My 31 Yoga Classes of October

Dr. Cindy Haines Health Guide
  • Today is the first day of my favorite month of the year: October. There's just so much to love about October: School is in full swing (I've always loved school); pumpkin and other harvest flavors abound; weather is still warm while colors are beginning to turn; Halloween parties are coming up—and so is my birthday. What's not to love?


    Another reason to love October, this year in particular, is that my go-to yoga studio has offered up a challenge of 31 yoga classes in the 31 days of October. Yes, this can mean doing a yoga class every day of the month, or it could mean skipping a few days here and there, doubling up on another day to make your numbers. The point is this: An invitation has been offered to integrate more yoga into our busy days and routines. A bar set to entice the competitor within each of us and to challenge us physically, mentally, and spiritually.

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    The last time I did a yoga challenge was nearly two years ago. It was January 2012 when I last attempted 31 days of yoga, to be entered into a pool of "completers" who could win a free month membership. My expectations and goals were pretty simple: I wanted to see if I could do that much yoga and I wanted to win the contest. I also hoped that doing more yoga than usual would give me some breakthrough moment - that I would (or could) become some "zen" version of myself - more laid back and yoga-ish. And I remember thinking by about day 10 that this was a heck of a lot of yoga - and I wasn't feeling so zen about it. Really, I just wanted to finish because I said I would, and I hoped to win the free month (which I did, on both counts).


    Since then, I have continued to do a lot of yoga (not every day, but something close to that) and have even completed a 200 hour teacher training, making me an "official" certified yoga teacher. In my journey I have realized a few things - one of which is that the physical practice of yoga works for me in ways I may not always immediately recognize, but it is working for me all the same. Gradually, like the changing of the seasons, I find bothersome and burdensome habits/thoughts/tendencies of mine and my world to lighten and lessen. While I always hope for effects more like a lion's roar (which sometimes also appear), the effects of yoga, for me, tend to be more like a gentle whisper. And I liken it to the concept of laying a brick road. Eventually, the road will be built but each brick must follow the one before. A constant and steady practice framing the process: It's showing up, doing the work, and showing up again the next day. Eventually, you will make progress.


    As I begin my next challenge, accepting the "31 yoga classes" invitation during my favorite month of October, I find myself reflecting on how different this experience is for me than January 2012…how different I am. And that yoga has a lot to do with that.


    You see, the challenge set before me this month really isn't about the physical practice of daily yoga - the asanas. No; for me, this time around, it's about the challenge of relaxing into the experience of whatever may come for me through the intention of the practice, and the practice itself.


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    I have learned that the physical practice for me was just an entry point to all the other transformative powers yoga offers, if one is open to them. Like the power of connecting to your breath as a tool for greater connection with yourself and the world around you. How breath work can be used to help you navigate the challenges of this world, simply by remembering your breath - there is nothing you need to do at all. It's automatic. You just notice that you are letting it happen. You are relaxing into the natural flow and rhythm of you.


    Yoga also reminds me that I am perfectly imperfect right now. I am enough simply by being me—but that there is also always room to grow and evolve, with a calm mindfulness and a contentedness that has been elusive for me for much of my life.


    I look forward to my 31 days in October, because it is my all-time favorite month of the year, and because 31 yoga classes are a gift to me: An early birthday gift to my past, current, and future self.


    For even more tips on how to get better health and need the health care system less, check out: The New Prescription: How to Get the Best Health Care in a Broken System by Dr. Cynthia D. Haines, M.D. (Dr. Cindy Haines) and Eric Metcalf, M.P.H. This is a book about getting what you really want: better health on your own terms. More medical care doesn’t mean better health. Dr. Haines and Metcalf reveal some of the most egregious problems with a medical system gone awry, opening readers’ eyes to how to better navigate the changes underway. Using solid research, insiders’ insights, and patient anecdotes, they offer cost-effective and potentially life-saving ways to get more out of health care while using less of it.

Published On: October 01, 2013