Everyone loves a Yoga Fitness challenge!
Challenges are meant to inspire and motivate you to achieve a level of fitness that you have been aspiring to! The 21 DAY TOTAL YOGA CHALLENGE is not just about Fitness but involves working on every aspect of Yoga – Surya Namaskaar, Asana, Pranayam & Meditation!
We’ve chosen 21 Days because 3 weeks is a considerable enough time to see results and look to develop and sustain a new habit; while its also short enough for people to commit to the training program. And it fits perfectly in that by starting on June 1st (a Monday!) we can complete 21 days on June 21st – the U.N. International Day of Yoga! We’ll be celebrating this Yoga Day in a grand way in Bangalore as well as with our fellow- Yoga Teachers all over the world!
The 21 Day Total Yoga Challenge
We’ve created this to challenge you as a complete Yogi – including all the different elements – Surya Namaskaar, Asana, Pranayam & Meditation. Each of these aspects are important in a holistic Yoga program and each one aids progress in the other aspect. Without Surya Namaskaar and Asanas, it’s difficult to have the back strength and will power to sit through Pranayam. Without Pranayam, you won’t have the patience and grace to sit in Meditation. Without Meditation you won’t experience a no-mind state that actually inspires you to return to the yoga mat the next morning!
Yoga Challenge Pt 1: 10 mins of Surya Namaskaar
Surya Namaskaar or Sun Salutation is cardio training in Yoga at a base level. Of course, it’s a much more rich practice – in fact it is a complete exercise in itself – stretching, strengthening and toning all the muscles in the body. It also trains Breathing (like everything in yoga) and thereby Mental discipline. Being able to do Surya Namaskaars gives you a ready 10 minute exercise when you are travelling or cannot go outside to run or cycle. To do this continually for 10 minutes is a great exercise. You can target doing 60 rounds in 10 mins – in other words each asana within a Surya Namaskaar is done for 1 second. Even if you do 40 or fewer (depending on your fitness) rounds that is a great exercise. Some of you will be able to do even 100 rounds in 10 minutes! Learn proper >> Surya Namaskaar poses (with pics) and the right breathing!
Yoga Challenge Pt 2: 20 minutes of Asanas; each pose held for 1 min
Most of you are familiar with the Total Yogi Workout which we created a year ago to help students have a practice that they could do by themselves when travelling. The logic of the Asanas chosen here is similar. All Asanas need to be held for 1 minute each thereby giving you the Strength in the muscle being worked. Breathe slowly through your nose as you hold the poses.
Balance: Veerabhadrasana 3 (on each leg)
Arms: Chaturanga Dandasana (If this is difficult; you can do Santolanasana 30 secs, followed by 30 secs of Chaturanga Dandasana)
Back: Chakrasana (If you can’t do this, then Ushtrasana) (and Pawanmuktasana as a counter-pose) + Shalabhasana (2 times , 30 secs each)
Core: Naukasana + Sampattasana
Sides: Kati Naukasana (on both sides)
Spinal Twist: Ardha Matsyendrasana (on both sides)
Inversions: Sirsasana + Sarvangasana + Halasana (and Matsyasana as a counter-pose)
Relaxation: Shavasana (3 mins)
Yoga Challenge Pt 3: Anulom-Vilom Pranayam for 5 mins
Yoga is incomplete as a practice unless Pranayam is an integral part of it. Anulom-Vilom pranayam is the basic balancing pranayam in Yoga that sets the practitioner up for Meditative experiences. It has a holistic effect on your Health, and also plays a vital role in de-stressing. This is a challenge that will take some doing! The main challenge is that you need to be conscious and aware of each breath – about 10 rounds in 5 mins.
Yoga Challenge Pt 4: Sitting in Dhyaan for 10 mins
Sitting in Meditation is the reason that we train the body in Asana and the mind in Pranayam. In fact the word ‘asana’ means ‘Seat’. Dhyaan or Meditation is quite a broad term and there are many ways to do it. You can choose any that you like – it could be repeating prayers or mantras that you are used to from childhood; or slowly and with awareness counting down breaths from 27 to 0; or visualizing specific images. Whatever you choose you need to practice diligently. These are just techniques – ultimately, they will get you into a Meditative or Zen or No-Mind state; which is the aim of yogic practice!
So, there you have it – the 21 Day Total Yoga Challenge that will leave you feeling stronger, and more at peace with yourself. While its not possible to become a Yogi in 21 Days (how we all wish it was!); it will set in place in you the habits that can help you on your yogic journey of a lifetime!
And on June 21st, you’ll be ready to celebrate with the entire global yoga community; on WORLD YOGA DAY!
– MANISH POLE Yoga Teacher, Writer & Speaker on Wellness, Co-founder of the Total Yoga style and schools.