30 Day Yoga Plan – A quick review
Yoga, everyone has heard of it and it probably conjures up an image of bending into numerous bizarrely named positions. Well, that might be true, but what about the reported health benefits like better posture, increased flexibility and not to mention the supposed mental health benefits? Read on to find out my thoughts after doing a 30 day yoga plan.
Why do Yoga?
The NHS describes Yoga as “an ancient form of exercise that focuses on strength, flexibility and breathing to boost physical and mental well-being”.
It’s old, like about 5,000 years old, and originated in India. It’s been taught all over the world and has many reported health benefits, including:
- Improved flexibility & balance
- Better posture
- Increased muscle strength and tone
- Improved respiration, energy and vitality
- Better cardio and circulatory health
- Improved athletic performance
- Protection from injury
On top of the physical benefits, there are the mental benefits, including:
- Help to manage stress
- Help to focus
- Release tension
Of course, these are just reported health benefits and it will vary greatly amongst people.
Further reading on Yoga:
- NHS – A guide to yoga
- Yoga Journal – 38 Health benefits of Yoga
- American Osteopathic Association – The Benefits of Yoga
What plan to choose
If you have a gym membership, you’ll probably be able to find a class that offers an introduction to Yoga. In my case, I wanted to practice at home so that I can do it in my own time and at my own pace.
Luckily, there are plenty of free online courses on yoga and one of the most popular places to find them is YouTube. If you search for Yoga on YouTube, you’ll probably see plenty of videos from the Yoga with Adriene channel. And there is a good reason for that! They offer complete Yoga practice plans for free and are very informative and beginner-friendly.
After looking through all the playlists on the channel I decided on the Home – A 30 Day Yoga Journey plan. As the name suggests, it contains 30 individual videos that you do over a 30 day period.
With the yoga plan picked out, it was time to get started! I decided on doing Yoga every morning just after I wake up, that way I have no excuse on putting it off.
Thoughts on first session
I had never done yoga before so had no idea what to expect. The first day’s session was a long one at over 40 minutes. I quickly realised that my core is quite weak and my balance and coordination is terrible. Not too mention my flexibility is almost non-existent! However, I did manage to complete the workout though my range of movement was severely limited.
Overall, I actually enjoyed it and the room for improvement is a great motivator! Later in the day, I noticed that I was actually feeling a bit sore, especially around my core.
Review after 30 days
30 days seems to me like a long time, but honestly, it went by pretty quickly. Including a daily yoga session into my day was easy and became second nature after a week or so.
Most days I actually looked forward to it which I never thought I would say! There were of course days where I had to push myself to do it but I was always glad I did after the session.
To keep track of my progress I kept a diary that I would fill in after each session (and throughout the day). Let’s see what’s changed after the 30 days of yoga.
Flexibility & Balance
Starting off I could barely reach my toes when bending over and almost all the poses seemed impossible. However, after about a week I noticed that I was able to complete most of the poses without falling over or losing my balance. I can now even balance on one leg for an extended amount of time! It may seem silly but it’s still a noticeable improvement.
Take Child’s pose for instance, when this pose was first introduced I could barely keep my thighs on the back of my legs but now I can sit/lie comfortably in this form for quite a long time.
I tend to be in front of a computer for around 8 hours a day, most of that time is spent sitting. I’ve noticed over the years that my back starts to ache and I have to readjust myself continually.
I’ve found that by practising yoga I am much more mindful of my posture and have taken steps to ensure that I’m sitting upright with my back against the chair and slouching much less. Hopefully, that will delay myself becoming a hunchback later in life.
Core & Strength
My current workout plan includes yoga followed by a strength workout then occasionally a short jog (like C25K). I’ve found that yoga is great for stretching out the muscles before the main workout and gets me in the right head space for exercising.
Additionally, I never realised how weak my core was before doing Yoga, doing poses like planks and half-moon at first were nigh on impossible. But after a couple of weeks of practice, I can now do them quite well. There is definitely some room for improvement but it’s only been 30 days!
This is the big one! I didn’t think that yoga would do much for the old mental health but something about monitoring your breath and being aware of your body and how everything is connected really does help to clear your mind and focus (collect & organise) your thoughts. There were times after the session that I would lay down in a pose and just enjoy the stillness and calm.
If you have a hectic lifestyle or have trouble concentrating, then I thoroughly recommend giving yoga a go. It won’t be for everyone but there is no harm in trying! All I can say is that my mood was (on average) noticeably better after the workout than before it.
Conclusion & What’s next?
So after 30 days, what’s my conclusion? Well, to tell you the truth I thought it would just be another thing to tick off the list and probably never do it again. However, I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed my 30 days and will be continuing it!
Since the initial 30 day yoga plan finished, I have continued doing Yoga every day for roughly 10-30 minutes. I’m not currently following another 30 day plan, instead, I’m just picking random videos from the giant back catalogue on the Yoga with Adriene YouTube channel.
Result – Give it a go, you might just like it!