International Yoga Day and what 30 days of yoga did for me

Today is International Yoga Day

Today is International Yoga Day and what better way to honour this day than to share my 30 day yoga journey! I had only ever done two yoga classes in my life, about 5 years ago, so I thought I would challenge myself to doing 30 days of yoga to see how my body responds. I am a weight training junkie. I loved crossfit and running and everything fast, so you must know this was quite a scary idea! I know for a fact that my hamstrings are naturally tight and that downward dog was going to be my nemesis, but I pushed on, literally.

I had heard great things about Tree Natural in Umhlanga and that they had a great unlimited package for a month. That sold me on this idea and I signed up! What really sold me on the idea was Dr Megan Medina. You know those two yoga classes I had been to all those years before? Well this were taught by Megan and I LOVED THEM! I loved them so much that I had never forgotten her name. I only stopped because I switched gyms.

I went bout 4 days per week, sometimes 5 when I could make it. I was challenged mentally as well as physically. The first night I was zonked! I wanted to go to sleep at 6pm! The same the next day, but after the third day I was already sleeping so much better than I was before. My body was clearly in shock, because it was doing things it had never done before. I found it amazing that I could deadlift 105kg’s but doing something as simple as triangle pose had me shaking uncontrollably.

I learnt so much about myself through this challenge. I don’t think we challenge ourselves enough. I think we like comfort, safety and the familiar. We don’t push the boundaries enough. We don’t respect our bodies enough to know that it’s got us, it can handle us, and it will always trust us. We just have to trust it back.

30 days of yoga taught me:

  • Yoga is hard
  • Yoga is not just about flexibility
  • Yoga can get your heart rate right up
  • Yoga works muscles you didn’t know existed
  • Poses look easy on instagram but are really really hard
  • Yoga works the body and the mind
  • I felt more calm and focussed during the day
  • I didn’t expect to enjoy it so much
  • Your body starts craving the movement
  • Your mind is less cluttered
  • Your body responds quicker than you think
  • You sleep so well
  • You are motivated to push a little deeper each time
  • You learn to love the guided mediation of the teacher
  • You start following yogi accounts on instagram
  • You want to be better
  • Your flexibility improves in one month

 

I must say, all in all I was very happy with my progress! I took some before and after pics to note the slight improvements. I was really happy to move from using blocks or a strap, to not. It really is the small improvements that make a difference!

 

 

International Yoga Day

There are those terrible hamstrings!

International Yoga Day

I was happy with my progress! Megan says rather have a bend in your knees to keep your back straight and not rounded.

 

International Yoga Day

Blocks are so useful and versatile! Start off with them until you are more comfortable in the poses.

International Yoga Day

Slow progress is better than no progress!

 

International Yoga Day

I found that my lower back was also tight, not just my hamstrings. When I first started cobra it was actually painful, but it is so much more comfortable after a month of loosening it up!

International Yoga Day

This really isn’t as easy as it looks! My balance was shocking and my lower back was very tight. I am still getting there slowly but I am way better off now.

 

International Yoga Day

Goddess squat is no joke! Blocks definitely help to keep you more upright at the start.

International Yoga Day

So rounded and bad form to start with. Thanks hamstrings! Megan said to bend the knees to get a flat back and what a difference it made!

 

I am so excited to keep going on this journey and get to where I want to be. I know that will take a long time, but I am really happy with the progress so far.

You can find out more about Tree Natural’s yoga classes here and find them on Facebook here.

 

How did you get into yoga? Do you practice at home or a studio? Are you taking part in International Yoga Day in any way?

 

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World Doula Week

Since it is World Doula week, I thought it was only apt to feature someone who has used a Doula 8 times! Debbie Calo lives in Durban and has had a home birth for each of her children. I have seen her in action at yoga and I never imagined she had 8 children, she is a yoga master and looks incredible!

 

What does healthy mean to you?
For me health begins in your head!  You can eat well, exercise daily and take the best supplements but in the end if you are not happy then none of that matters. Being stressed or negative all the time does not support good health.  Besides that my family and I are vegetarians and we treat anything from the common cold to meningitis homeopathically, and as a result our immune systems are pretty strong!

 

What is your chosen form of exercise?
YOGA!!!  If my mat could talk!  My practice keeps me sane! I started practicing 27 years ago as it is the only exercise other than walking that I would recommend conception and during pregnancy. I also find it very grounding not to mention humbling.

Every pose has a meaning for it either releases what no longer serves a purpose in my life or strengthens me for what is still to come!  For me yoga is not only a physical exercise, you could go to the gym for that, it’s a spiritual, emotional and mental exercise. I always leave the studio with a great feeling of accomplishment.  I practice mainly heated Vinyasa yoga so I get a good detox at the same time! I also try and get to sculpt classes twice a week. Sculpt is a combination of yoga and medium to high intensity workout with weights.  It’s a lot of fun and you feel euphoric after burning up your yoga mat!  I do both yoga and sculpt at Tree Natural.

 

What does your way of healthy eating look like?
We are all vegetarian at home and my children have all been raised as vegetarians.  I have never been one to follow the latest trends in diets, I prefer to go with what I want to eat and I listen to my body. I always make healthy choices its just my way of honoring my body and good health.  My motto is “Eat when you are hungry, eat clean and the more organic the better”.

 

What is your passion project?
Actually my latest passion project is yet to begin!  It will be my yoga teacher training that I will begin early next year. Up until now it has been raising my eight children and I still have a way to go, I think one could definitely call that a ‘passion project!’.

 

What does a typical day look like for you?
Ok so I wake up with the birds which is pretty early! Morning is my best time of day. I love getting as much of it as possible. I go straight into fifth gear with cleaning up after my midnight snackers, packing school lunches, organising breakfasts, feeding the dog and then before waking up the troops I do a 20 minute mini workout in our gym at home, nothing hectic just a warm up for my day with some rowing, yoga stretches and a little dumbbell work.

Then it’s getting kids ready for school and doing the school drops. I walk my Rotti every morning on the beach, this is when I finally breath out! After that it’s a quick walk on the promenade (you can’t live in Umhlanga and not walk on the promenade at some point in your day!) then it’s my morning Yoga practice at 9am.  Tree is my little sanctuary, it’s my ‘happy place’. After class I get to sit with friends and get my caffeine fix.  By now I so have my ‘bliss’ on even the taxi drivers can’t get me going! Only now its back to the real world and the reality of having eight kids. To be fair though, one is in California and one is studying law at UCT so I only have six at home.  Next it’s the grocery shopping, then the school pick ups and sport spectating, homework and then a lot of kitchen time preparing dinner.

 

What would you like people to know about you?
That just because I have had eight kids I do not profess to ‘know it all’. I am open minded and believe that no matter how old you are or how much ground you have covered in life there is always something you can learn from everyone you meet. I have been practicing yoga for 27 years but still I have so much to learn. Life is a journey and we can learn from a 5 year old just as we can from a 50 year old. It’s about being humble and always, always keeping the ego at bay.  I chose to have my babies at home, not because I’m superwoman or have an above average threshold for pain, just because it felt ‘right’. I never put it out there simply because there was and still is such a stigma towards home birthing. I was considered primal and was  cast out of the pack so to speak. Sadly women have never been educated or encouraged to trust their own bodies. If there was one thing I could be given the chance to do, it would be to endorse having your baby at home, the greatest gift you can give your child.  That and beginning your childs education at home. I home schooled my kids during their formative years and it really payed off. As a result they all have a love for learning because they were gently and lovingly eased into schooling, they have a positive outlook to education.

So what do I want people to know about me?  I believe in being authentic to myself. I never wanted to talk the talk, I needed to walk the walk and lead by example. Anyone can talk about it, you gotta do it! My children are the ‘fruits of my labour’. I certainly don’t know it all, but my message to all you beautiful ladies out there is ‘Trust your bodies, trust your instincts, turn up the volume of that little voice within you and drown out the fear!


Favourite workout song?

Anything by Sia

 

Favourite quote/advice?
When thinking about life, remember this: no amount of guilt can change the past and no amount of anxiety can change the future.
Favourite quote: well I have a few so I had to narrow them down and just couldn’t stop at one!
“Healing doesn’t mean the damage never existed, it means the damage no longer controls our lives.”
“Face your past without regret, handle your present with confidence, prepare for the future without fear, keep faith, drop the fear.  Don’t believe your doubts and never doubt your beliefs.  Life is wonderful if you know how to live it!”

 

What was your experience with your doula?
I had a doula all eight times. The benefit of having a doula is that although you have the intimacy of your partner along with the expertise of the midwife, a doula brings about a calmness, she chases away your fears and empowers you with her words. My doulas were very gentle souls there was no judgement, no pressure, just reassurance that I could do this. I was perfectly able to bring this child into the world, I was designed for this, I was given the strength to do this and very soon I would be holding my beautiful baby in my arms. To me doulas are sent from heaven along with all the midwives that do home births. They should all be honored for the work that they do and the big hearts that they have.

 

 

Doula

Doula

Doula

 

Doula

Doula

Doula

Debbie today!

 

Have you used a doula?

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