By Amy Bethge
While Erin Motz’s 30-day Yoga Challenge (available for free on YouTube.com at: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLcjgXQkHWH453km2BpJqYHzmkUkkjH5IB) requires only a month-long commitment from its participants, the time-span seemed incredibly daunting to me.
You see, I’m a recent college graduate who had unfortunately fallen into less-than-ideal health habits during my four years at Keene State College. I had been searching for something to kick start a healthy lifestyle again and took a leap of faith onto the mat under the tutelage “bad yogi” http://erinmotz.com/badyogi/ Erin Motz.
While I had attempted yoga several times before, I was far from a “yogi” and struggled to hold even the most basic of yoga poses — such “downward facing dog” — for longer than 20 seconds. But I was willing to try something new and break out the yoga mat that had been collecting dust in the corner of my room.
On the first day of the 30-day Challenge, viewers are greeted by the ever-enthusiastic Erin Motz who briefly introduces the Challenge. Motz then leads participants through various stretches to open up the hips and strengthen the lower back. The first day starts off slowly as participants are guided into the practice of yoga. The first day’s poses consist of strengthening and flexibility exercises that even the most out-of-shape individual can complete.
In the days that follow, the Challenge becomes increasingly more difficult as participants are encouraged to break down their mental and physical walls and fold and stretch their bodies into poses they never could have imagined they could do.
Yoga for the body …and mind
Now let me backtrack for a second: I’m a realist. I am one of those people who could be heard audibly guffawing at anyone preaching the “mind enhancing” benefits of a yoga practice.
But after just 10 days of Motz’s Yoga Challenge I could not only feel my body changing — as my prior arm flab started to become solid and my heels reached the floor in “downward facing dog,” — but I could feel my perspective changing as well.
I started to eat healthier and I felt calmer. Previously stressful aspects of daily life — such as tasks at work or drivers cutting me off on the road — seemed less important. Whenever I would get angry or upset I would remember to focus on my breathing and on living in the moment.
I became happier, more positive and even more confident as I continued the Challenge and was able to bend myself into poses I never before thought imaginable. On day 30 I performed a leaning headstand (thank you very much), a pose I had thought impossible for my six-foot statue.
Benefits beyond the mat
The changes have lasted beyond the 30 days: I still do yoga every day and eat only foods that I know will help me to maintain a healthy lifestyle (most of the time!). I can say with certainty that Erin Motz’s 30-Day Yoga Challenge changed my life for the better.
Motz’s “bad yogi” approach promotes the widespread practice of yoga and maintains that it is not necessary to portray the incredibly fit and flexible persona often advertised in the yoga world. Motz shows viewers that anyone anywhere can do yoga. It just takes commitment to show up on the mat every day, or even just a few times a week.
Things to Remember When Completing the 30-Day Yoga Challenge:
- DO NOT get discouraged as the poses become more difficult. Motz always offers alternative options to difficult poses so that viewers of all fitness levels can still follow along.
- DO NOT lose heart if you cannot complete the Challenge in 30 days. The fact that you even attempted this challenge is a testament to your commitment to improving your lifestyle … you should be proud of that fact alone.
- DO feel free to break out some red wine (if you are of age) on day 30 of the challenge, as Motz brings a glass to the final session to toast viewers on their commitment to healthy living.
- DO allow yourself to feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the 30 days — you’ve earned it!