Wisdom The Secret Gifts of a Yoga Challenge When you commit, magic happens. By Laci Mosier Take the Flow with Intention 10-Day Challenge! Times—they are a’changin. I know I’ve witnessed some fairly big (and difficult) shifts over the last few months. And after a long time of trying to neglect my feelings and the vulnerable parts of myself, a yoga challenge presented me with the opportunity to face my feelings breathe with them, get to know them, sit with them, and move through them—however uncomfortable I knew it might be. During my yoga challenge, I invited all parts of myself to bloom. It was a process of weeding, pruning, watering, and planting new seeds. Here’s what unfurled in my life over the journey: Phase 1 The first couple days were tough and emotional. By the third day I was downright mad, bored, and anxious. As a marathon runner, I was annoyed with how tired I actually felt just doing yoga. I wanted to move at my own pace and I felt frustrated with how confining the poses and flow felt at times. As I moved from Warrior 1 into Warrior 2 and Chaturanga after Chaturanga, I could feel the irritation growing. But somewhere between the poses and in the cracks of my heart, the broken spaces started to fill with gratitude, love, and light. A teacher once told me, “if you’re bored with the poses, feel them deeper.” She instructed me to move through poses like waves in an ocean. When I remembered that, my experience transformed. I became one with the mat and the music and my breath. Weeks could have passed for all I knew—I was flowing with the universe. Phase 2 As I moved into the next phase, some logistical issues began to arise. The biggest challenge for me was physically getting to the mat every day. There were days that work ran long and life got in the way. When I had an unexpected video shoot spring up, I missed several days in a row. At first I felt so guilty about that, until I remembered why I was doing the challenge. The purpose was about softening the hard pats of myself and listening to my soul. If getting to yoga was causing more anxiety than neutralizing it, I had to shift my perspective. Once I released the stress of not being on the mat, and realized yoga could look however I wanted it to, I felt at ease. Over time, I started find micro-yogi moments throughout my day. A beautiful yoga practice can be found in every movement we make, every word we speak, how we treat each other, how we drive home, walk the dog, and even eat. For me, yoga became much bigger than a series of poses on my mat. Phase 3 Aaaand it’s starting to show. My shoulders, traps, abs, and other muscles I didn’t even know I had felt sore. But I found myself reinvigorated every time I stepped onto my mat. The biggest breakthrough came when (after 7 years of practicing), I finally, finally found the courage to try headstand. A neck injury from when I was a kid has made me tremendously sensitive and guarded about that area of my body, and when I finally trusted myself enough to just try it and—to my shock—successfully got up on my own, a well of emotion washed through me. The fears I had been carrying for years were released. After being so afraid of what could happen, I was finally allowing myself to break open and see what happens. My greatest vulnerability became my happiest moment of the day. And I would try and try again to get my headstand in the days to come. Sometimes unsuccessfully, sometimes successfully. But there was no going back. That breakthrough was the momentum and very small, but very worthy, act of courageousness I needed. For me, the yoga challenge fostered a level of accountability, camaraderie, and formality to the process that helped me stay true to my journey. Over the passing days, I found myself growing increasingly patient and content. There are moments where I feel overtaken with joy and light and optimism. And when sadness seeps in from time to time, I no longer automatically shut it off. It matters and I honor it with the attention it deserves. And when I’m ready, I gently practice letting go. While my challenge is over, I still feel an insatiable calling to my mat and my practice. It was like a part of me that had been quietly waiting knew I was finally coming home. And although the details of your experience and reason for doing a challenge may be very different than mine, you will surely unlock a light in your own life that has been waiting for you. — Laci Mosier is a copywriter living and loving in Austin, Texas. She and her one-eyed pirate dog live for exploring and discovering life’s magic. She is most inspired by yoga, running, Kundalini meditation, good books, great jams and even better coffee. Getting lost is where she is most often found. Follow her on the Twittersphere or Instagram.