Forty Days of Yoga: A journey to create a home yoga practice

RYT-200 Hour Certified Yoga Teacher. Erica started practicing yoga daily to bring herself flexibility, strength and balance. She enjoys doing yoga on the mat in the room, in nature and at the sea side. Erica brings yoga from the mat to everyday life and it helps her to be balanced, non judgmental and to learn new things. She likes learning and challenges, and encourages students to challenge themselves, learn new asanas, practice and enjoy every minute of yoga.

by guest author Sara Foley, Smells Good, Feels Good

I said: what about my eyes?
God said: Keep them on the road.
I said: what about my passion?
God said: Keep it burning.
I said: what about my heart?
God said: Tell me what you hold inside it?
I said: pain and sorrow?
He said: …stay with it.
The wound is the place where the Light enters you.

~ Rumi

Sara in her yoga room

Sara in her yoga room

I am one of Kara-Leah’s ‘beta readers’ for her upcoming book Forty Days of Yoga – Breaking Down the Barriers to a Yoga Home Practice.

As with all wonderful happenings, it all came about accidentally. I had only joined The Yoga Lunchbox a few days before I received a newsletter requesting assistance to read through, edit and provide suggestions for a book that Kara-Leah was writing about creating a home yoga practice.

I had only two thoughts: I want a home practice and I can read and edit…Click!

Two days later, I had been selected along with two others; a few weeks later Kara-Leah had sent out the first draft of the manuscript, and I sat down for three mornings in a row reading through it.

From the first paragraph, I was hooked. Kara-Leah has a no-nonsense style that appeals to me;

Do you want a home yoga practice? If you do, make a commitment to yourself, stop making excuses, use these tools I am giving you and go do it!

Paraphrased of course – but very effective. So effective that by the time I had read the last page (a Tuesday), I was determined to start my Forty Days of Yoga straight away! I also wanted to blog through it, and I needed to set up my support network of friends and family, an essential step in the Forty Day program, so I decided to start on the Saturday.

Although I wasn’t officially on the Forty Days yet, I started doing yoga at home all that week.

I spoke to my partner and children about what I was doing, and enlisted help from supportive friends to check in on me. I created a private group on facebook and invited my support crew to join me. I used the group to post links to yoga sequences and to share my daily blog with them, as well as talk about how we were going with our daily yoga experiences. By Saturday I had been doing yoga for five days, but counted the Saturday as Day 1.

You might be interested to know:

  • I am 36 years old with a partner and 2 children, 4 and 8.
  • I work from home as a writer and researcher.
  • I have a 30 year relationship with yoga – I did yoga as a child with my mother who attended a local ashram and taught yoga classes. She in turn did yoga as a child with her mother and grandmother.
  • At the time of reading Forty Days of Yoga, I had no home practice, and it was next to impossible for me to attend classes.

I had some interesting beliefs about yoga before I started my Forty Days:

  • The main reasons I was unable to sustain a home practice was because I lacked discipline and time management skills.
  • I needed to attend a weekly yoga class to ‘anchor’ my home practice and push me to challenge myself; so if I couldn’t attend a class, I couldn’t have an effective home practice.
  • That my children and partner were generally unsupportive, and would make it difficult for me to have a daily yoga practice.

The first week of my Forty Days journey demolished those beliefs one by one. This was disconcerting for me, as I pride myself on doing my ‘work’ and knowing what’s going on inside of me. Once I got over that I was amazed to find that:

  • In fact I am a highly disciplined person, and everything I have achieved in my life has required self-discipline.
  • If I write a list of things that need to be accomplished during the day and put yoga on it, I can use my considerable self-discipline and love of ticking things off to manage my time better.
  • I don’t need to attend a class to have a home yoga practice.
  • My family is and continues to be supportive, respectful and encouraging of my home practice, and my 4 year old daughter comes and practices yoga with me, making her a  fifth generation yoga kid :-) .

Do you want to know the real reason I had been unable to sustain a home practice? I didn’t think I deserved it.

I thought (deep down) that doing something every day that only benefited myself was selfish, and that if I wasn’t being productive (creating/doing something tangible or earning money), then I was being frivolous. I also felt guilty that I was doing things that I loved (like yoga and writing), for fun when other people have to work hard and suffer in their lives.

When I looked back over my yoga history, the only time I had been able to sustain a home practice was when I was pregnant with my children – because I was doing it for them, not me.

These discoveries were on Day 4, and it floored me. I was shocked that I had all of this…stuff going on inside of me. And you know, it really isn’t my stuff; it’s the baggage of my culture – I am not alone in experiencing these feelings.

So I gave myself a pep talk – these are the reasons I do yoga, and this is why I want to have a daily yoga practice:

Discipline – because when I am disciplined, I will achieve much more with my time and energy. I will feel worthy.

Peace – when I am peaceful, I feel more able to cope with life.

Flow – when I am flowing, I feel love and trust in abundance.

Presence – when I am present, I feel alive, alert, calm and wise.

I wonder what kind of culture we live in when the cultivation of discipline, peace, flow and presence is not considered a productive activity?

During the second week of the Forty Days, the things that I were doing in my life that were not bringing me joy and pleasure were thrown into stark relief. I became much more sensitive and fussy about what activities and groups I was choosing to be involved in – and if they were not bringing me joy, pleasure or at least a feeling of satisfied accomplishment, I became quite ruthless in weeding them out. Unsurprisingly, my community did not fall apart because I took a step back :-) .

I have completed my first 40 Days of Yoga journey now, and I am on day 2 of my next journey.

I missed day 38 (New Years Eve) when I was away visiting friends and family; but I do not feel that I have failed. I have succeeded in creating a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual space for a daily yoga practice, and the benefits have been substantial:

  • I am stronger, fitter and more flexible;
  • Every day I have the privilege of spending time cultivating discipline, peace, flow and presence within my life, which in turn benefits not only myself but the people around me;
  • I have access to a ‘toolbox’ for my life. If something in my life is out of balance, I can bring it back into balance using yoga. Very empowering!
  • I have had and am still having a wonderful time deepening my knowledge about yoga and the wonderful variations and pathways I can follow should I choose to. Yoga is a broad school!

I have written a daily journal of my Forty Days of Yoga on my blog, which you may find interesting on your own journey to creating a daily home yoga practice.

Truly, this has been a most transformational experience, and one that has brought me much joy, pleasure, challenges and self-knowledge – my very favourite combination of experiences.

About Sara:

Sara FoleySara Foley is one of the Beta Readers in my forth-coming book Forty Days of Yoga.

She was so motivated and inspired by reading the book, she’s already written about it in this article, Forty Days of Yoga, and she’s started her Forty Day Practice.

Check out her website to follow along as she commits to and completes Forty Days of Yoga.


Do you want a home yoga practice? Sign up now to the Forty Days of Yoga Book Launch List and go in the draw to win one of three copies on the day the book launches. Plus you’ll be the first to know.

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