And so it comes to an end.
When I started #30×30, I accepted that it would be a challenge. I expected there would be triumphs and some frustrations in learning poses. I assumed that the hardest part would be fitting it into my day, during what would turn out to be one of the craziest months in my personal, professional, and academic career. But when I stepped on the mat on Day 1, I had no idea how much the daily practice of yoga would utterly transform me, both inside and out. A few weeks ago, a friend shared a meme that said “One of the greatest moments in life is realizing that two weeks ago, your body couldn’t do what it just did.” After this challenge, I would amend that meme to say “your body and soul couldn’t do what they just did.” Friends and family ask how I feel now. Stronger, certainly. More steady on and off the mat. Grounded. And calm.
I suppose this is the feeling my mother was referring to when she told me as a kid that I would know that I loved something when the process of daily practice became that part of my day that I would consistently look forward to. Routines have never been my strong suit, and over the years, attempts at regular practice of the flavor of the month–trombone, dancing, singing, piano (the list is embarrassingly long)–felt forced. But not this month. Coming to my mat, letting go, cultivating my ujjayi breathing, going from sun salutations to shavasanas, tweaking even the most basic poses every single day–became at the same time both a source of buoyancy and an essential anchor during a truly chaotic month.
At some point during the nearly two thousand minutes I spent on the mat this month, my practice and my attitude toward yoga changed. I no longer looked at it as a means to an end, whereby thirty days later I would look differently or be able to do x pose. Rather, I started to see yoga as a lifelong opportunity to improve myself every single day. With that perspective, I was able to truly enjoy the process of making minor adjustments along the way and to internalize what yoga teachers mean when they say: “This is YOUR practice. Do what feels right to you today.” In the kayak in Montana, being “here” meant soaking up positive energy from my friends and not worrying about the rapids around the bend; on the mat, it came to mean checking in with how I was feeling that day, accepting it, and making the best of it…just as Gilda Radner implies in the quotation that inspired the namesake for this blog.
The start of April marks for me a beginning of a new decade and a new phase in life. Yesterday, in addition to wrapping up the month-long #30×30 challenge, I also put the finishing touches on a project that has profoundly shaped my professional career for the past four years. Like my yoga challenge, I had no idea when I answered a call back in December 2009 how much of leap I was making, nor how much of an effect it would have on my work. Wrapping up both the project and the yoga challenge together yesterday seems fitting. I have no idea what the next few months will look like for me, but I expect I can apply many of the lessons learned on the mat: accepting endings and beginnings, taking this moment to be fully present and observant, tweaking it to make the best of it for me, exploring new and daunting pathways, and most importantly, being *here*.
And for the record, I did practice this morning too!