Completing the Yoga with Adriene 30 Day Yoga Journey
Something that I, along with people around the world, did during January 2021 is the latest Yoga with Adriene 30 Day Yoga Journey – Breath.
Who is Yoga with Adriene and what is a 30 day yoga journey?
If you have an interest in wellbeing, then hopefully you have heard of Yoga with Adriene before. If you are new to the world of wellbeing though, Adriene is one of the best yoga instructors on YouTube. She creates fun and accessible practices that you can do at home. She comes across really well on screen and presents everything so naturally. I think that’s why Adriene has attracted so many people to her channel. Plus there’s Benji the dog and the times where she randomly bursts into song.
The 30 day yoga journeys started on Adriene’s channel at least 6 years ago now. Based 2021’s Breath, the intention is to help you to start a daily yoga practice and show up for yourself. They serve as a beginning to a longer journey, rather than a one off challenge.
Each daily practice in the series focuses on a particular topic that links to the overarching theme. As you move through the days, you develop your learning and discover new poses and flows.
On the final day, Adriene doesn’t talk you through a tutorial. She practices with you. You let your experience from the past month guide you through a practice which feels good for you. It signals the beginning of the next phase of your yoga journey.
Why the Breath journey?
2021’s Breath is my first completed 30 day journey. It is the first time I consistently practised yoga on a daily basis.
I previously tried the 2020 Home series in March 2020, but had to stop after day 17 when my Crohn’s caused issues. After that, I still did more gentle yoga routines, mainly focused on digestion and gut health for my IBD. I did a couple of practices a week, but by the winter of 2020, the regular yoga really became non-existent.
At the start of 2020, my Crohn’s was in a bad place, I had lost weight and muscle mass from flare ups. I didn’t have the strength or energy to be introducing 30 days of yoga into my life at the time.
Given that Adriene’s signature approach is all about finding what feels good and not doing anything which doesn’t serve you, the 2020 journey simple wasn’t the right time to begin a proper yoga journey and that was ok.
Listening to your body and mind are the most important things.
Come 2021, and my weight is currently much better, I’m on medication, and I feel stronger in myself.
What with lockdown, the limited chance to go out and exercise, and the impact of the current world situation on my mental health, 2021 felt like the right time to truly establish my yoga journey.
The theme, Breath, also felt relevant to the present, and taking the time to focus on your breath is something that I knew I wanted to do more of, for both my mental and physical health.
Pause for a moment – let’s talk about yoga and chronic illness
Before we get into the things noticed during the journey, I wanted to take a moment to mention yoga and chronic illness.
The origins of yoga revolve around it being a union between the mind and body. The connection between the breath, physical movement, and mental focus during practice is designed to improve your wellbeing as a whole (watch this great Ted-Ed video for an insight into the origins of yoga and how it works). As you will find out if you continue to read, I do believe yoga provides many benefits.
With chronic illness, the clue is in the name. Chronic. Conditions such as Crohn’s, which I live with, currently don’t have a cure. There are ways to treat the conditions and studies show that yoga could potentially sometimes aid symptom management (notice the potentially sometimes). As far as research goes though, there is no concrete evidence to show that yoga can cure chronic illness.
I did not get into yoga because I believed it was going to cure my Crohn’s. It was a decision made from a general wellbeing perspective.
What I noticed during my 30 day journey.
As part of my yoga journey, I recorded my thoughts on each practice during my daily journaling session, and how I felt as the days went by.
Coming from someone who is not flexible, who experiences fluctuating energy levels, and had a non-existent core thanks to IBD taking it out on my body, one thing became apparent from this journey.
I have started to see an improvement in these areas a month on from beginning daily yoga.
Flexibility has definitely seen an improvement. I’ve always struggled with my legs in particular and could never touch my toes without bending my knees or even sit with my legs out straight because it actually hurt.
Moving through the 30 days though, I noticed subtle changes. I don’t have bend my knees as much to do a forward fold. I can straighten my legs more easily in the downward dog pose. Sitting with my legs out straight feels a bit easier.
These changes really are gradual, but there has definitely been an improvement on the flexibility front.
Core strength and balance
I think this is the area that has seen the biggest change. At the start, my core was not strong at all and my balance was all over the place!
Over time though, I have developed more awareness around how you use your core. I’ve started to understand what Adriene means when she says to align your centre and move from your core. I’ve developed a better sense of what feeling grounded means and the connect between the earth and every part of your body.
My balance is improving and my connection to my centre is better developed.
Energy levels, sleep, and mood
Although my energy levels still fluctuate and fatigue at times is very much a part of my chronic illness, I would say my energy levels have been more consistent.
I think my sleep quality has got better too. If anything, I would say I am sleeping for slightly less time, but the quality of the sleep is far deeper and feels more nourishing. When I wake up, I have not had to drag myself out of bed, but rather it feels more natural to wake up and get up, I’ve also started to wake up and look forward to my yoga practice. Having the 30 day journey and Adriene as your cheerleader acts as a form of accountability to show up for yourself on the mat.
All of these positive changes combined have acted as a mood booster in itself, and the daily practice now serves as a daily dose of positivity, and I am grateful for the fact that I am in a position to be able to do yoga now, which was not the case this time last year.
Finding stillness and remembering to breathe
While the flows and movement is a part of yoga, so is the meditative side. An important aspect of yoga is about finding stillness, a sense of calm, and focusing on your breathing.
The moments in the 30 day journey that felt most powerful to me were the meditation, breathing-orientated session. The moments where all you do is focus on the breath and nothing else. The sense of calm and being still that came with these was incredible, and I have found my focus in other aspects of life such as working or even simply reading a book is better.
The reminder to pause and give time to yourself each day is really freeing.
If you’ve done a Yoga with Adriene’s 30 day yoga journey before, how did you find it?
And if you are looking to get started, here’s the introduction to Breath. To finish off how the Yoga with Adriene videos do, namaste.