30 Days of Yoga with Adriene: The best challenge you'll do during lockdown
If you do one thing this lockdown, do 3o Days of Yoga with Adriene.
I entered into my month-long challenge with trepidation, concern, and the world's worst yoga mat. It cost less than a tenner and acted more like a long towel than a piece of actually decent gym equipment.
I wanted a distraction but I also wanted a routine; something to force me to get out of bed before 8.45am. I wasn't just rolling over, throwing on some leggings, and going to my usual workspace at the kitchen table. I wanted to feel able for the day. I wanted to be awake.
Yoga with Adriene isn't like other YouTube workouts. Having done my fair share of them since the pandemic began, I had grown weary of instructors in full faces of makeup expecting me, a normal human being, to do 200 deep squats followed by a five minute plank without breaking a sweat.
Adriene doesn't expect anything, she just wants you to show up - and she'll thank you for doing so too. According to her, that's the hard part. Once you're on the mat, it's easy.
For the first few days, I struggled. I considered skipping, I lamented waking up earlier, I realised that I had little to no strength in my wrists and I ruminated on that discovery for approximately five days.
But after that first week passed, I found myself enjoying waking up earlier. I was looking forward to seeing what way my body was going to be tested each day. I was excited to drop from warrior 2 right through to cobra. I craved the release of extended child's pose.
Adriene is okay with you not able to touch your toes. She doesn't mind if you want to pause the video for a breather. She fully understands that only a small percentage of people will be able to lift themselves up into crow's pose without crashing into a mangled heap.
There's an understanding that everybody's fitness level is different, a complete lack of judgement that's often absent from workout videos and influencers who want you to ruin yourself and leave you feeling bad about it afterwards.
Despite having millions of viewers, Yoga with Adriene manages to be entirely personal. She's speaking to everyone but she knows exactly when your legs are shaking. She's talking to her whole channel but she somehow knows exactly how far you can go.
On day 30 of the challenge, Adriene takes off her mic and encourages viewers to freestyle. For a full 40 minutes I was without guidance, creating an entire yoga class using the skills and transitions that she had taught me over the past month.
A brief moment of panic was quickly replaced with a self assurance that I was going to be fine. I could navigate an entire session on my own. I knew what my body could do and I knew just how far to push. I remembered the breathe.
I had always believed yoga to be a means of relaxation, a way to switch off, a good stretch of otherwise ignored muscles.
I had never considered it to be a form of strength building, an actual exercise that would leave me in a sweat or with a rush of endorphins that was usually reserved only for a particularly intense spin class or a panicked run for the bus.
I hadn't expected it to be something I would be eager to take with me past the 30 day challenge. And I definitely didn't think it would be something I looked forward to every morning.
And as we ease into 2021, there's a desire to hit the ground running, but maybe there's also a time to breathe.
To take some of the independence nurtured during such an uncertain time, to remember what it feels like to actually enjoy your own company.
And to reserve a half an hour in the morning just for me, extended child's pose, and my extremely shitty mat.