Get Healthy/ Fitness Diaries
Kristin Booker • September 2, 2015

Fitness Diaries: My Exhale 30-Day Yoga Challenge

Yesterday was the first of September. It means that fall is coming, and with it the end of summer.

This summer was particularly amazing for me. At the beginning, I made a determination to LIVE this summer. I put myself ahead of my work for the first time. I traveled extensively from July through August. I moved apartments the minute I got home from the Caribbean. I’m currently sitting in a new place in life, literally and figuratively. I don’t know how to describe the power of having willed myself into a new space and time in my own personal history. I saw this in my mind, and I made it so.

It made me think, “Wow, what else can I do?”

Fear. I can conquer fear.

It sounds incredibly crazy for me to say that I’m afraid of yoga, but I stand before you with some real fears. If you’ve followed my writing for a while, you know that I’ve been working on a rather intense weight loss program for the past four years. That sounds really long, doesn’t it? It is, but I’ll get into that in a minute. Let’s just say that having yoga has always been part of this journey. The peace of mind, the mental space, the physical challenges of using your own body and mind to move yourself to another plane of consciousness is part of my life. It’s baked into my mettle, it’s part of who I am. I’ve walked into yoga classes all over the country for a moment to sweat and transcend my problems, and it’s been my experience that no matter what’s bothering me, I can walk onto a mat anywhere and see it dissolve in a pool of sweat.

November 2014 changed all of that for me. I hurt myself in class. I injured my back, actually slipped two discs. The injury was a combination of accumulative damage of going super hard in workouts paired with a birth defect (my grandmother and father have the degenerative disc issue.) Suddenly, I couldn’t relax. I couldn’t turn my mind off. No amount of sinking into a posture would allow me to just be present and move. The fear of hurting myself again scared me so badly I walked away from the mat and didn’t come back for a while. I tried other things. I got strong. I healed my body. My back is about 85% of what it used to be. I’ll be fine. But the yoga practice in my blood is calling.

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Also, that fear? That lack of trust of my physical being along with the fear of injury? It’s very real.

Which is why I decided to do a 30-day yoga challenge, and I’m doing it with my beloved exhale mind body spa. They were more than happy to take me up on it.

I was at a breakfast yesterday when I announced it to a few fellow beauty editors, and the questions came about weight loss and how skinny I would be at the end. Not only do I not think that’s going to be the case, but that’s not why I’m doing it. I’m creating this challenge to force myself to face that fear every single day for a whole month. I have to go to a mat every day and stare down that fear of injury, or it will stay locked in my mind forever. I love yoga too much to let that happen, and, more important, I love myself too much to live in fear of something that’s really good for me. And so, I will be there every day in class. Some classes will be advanced and challenging, some will be vinyasa flow, some will be relaxation and alignment. But what I am hoping to do is unlock the place in my mind where this fear of injury lives, and then shake it until it falls right out on that mat. Because somewhere behind it is another fear of which I’m hoping to rid myself: that fear that I don’t deserve to have what I want.

I know that fear is in there. It’s the reason I lose 10 lbs. and wind up eating like crap until it’s back. This happens over and over and over again. That starts the cycle of self-defeating conversations where I struggle with trying to work out harder while telling myself that I’m not working out hard enough, which ends in a spiral of me alternately screaming with delight on the scale one month and crying on the bathroom floor the next.

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This is no way to live. So, I’m going in there to find that fear, that doubt, that negative voice that has plagued me for years, and I going to lovingly but firmly escort it out of my life and make sure it never comes back. I believe my yoga mat is where all this can happen, and so I will go there every day until it does.

I wish to be at peace in the body I live in. I love myself right here, right now, and I’m finally on my own side. I’m excited to report back on my discoveries, and to share this journey with you. If you follow me on social media, I’ll have some photos and check-ins going on every day, so feel free to follow along, cheer, leave comments, and/or join me. If anyone is in New York and wants to come for a class, I would love to have you. But, in the end, I know this is a journey for myself that I have to inevitably do by myself, and I’m excited to see how it ends.

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Today is Day Two. Namaste, and wish me luck!

Photos taken at exhale mind body spa on Madison Avenue in New York City by my awesome yoga instructor, Lauren Harris, who is PSYCHED I am doing this.


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