In the changing room at Tacky Maxx last night, I got a reality check in the three full length mirrors that surrounded my underwear clad body: I don’t like how my body looks right now, and that’s a gross understatement. I knew that I’ve gained 10 pounds over the last few months, but had conveniently been avoiding the reality of looking at it. I’ve never been one to check my weight often, just now and then out of sheer curiosity and I don’t much care what the number is, but I do care how I feel about myself and, quite frankly, how I look.

I don’t mean how I look as in wearing makeup, following fashion trends or curling my hair (as I do none of those things haha) but in that I value my health and believe in taking care of my body above all other things, besides taking care of my mind and my spirit. But now that I say it, I actually would value them all as equal parts of a triangle – putting too much focus on one or two over the others isn’t full health, it’s be unbalanced, and I think that’s what I’ve been doing the last few months, putting more emphasis on my spiritual practice and not enough on my physical practice.

Some Background

I’ve been studying yoga for over 3 years now. Once I discovered how great I felt doing it – how calm I was, how flexible I could become, how great it made me feel about myself – I’ve never be able to leave it completely out of my life, although I have gone through periods of weeks or even months without practicing once. Most recently, I’ve gotten a bit lazy and had started to rely heavily on yin and restorative yoga as my main practice. (They are amazing styles to utilize but aren’t exactly going to produce the tight tummy and muscular leanness that I’m looking for.) This worked well enough over the summer because I was doing difficult manual labor on a farm and also involved in a 10 week intense body weight training regime with my husband–but I still found myself pining for the body and mental focus I had two years ago when yoga was my main squeeze for physical exertion.

Eventually though then the 10 week program was over, we traveled around for a month, and ultimately moved back to England in early November, all of which was enough of an excuse for me to not do much of anything besides the odd restorative practice a few times a week. Hopping on the scale a few weeks ago to those lovely new digits, I decided that if I could just “work out” (do leg raises, planks, squats, etc.) and stretch for ten minutes a day each, then all this excess fat would just melt away and I wouldn’t have to dedicate so much time to getting the results I was after.

All of this is the backstory leading to the epiphany I had during the full moon a few days ago, which is that I really don’t like working out but I really do like yoga. If only I could just do yoga again to get fit…duh! And thus the 54 + 54 Yoga Challenge was conceived.

The Concept

At first, I thought I’d wait until my birthday and the holidays were past, but then I thought, WAKE UP TESSA! There is no time besides RIGHT NOW. What better gift could I give myself a few days before I turn 29 than a commitment to becoming closer to who I want to be by taking responsibility for this body– MY body– and for the choices I make of how I spend my precious time in this existence?

I can’t think of anything better.

A Disclaimer

I know that using yoga to get physically fit is a bit controversial and I want to emphasize that that is only part of where I am coming from. I sit in meditation every day. For many months, I felt that slower, more relaxed classes brought me into a more meditative state, but I now realize that it’s not the case. Connecting breath with movement and practicing physically demanding asanas is actually more meditative because for me it demands more mental focus than, say, lying in a spinal twist does. On top of that, I am very keen to push myself by building strength enough to attempt some inversions and arm balances that have eluded me in the past. (I’d say the most “advanced” pose I can do right now is a head stand.) I’m not looking to stroke my ego and start yogagramming or anything like that, I simply know from past experience that it will do wonders for my self confidence to achieve something difficult and will keep my stoke-levels high, thus helping me stay committed to this challenge.

My Intentions:

  1. To practice 54 minutes of yoga a day for 54 consecutive days (54 + 54 = 108, a divine number.. more on that later)
  2. To use those 54 minutes in a way that strengthens and challenges me both physically and mentally
  3. To journal about this experience daily, thus keeping myself accountable while documenting my progress and hopefully inspiring others
  4. To practice straight away in the morning whenever possible, because I’ve realized that that is the easiest, most reliable time for me to practice
  5. To be kind, loving, and compassionate towards myself while putting every ounce of effort I possibly can towards these goals

Right. Well, now it’s time to start! I’m feeling a bit scared of failure already if I’m being honest, but I also have a quiet, intense determination to make this change and to make it count. I know I can do this, now I just need to do it.

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