I Completed Adriene Mishler’s 30 Day Yoga Journey

If any of you have spent any time browsing YouTube for workout videos, you’ve probably come across Yoga With Adriene. With more than 4.5 million subscribers, Adriene’s channel is nothing if not successful; throughout the year she uploads free yoga practice videos suitable for anyone, from beginners to those who’ve been doing yoga for years.

I myself first stumbled upon her videos back in my first year of university, so around two years ago now. I’ll admit – I’ve not been consistent in my practice. University living generally doesn’t come with a lot of floor space, so I’d take my opportunities where I could. This year though, I have just enough floor space for me and my yoga mat to fit in my bedroom, so I thought I’d take advantage.

Adriene’s 30 Day Yoga Journey (not challenge) is something of an annual event; every January she releases a video per day, all aimed towards finding what feels best for you and your body.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m hypermobile – I’ve probably spent about half of my life injured at this point in some way or another, so fitness has always been a bit of an uphill battle. I’ve seen various physiotherapists who have liked to inform me that my hamstrings in particular are very short for someone my height, so that’s fun. So what I’ve always wanted to know was, if I were to follow a regular yoga routine (which, of course, involves a lot of stretching and muscle control), would any of this improve?

Day 1: Discern

The hardest thing about doing anything like this is getting started. Day one happened to take place on the same day I was travelling back to university after Christmas, which involved a lot of luggage, a car, a train, the tube, another train, and a taxi over the course of about six hours. Then came the unpacking, the food shopping, and the general tidying. So it’s safe to say I wasn’t feeling it when, at about half ten at night, I decided to lay out my yoga mat.

The good news? When the 50-minute session was finally over, I felt a great sense of triumph.

Days 2 & 3: Foundation & Observe

I decided I’d try doing the sessions in the morning, before my day had started, and see how that felt. And honestly, it felt good. I struggle with dark winter mornings, but Adriene’s videos are always soothing to the soul. It was nice to wake up, crawl onto the yoga mat, and just gently wake up my body.

Day 4: Feel

When day four rolled around, I thought I’d save it for the evening again – only a 20 minute practice this time, it was a floor session focusing on the shoulders, spine, and – wait for it – the hamstrings. And yep, mine are still very tight! But the session went well, it relaxed my spine somewhat (another thing that’s been very tense lately), and again, I felt better afterwards. Could this be the key to a happier body?

Day 6: Core

Day 6 was a day I coincidentally found out what has been going on with my ribs recently, and it turned out to be inflamed cartilage. But I figured that as Adriene’s yoga practices haven’t made my ribs feel painful at any time, it should be fine to continue. Plus I’d heard that yoga can help with inflammation, which is definitely something my body could do with!

Days 8 & 9: Meditate & Divine

I ended up doing days eight and nine on the same day – day nine. I spent actual day eight in a lot of pain with my ribs, which probably wouldn’t have been too much of an issue as the Meditate session was very gentle, but I felt like I’d be better off with my hot water bottle and working on my deadline. As Adriene says, it’s about finding what feels good.

I woke up feeling much better on day nine, so did day eight’s practice in the morning, and day nine’s in the evening. The day nine practice was definitely more strength-based, but I noticed my heels in downward dog were suddenly a lot closer to the ground (though not quite there yet), and my arms were shaking less on the planks. I even managed all the push ups! Bent knees, but still…

Day 15: Reveal

It’s been a while since I checked in, so I thought the half-way point would be a good place to do so. Today’s practise, ‘reveal’, was a short 17 minute practice in which Adriene remarked that if you keep consistent with yoga, its magic will reveal itself to you. And weirdly enough, I have noticed changes – in the way I hold myself, in the way I move, even in the way I breathe. Every now and again during the day I’ll find myself just taking a few deep breaths, or adjusting my posture to one better for my body. All without conscious effort.

Day 18: Love

In the interests of honesty, I have no idea what happened with this practice – I don’t think it was the practice itself, but my body just was not feeling it. Maybe because I didn’t eat much the day before? Who knows. I struggled through the video just to say I’d done it. But I’m over half-way now, so I’m not giving up.

Day 20: Lead

Two days later and my day eighteen hiccup turned out to be just that – a hiccup. Today’s practice came with the pleasing revelation that I can, for the first time in my life (I’m 21), bend over and touch my toes! Normally, the furthest I get is just past my knees, or maybe somewhere around mid-calf. Not anymore…

Day 30: Liberate

My main thought at this point was something along the lines of “I’ve done it!”. 30 days of yoga, completed in (I’ll be honest) 31 days. That’s not too bad going, right? The final session was unguided, with the option to either follow Adriene or to do your own thing, and it was surprising to me to find that even without her speaking, her guidance still sounded in my head, a friendly voice of support.


So what did I think overall?

Well, the biggest things to note are probably the physical changes in my body. My wrists (previously notoriously weak) are much stronger. My hamstrings are looser. I can touch my toes, and I can do some push ups. My thighs are stronger. I don’t want to blanket state that my balance (also notoriously terrible) is loads better, because that does differ day to day, but I would say there is more control there now.

Mentally, I’d say it’s refreshing. This month hasn’t been hugely stressful anyway, but it has been an enjoyable space to wander off by myself and bring my attention back to the basics. It’s funny, because I let some friends know I was doing the month journey and one of them said “oh, I forget you do yoga.” I agreed – I usually forgot too. But now, we’re in February, and Adriene releases monthly calendars of video suggestions day by day, and I’m planning to continue the practice. Maybe not everyday, though I will if I can.

So is it worth the time? I’d say so.

Celebrating My 21st Birthday!

One week ago, I turned 21! Yes, that does mean my birthday was on the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, which is why I decided to primarily celebrate my birthday the day before.

My parents drove 200 miles to Liverpool from home on the Friday night, and arrived at my uni house early on Saturday morning – with a bunch of stuff I’d left at home in September in tow. This was quite an amusing collection of things – reheatable hand warmers, a new jumper, my waterproof coat, and some other bits and bobs. When I moved into this house 2.5 months ago, I had belongings spread around the country – it took some time to figure out where everything was!

We didn’t linger in the house long; we walked down to Liverpool’s Key Lime Café, where they serve a variety of breakfasts, including American style pancakes alongside more savoury things like Eggs Royale. After a leisurely breakfast there, we headed to Central station and hopped on a train to Chester.

We’d decided to spend the day there rather than in Liverpool, as my parents had never been and I enjoy going. I think it’s almost the perfect city, in my mum’s eyes – plenty of history, interesting architecture, good size, but without the same mania that can surround places like London.

My entire family has a thing about history, I think – we’re all interested in it, and so I knew my parents would enjoy seeing the cathedral. We spent quite a long time in there, actually; I think we spent an entire half an hour trying to find one particular feature by a window… it turned out to be on a different window than the ones we were looking at. But by this point, my dad had a hankering for a coffee, and I was a little hungry, so we went to the cathedral’s café for lunch.

It was at this point, while we were waiting for our food, that my mum decided to reveal what she’d been lugging around all day in her backpack – when I’d enquired what was in it, her answer had been “space”. For some reason, I actually believed her! But, alas, she unpacked a collection of coloured envelopes and presents.

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Photos courtesy of my dad, who a) has a far better camera than I do, and b) was the only one to actually bring said camera with him… I forgot mine. I was also paying absolutely no attention the fact he was taking photos.

Now, in all truth, I hadn’t been expecting this – I knew their stay in Liverpool wasn’t going to be cheap, and I’d already had an intended-21st-birthday-present earlier in the year (awkward timing meant it arrived a little closer to my 20th birthday instead!). Nevertheless, I received a pair of earrings (which I’ve worn every day since), some perfume, chocolate and notebooks from my parents, and some other jewellery and cash from other relatives, which I’m very grateful for.

After lunch, we left the cathedral and had a bit of a lazy wander around the city walls and exploring the city, including a visit into a tea shop (my parents are definitely tea people, I can’t say the same myself) and an old pub with a good few centuries of history behind it.

Soon enough, the sun was starting to set and we went over to Miller and Carter for dinner – and odd thought, considering I’m pescetarian and they’re primarily a steakhouse, but they had a fair menu of non-meat dishes so I had salmon. I’m pretty sure my dad had steak, but I have no clue what mum ordered! Terrible memory, I know. I think I was a bit caught up in conversation to notice.


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The next morning, my parents turned up bright and early at my house again (it was now my actual birthday) and we went straight back to Key Lime Café for breakfast. This café is conveniently positioned opposite Lime Street Station, and thus in close proximity to St George’s Hall, where Liverpool’s Armistice Parade was due to take place. As we ate our breakfast we saw various groups of people in various uniforms getting ready for the parade.

We were careful to leave the café with a good amount of time before the parade was due to start, and managed to find a fairly good place to stand, a little way to the left of the monument pictured above. It was a lovely thing to watch; the crowds filled the area and during the ceremony, poppies were released from the roof of St George’s Hall, and petals were released from the top of the radio tower – the wind was blowing in the right direction so they all fell over the plateau and crowds.

I didn’t capture any of the parade and ceremony on camera; aside from the fact I forgot to bring my camera again, it seemed a bit inappropriate. But I had my poppy on, and my mum grabbed a programme they were handing out beforehand, and she managed to catch a few petals (that woman is amazing), so I do have some souvenirs.

After the ceremony had finished, we waited for the barriers to be moved so we could get closer to the monument (which I have walked past dozens of times and know quite well, but we wanted to see the wreaths). Then it was down to the docks to find some lunch, because the world would have turned upside down if an outing with my family didn’t largely revolve around food!

Sadly, the early afternoon meant it was time for my parents to leave. We got a taxi back to my house (instead of the 30+ minute uphill walk), and then my parents were off on their journey home.

So yeah, that’s what I did for my 21st! I’m never that big on birthday celebrations, and celebrating at uni can be a bit weird when your friends and family are miles away, but it was really nice to spend this time with my parents.

Why I Don’t Care About Numbers at the Gym

For a lot of people, when they work out, it’s about a number: a weight they want to get down to, a weight they want to get up to, a weight they want to lift, a record they want to beat. Me? I have no number. I go to the gym for one reason and one reason only: to keep my body fit and healthy. I’m not looking to impress anybody, and I’m not going for aesthetic reasons.

My body has a history of injury, so I’m really just happy when it’s capable of doing exercise. I have to be aware of what my body’s limits are and just how far it’s safe to push it.

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I started going to the gym regularly two years ago, when I first arrived at university. Through a stroke of luck, that autumn was the time when the tennis elbow I’d been struggling with for the previous five to six years finally eased off. But, in consequence, that had left me with incredibly underdeveloped muscles in that arm (and the surrounding shoulder/chest area) because I couldn’t use it properly for so long. I was pretty weak on the muscle front in total, really.

But for whatever reason, when I moved to university, my body finally started co-operating. I was very tentative when I started going to the gym – when it came to running, I only did short bursts, afraid I would reignite that old injury. When it came to cross-trainers, I could only do short bursts because I didn’t have the strength for it: two minutes on a low setting would tire me out. When it came to weight machines, the absolute lightest setting was difficult for me.

Building up muscle over the last two years has been a slow journey, and I’m in no hurry to rush it. I have definitely seen remarkable improvements – simple as it may seem to some, I could barely lift heavy shopping bags two years ago. Now I do it without blinking an eye. The shape of my arms has changed incredibly; I used to have absolutely no shoulder definition, and very skinny arms. I still have skinny arms, but now the muscle definition is visible. I can go on a cross trainer for a good fifteen minutes on a medium level and continue my workout elsewhere afterwards. I’ve done 5km runs on the treadmill and felt good afterwards, rather than like my foot was splitting open – which used to be my reality.

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About nine months after joining the gym

To other people, who don’t live with my body and who don’t know its history, the numbers surrounding my workouts seem unimpressive. 20kg weights aren’t seen as much. Taking 45 minutes to run 5km is seen as slow. Only being on level two of the cross trainer seems mediocre. But for somebody who would be unable to walk for a day after running 400m, completing a 5km is amazing! For somebody who had to quit playing piano because the strain on their arm was just too painful, to be able to actually lift heavy boxes when moving house is triumphant. I kid you not when I say that even something as simple as plaiting my own hair was a challenge only a few years ago, because I lacked the strength to hold my own arm up for that long.

Even during the last two years I’ve dealt with other injuries – back in February this year, my thumb on my writing hand became so strained I actually lost the ability to handwrite for a while. Thankfully, I’ve mostly regained the ability since then – though I doubt if I’ll ever get back up to my old speed. I’ve also had knee issues, which meant I stopped using the cross trainer for a while so they could recover. But these injuries have been easier to deal with, and I suspect it’s due to that base line of fitness I’ve managed to build.

And that’s why I don’t care about the numbers. Of course I like seeing how fast or far I’ve managed to run, but I’m only looking to build muscle and fitness in the way that’s best for my body.

What about you – do you go to the gym? Do you have a numbers goal? Maybe you’ve got a condition/injury that you’re trying to work through? Let me know.