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Up For a Challenge

The experts say it takes 21 days to form a new habit, and I’ve seen a variety of 21-day challenges recently. Everything from photos to fitness, to mindfulness to weight loss. It made me wonder how many people actually make it a habit, and continue to learn new things and push themselves further, and how many just make it to Day 21, and say, “yay, I did it” and then stop. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am always up for a challenge, but there was only one way to find out which category I fit into, which was to try it.

I got ‘liked’ and ‘followed’ and ‘comments’ from people all over the world! Who knew there was so much inspiration, encouragement, support and friendship in my little handheld light box?!

However, when I considered joining a 21-day yoga challenge on Instagram, it had already started, and as a true beginner, I didn’t want to try to play catch up, or just skip those few days. I also didn’t want to compete with anyone but myself. So I took the idea and twisted it and shaped it into my own brand of a self-challenge, which turned out to have many added perks. Here are a few of the unexpected rewards and extra benefits I gained from what I call my “28-day Doga Yoga” series.

1. It takes a full 4-weeks.
Since yoga are the physical, mental and spiritual practices that aim to balance and transform the body and mind, I think most women could appreciate the need to see it through one complete monthly cycle (at least). By practicing and posting for 28 days, I was able to discern the differences in my appearance, ability and attitude on any given day. It was valuable information that I could apply to other parts of my life (and make any necessary adjustments or modifications).

2. How to multi-train.
yoga20-seated half moon poseNot only did I train my body to stretch and my mind to focus, but also I trained my dog in the very same ways. For Netsuke, my Pomeranian puppy, it wasn’t so much spiritual, but more about her timing and response to my movements and commands. It was a special time each day for us to be active and engage in creative training together. Hey, they don’t call it “upward facing dog” for nothing.

3. Technological advancements
The poses didn’t have any technology to them, but the daily photos and the editing, decorating, sharing, and posting of them certainly did! I mean, did you know that you can change the color of your yogawear, and smooth out freckles and other skin blemishes using Lightroom (my photo editing software)? Also, a little app called Instacollage has a gallery of more than 60 frames, the full spectrum of colors and 20 different fonts for text! Plus, you can publish directly from Instacollage to all the major social networks, which made for some amazing and immediate content. And hashtags? Oh yeah — exploring, creating and using hashtags had a profound effect on the exposure and accountability of my self-challenge! In fact, they are the reason for ‘benefit #4’ below.

4. A world of LMOs.
Once I got the hang of hashtags, I got ‘liked’ and ‘followed’ and ‘comments’ from people all over the world! Who knew there was so much inspiration, encouragement, support and friendship in my little handheld light box?! My LMOs (like minded others) now include sweet, spirited yogis from various places in the U.S., South Korea, Europe, and even here in Japan. In the beginning, I had to search the internet for images of yoga poses for my self-challenge. Now, all I have to do is tap the IG icon on my phone and my LMOs show me the moves, still my mind, and feed my spirit!

So, yeah, I’m always up for a ‘challenge’. Maybe that’s because I know I have the will power to complete a short-term regimen of just about anything. That’s easy. But to form a habit doesn’t require completing a challenge. Rather, it takes deleting parts of ‘challenge’ in order to bring about challenge. From my Doga Yoga experience, I can say, “yay, I did it!”, AND I’m going to keep doing it. That is, I’m going to keep learning new things, pushing myself further and bringing about change in my life! How ’bout you — up for a challenge?

{ 13 comments… add one }

  • Josette August 17, 2014, 10:08 am

    It has been so much fun following your challenge on IG! I’m not sure if you knew this, but you inspired me to hit the mat more often than ever. I didn’t do it everyday, but when I did, I felt great. Yoga is my new self-research project. Who knew your body had so many secrets? I’m just in awe.

    So that brings me to my question. You said that you could “discern the differences in my appearance, ability and attitude on any given day.” I’m really curious about the attitude part. If you’re willing to share your thoughts here, I’d love to know what shifted for you. For me, I noticed myself releasing old tensions: unhealthy story loops. One day, while I was holding a pose for an extended period of time, tears started to flow. The story came out and I must say that it hasn’t been haunting me as much as before. It’s like I found self-forgiveness via yoga. It was a huge relief.

    Thanks for writing and listening K! And thanks for sharing yoga with me!

    • Holly August 18, 2014, 12:04 am

      I have been doing yoga now for more than a decade. However, I have never considered making it into a social / educational venture online. Impressive! Kristina, your approach fascinates me. I am such a private type; I won’t even let my husband take a picture of me yoga-posing these days for safe keeping. But the good thing is that it has become a positive part of each and every day, whether I do it free style or with a DVD. And thanks to yoga, I can actually meditate. Usually that means about 8 to 10 minutes of zoning out in “corpse pose’ after a vigorous vinyasa workout. OK, not a long time, but I’ll take it. It’s a refreshing way to end a session.

      Josette brought up another interesting aspect of yoga, the emotional release. Yoga is a great way to reduce stress, but I can see how it could go deeper than that, unleashing pent up feelings of another sort, those that run deep in a vicious circle and are not easy to pinpoint or confront. I like how you described it, Josette, as “unhealthy story loops”. I had an uncanny experience one time when at a massage training workshop. It was my turn to lie on the table, and at one point I struggled to hold back the tears. I was a bit embarrassed because the sudden outburst wasn’t due to any physical discomfort. Rather, the massage triggered something emotional, something that I had not yet come to terms with and hadn’t put into words. So, yes, I think often it is through the body that we can have all sorts of breakthroughs. Here’s to more flexibility, muscularity, and attitude adjustments! Thanks for sharing and making me think more about the benefits of yoga.

      • Kristina August 18, 2014, 9:27 am

        Dear Holly,
        You have it right! Private or public, the important thing is to make it a daily practice. Take it one step at a time and see where it leads you…like to you getting a meditation session after each workout. I’m hoping a formal class will help me to carve out the space and time I need to try more meditation. You can bet there will be a blog post about that ‘challenge’ too!
        I totally agree with you and Josette regarding the emotional aspect. I think it’s all part of the balance and transformation process. Clearly, the 3 areas are all connected, and I can see how the ‘hands on’ of massage, or the stillness of holding a stretch, or even the rhythm and sound of breathing could unleash any number of mental or emotional issues. I think the best thing we can do is LET IT HAPPEN!
        Yes, here’s to more challenges and changes!

    • Kristina August 18, 2014, 7:56 am

      I am thrilled to hear that you have been inspired to return to your yoga practice! I am looking forward to continuing mine with an official class starting in September. I am hoping the class will further my physical and linguistic learning, provide me with a local support group, and give me the mindful space I need to grow. Basically, these are all things that happened through my online self-challenge, but the differences I discerned were noted because of my ‘dogged’ determination to have an active, creative, productive summer break. So, with each shot and each posting, I examined and compared and noted my observations. By applying all that to a calendar and daily journal entries, so much more than just various postures was revealed.
      With regard to my appearance, I saw my skin and hair go from dry and dull to glowing and shiny. Even my nails are healthier and in better shape than we I started. I saw some serious scowl lines in my face at first, and a stern and clinched jaw, but I watched it soften to slight and sweet smiles. I took so many photos for each posture that I saw my ability to curve and stretch deepen or extend within each daily pose. My attitude shift was much like the story you tell. My body was stiff and tight with (current) tensions. I felt stuck in some personal situations, but as I continued the practice of my Doga Yoga, contorting and bending and opening myself, my attitude became more open to new perspectives, and options that I hadn’t thought of before. Actually, Netsuke helped a lot with my attitude shift too. On many days, we actually practiced ‘laughing yoga’. I mean, how can you NOT laugh when a puppy is licking your face with unconditional love while you struggle to float along the floor in the “fish pose”?

      Thank YOU for sharing your yoga story with me and the other readers. It’s powerful, personal and positively inspirational!

  • Michelle August 17, 2014, 1:42 pm

    Wonderful read! Like Josette above you have inspired me to get my mat out of storage. And there will be future Legogirl posts completely inspired by your yoga doga series.
    I also concur with your #4 benefit! I’m amazed everyday with the comments and likes received from so many different countries ’round the world that (yes I can not deny boost my ego) fuel the sense of community of LMOs!!! It’s truly a small world!
    Here’s to challenges that create change! Now off to the mat, then to seeking the next great photo op!

    • Kristina August 18, 2014, 8:00 am

      Hi Michelle,
      Thanks so much for reading! I will certainly look forward to following your Legogirl Yoga adventures…as will all of your many followers on IG and elsewhere. Cheers to LMOs, and all that they bring out in each of us! Let’s Yoga-GO!

  • Sonya August 17, 2014, 6:31 pm

    Oh, Kristina! How I loved this post – and so glad I subscribe to your newsletter so I could see the Instagram pics. WOW! Looks like you are a great yogini!!
    I really appreciated you talking about the 28 days… I always found there were about 3-4 days in the month when I just couldn’t do Kundalini. So I meditated instead!
    Also love the part about Netsuke. My cats, especially Bongo and Puma are all over me when I do asanas. They kind of “ride” me and perch on my chest if it’s at all possible. Some of the best times we spend together are on the mat.
    Thanks again, Sat Nam, and Namasté!

    • Kristina August 18, 2014, 9:46 am

      Hello Sonya,
      Thanks so much for your comments. As always, they are full of warmth, love and support! The response to this post has been amazing! You might even say it’s been a bit overwhelming actually (but in a good way). Honestly, at several points of writing it, I almost chucked it. It wasn’t really coming out the way I had felt it happening. I thought it might be too mundane — too obvious. I’m glad I stuck with it and posted it, because it gives even more chance to say more about how the whole thing changed me, and how such a small change in one person can inspire or touch others!
      I’m so glad you mentioned replacing your non-physical days with some mental or spiritual practice. That’s the kind of balance I hope to achieve as I continue my journey into the essence of yoga! Maybe I will try balancing Netsuke, too…on my chest, my feet, my back, my hands… 🙂
      Blessing to you, my dear Ad Sach Kaur.
      Sat Nam Wahe Guru!

  • Tim Binkley August 17, 2014, 7:27 pm

    Congratulations! Kristina! You are always such an inspiration and this post was especially meaningful to me since I need to get into a yoga habit and not just do it here & there. I used to do my yoga routine every morning for 25 years, but once out of the habit it can be hard to get back in, especially when the aging body gets more creaks and squeaks. Thankyou!
    Keep sending us your positive energy!

    • Kristina August 18, 2014, 9:52 am

      Hi Tim,
      Thanks so much for reading, and your kind words regarding this post. It means so much to me! I can imagine it might be hard to get back in the “habit” (of anything), but that’s where the self-challenge can be so helpful. From my limited knowledge of yoga, it seems there are all different kinds that may appeal to all different body types. I’m sure there’s something out there that will suit your physical needs and abilities, as well as fill your senses with all the extra wonders the practice affords. YOGO FOR IT! We’ll all be cheering you on!

  • Sabrina August 18, 2014, 3:37 am

    All I have to add is Wow! My spouse and I are currently getting ready to em”bark” on a yoga journey of our own. The only hold up is we have opposite schedules and would like to enjoy it together. I can see that we will be “stretching the bonds of friendship” to include all of you! Here’s to joining all you “posers!”

    • Kristina August 18, 2014, 10:04 am

      Hey Sabrina!
      Thanks a million for your constant readership and never-ending support! Yes, couples yoga would be awesome! Maybe you could start by making it a private project between the two of you, where one of you practices a pose, takes the picture and pastes it in a binder or journal, and leaves that on the mat for the other to use as inspiration or guidance or a ‘challenge’. Or you could just send the photo with a quick text message for the other person to store on her phone. Then, trade off the next day. Sort of like a tag team approach. At the end of the month, you can look through the journal (a keepsake) or the phones together and share your feelings and thoughts about how/if you want to continue. OH, or you could make it a true household experience and get your menagerie (I mean, your furry family) involved, too! 🙂 Whatever you do, I hope it’s as fulfilling and rewarding as my first venture was! Time to strike a pose!!

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