are we still eating mindfully. Cleansing out all the toxins in your body.
JOURNALS! I can not stress how important your yoga journals actually are. They will come in handy for when we have finished supporting each other in your community. They will be your guide and support as you learn, discover and grow.
Are we heating up? Maybe try using the cooling breath before and after your practice. A great pranayama technique to help with cooling down the body.
Sheetali (cooling breath)
Come to a sitting position or lotus pose.
poke your tongue out and roll it if you can. (If you cant roll it, keep the tongue pressed behind closed teeth, exposing your teeth).
Exhale sharply and quickly through the tongue or through the teeth, making sure that the air is cool.
Its is good to do 4 counts then rest.
Be careful as this can make you a bit dizzy so do it with a yoga buddy.
Stay cool friends.
Lets add some intention and ritual to our practice.
By now we should be reaching for the stars with your daily practice. 40-60 minutes of daily asana. Our body is a temple and it is important to help it be free of anything that may treat it otherwise.
Pratyahara. Withdrawal of the senses.
Here we attempt to clear the mind of the outside world and all its many distractions, whether it be material objects, social activities, food, money etc and also the inner senses like images or impressions in our minds. If we can truly go inward with use of mediation and pranayama, our senses will follow.
Simple Mediation Steps.
Create the space, A quiet, warm, inviting place just for you. Could be anywhere, even in your car if you have parked ready for work. A place where you can just breathe.
Come to sitting either in seated lotus or a comfortable easy crossed legs. Alternatively, A comfortable position with a long spine, relaxed shoulders and chin slightly tucked in.
Close the eyes and start to become aware of your breath. You can even do a little body scan to check in with how you are feeling today.
Start to lengthen the breathe and continue to follow it.
Thoughts might start to appear, so greet them with a smile, then put them to the back of the mind. Tell yourself that this is ok and you will get to them later. Return to the inhalations and exhalations of the breath.
You can now add affirmations or mantras. For example, inhale love, exhale peace or the om mantra.
When you feel ready bring the breathe back to its natural state, bring your awareness back to the world and give yourself a secret smile.
A morning ritual might be the way to go for you, check out my video on Morning rituals and gratitude.
Dont forget your Journals, Most important.
Wow, how good are we for reaching over half way!
Lets focus on your asana today. Amp it up, get the fire in your belly (agne) roaring. Perfect your Ujjayi breath and lets engage the bandhas.
Bandhas are your bodies root locks.
Mula Bandha is where you engage the perineum or pelvic floor muscle.
Uddiyana Bandha is the contracting of the abdomen under the rib cage.
This is a very subtle action. Bandhas allow the energy to flow giving you a sense of lightness between the two locked bandhas like poles.
There is a third, but its best we practice with these two and our Ujjayi breath for today.
If we have arrived at the weekend, Be strong today, stick to you meal plans, your yoga challenges and connect deeper than ever before. Only one more day, your body will love you for it.
Here are some energetic detox poses to help with your asana practice today. Helping wth digestion and all over wellbeing.
If you haven’t had a chance to create your own morning ritual, click here to print out one of mine. This will help with keeping the flow after this week.
Write in those journals and show us your creations.
WOW!! You made it to the 7th day!!!!!! So proud of you all. How are you all feeling? Fresh and motivated, energised and focused.
Now how do we keep the flow?
Here are 7 ways you can keep your practice flowing! Check them out and if you need help, connect with your community.
Dedicate your practice to yourself today. You are strong, healthy and happy. You deserve this time.
Feel proud, give yourself a secret smile and extra time in shavasana (relaxation pose) just because it is Sunday and you made it to the end of our cleanse.
Keep up with your journals and share them with your yoga partners.
May you have found acceptance, compassion, strength, selflove and kindness and a new found love of yoga.