My intentions were true, my goal was clear, and I still didn’t complete the 30-day yoga challenge at my yoga studio…or did I? The studio proposed to its yogis to take classes, post an image performing the pose of the day, a positive quote on Instagram, and take a few workshops offered during the month. Each action was associated with points, and whoever had the most points at the end of the month won a free year of yoga.

I went at it earnestly taking classes daily, excited to wake up and see what the post of the day would be and how I would tackle it, snap a photo, post it and get points. Soon I realized there was no way I was going to win the ultimate prize of a free year when I look at the point chart at the studio. People were going to yoga class twice a day! Who has time for that? I decided to approach the challenge differently and more mindfully. It was not about winning but about the experience.

I admit the results were solid, with each class posing mental and physical challenges. Some classes I became angry at the teacher for “suddenly” changing sequence into a super advanced pose, or for being squished between thin, younger, bendy yogis. The competition was not around me but inside my mind. In other classes, my mind and breath flowed together, and I was at peace with each pose. I realized the challenging poses were about surrendering the mind into nothingness. It became a daily inward journey which permeated into my world outside of class. I was able to carry the peaceful vibe into my daily life and approach challenges more calmly.

I remain committed for 20 consecutive days in the physical yoga class, but the mental yogi journey continued. I know the mind is stronger than the body in many cases. On good days, it’s accepting, loving, content with where the physical can go, but on a bad day, the mind battles negativity, body dysmorphia, and sometimes deep anger or sadness.

The Enneagram Class that I took allowed for the collective neurosis of each individual to show up and explore the depths of our personalities. We all obsess, worry and have our unique weirdness in our humanness. It was as if this ancient system knew all of us before we knew ourselves. Each day was jam-packed with a combination of self-exploration and coaching techniques to help others.

While I did not complete the whole 30-day in-studio yoga challenge, I completed a month of mind-expanding, observing, noticing and understanding myself more deeply. It is a continued practice, scratching of the surface, and coming home to my deepest self. The fire within burns in my depths to understand myself, how I show up in the world in every moment and in every situation. To know thyself is to live life fully.

By Shelley Karpaty