I've been going to the same hot yoga studio for a while now, generally 3-4 times per week. I've used yoga largely to supplement running, force myself to stretch because I'm otherwise absolute garbage at doing so despite knowing how good it is for me.
My best mat pal, Ira, convinced me we should both do the studio's 30-day challenge. Meaning: 30 classes of yoga in 30 days. (Let's be real - it wasn't that much convincing. Anyone who knows me knows the competitive streak I have with myself runs deep and I'm hard-pressed to turn down any kind of challenge.)
It's no misnomer - it's absolutely a challenge. I am dehydrated on the reg, my mat never fully dries out, and I do (approximately) 897 loads of laundry a week. I won't lie: it's day 15 right now and I want to quit. My arms are bruised from my less-than-stellar attempts at crow pose, my hamstrings feel like you could pluck them like a guitar string, and multiple ill-advised attempts at a headstand landed me at urgent care with neck spasms. Fitting in at least 60 minutes of yoga per day along with work, improv classes, track repeats, and (thankfully short) long runs has been the challenge in and of itself.
And yet... I can feel myself getting stronger, physically for sure, but also mentally. The deeper I push into a pose, and that "sacred" tremble (as my favorite teacher calls it) happens, I know I'm present and thinking of nothing other than my breath and that shaky muscle. It's been an unusually difficult few weeks at work, and yet when I find myself on my mat each day, I am able to completely shut out that noise. When I'm in the midst of a run, feeling like it's too hard, I do what I've been taught in yoga: come back to my breath. My lungs literally feel superior and my mind is immediately brought back to the present, forcing me to concentrate on breathing in and out rather than on whatever pain is trying to convince me to stop or whatever stress is pulling me out of my own body.
Resilience is a quality I've honed in the last few years. The ability to take a difficult experience and come out better and stronger is quite honestly the only way through, and it's an attribute I'm sharpening every day with this challenge.
And hey, if I finish, I get a free tank top.