Postcard from #YogaCamp

I went to camp in January. I went to camp on a blue mat in our little Hungarian kitchen. I went to camp all by myself and with thousands of others. And when it finished this week, I felt so good and strong that I didn’t want Yoga Camp to end.

Yoga Camp with Adriene postcard
Artwork by Roman Lucio Martinez

Yoga Camp is the brain-child of Adriene Mishler of Yoga with Adriene (YWA). I started following YWA when my wonky work-bus schedule kept me from my favourite classes at Shanti Yoga in Edmonton. My brilliant teacher (Hi Amanda! Thank you!) recommended finding a yoga video I enjoyed to keep my practice going at home when winter roads kept me away from the studio. There are a LOT of yoga videos out there. You can type any combination of descriptors into Google or Youtube and find your perfect practice. “45 minute strength yoga workout” and “20 minute morning yoga” will provide you with dozens of options, not to mention what your local library has on offer. For me, I sifted through endless online videos and “Top 10” lists until I finally stumbled upon a bright, calm and quirky Texan yoga teacher who encouraged me to “find what feels good.”

You may have seen her pop up on your social media feed because her Youtube channel is hugely popular. She provides clear instructions for engaging practices that focus on what your own body needs, rather than pushing for that perfect posture. Plus, her banter is brilliant. As a teacher, she comes through the wide web by being a relatable human being (she notes this often by saying “human moment”) who feels like a friend coaching you on mixed with great (or corny?) jokes and references to everything from Titanic to Wu-tang.

Yoga Camp at HomeOne of my New Year’s resolutions was to be consistently physically active. When the Yoga Camp video popped up in my feed, it was a perfect fit to get my 2016 started. Each day for 30 days, a new encouraging email arrived with a practice and an affirmation. For free! The practices ranged from 20 to 60 minutes filled with great poses, heat, healing and tonnes of variations.

View from my mat
View from my mat

The physical practices were engaging. I have been doing yoga here and there for years (starting from Mom and Dad’s 1970’s B&W instructional yoga book when I was a kiddo). This was the first time I made a dedicated daily practice. I was surprised in the ways I was flexible and inflexible. I feel stronger and more balanced and I actually have abdominal muscles (what?!). My heels still don’t touch the ground in downward facing dog. I was hoping after 30 days I’d be there! But better yet, after Yoga Camp, I’m not discouraged by that fact, but encouraged to keep practicing. And during a month when the winter blahs can take over, it was great to achieve at least one, positive thing (almost) every day. Adriene would often say at the beginning “Great job, the hardest part is done. You’ve made it to the mat” and it’s so true. None of the physical work (though tough!) was as hard as carving out time to get to practice, and it felt great to accomplish that.

The affirmations were another interesting challenge, something more mental and personal. The affirmations were simple but powerful: I trustI am focused, I surround myself  and so on. Adriene invited the ‘campers’ to complete the affirmations in our own way, to connect to them honestly and to take them with us throughout the day. Early in the month, my favourite practices would be the ones where I felt I got a really great work-out and my body was warm, stretched and then relaxed (like in Go With the Flow). Later in the month, my favourite practices were the ones where the affirmations challenged my mental status quo along with my physical work (as in I am in Control). I wasn’t sure how much I’d connect to the affirmations, but I wanted to stay open-minded. I’m glad I did as I had a lot of great conversations with myself about myself. Perhaps that sounds cheesy, but it was valuable and I’m more honest and happier for it.

Citadella stretching
Liberty Statue in Budapest. Perhaps also Hasta Uttanasana?

The last day of Yoga Camp was a great parting gift. Adriene introduced the practice as a self-guided one, to take everything I learned and experimented with over the month and follow my own routine on the mat. She took off the microphone, put on great music and completed her own practice in silence, inviting a true self-guided, freestyle home practice. I didn’t think I could fill 40 minutes myself, but I did! In the days since Yoga Camp, I’ve still been practicing daily, combining video and personal practice. It’s empowering to be your own teacher and be responsible for your own movement.

Yoga Mat can be anythingA home yoga practice is simple. You need almost nothing to start, just time, a teacher (via internet or library) and a quiet space. I didn’t have a yoga mat on January 1st so I completed my first practices on a towel. I didn’t have a block so I used a thick book I had at home. No complicated regime or equipment, just you and your movement. There are so many high-intensity workouts and expert advice to say what’s right and wrong for every exercise, it’s hard to decipher what works for you. Yoga has standard poses and practices but it is an inward experience. It’s simply about you pushing your own body in a way that is challenging but feels good.

If you’re looking to get into or get back into yoga, I highly recommend Yoga Camp. What about you? Do you have a home yoga practice? Did you try Yoga Camp? What do you think of yoga as physical (or mental!) exercise?



13 thoughts on “Postcard from #YogaCamp

  • February 7, 2016 at 2:56 pm

    Yoga with Adriene allows me to feel connected wherever I practice. Thanks Adriene!

    • February 7, 2016 at 4:44 pm

      She’s such a grounding but bouyant teacher, right?

  • February 7, 2016 at 4:01 pm

    Thank for follow up your online students. Yes what’s up with me.
    I was neglected. Just focus on my job and forgot about me. Stress never was on me but now it looks like. Trust me. I started last year watching your 30 days yoga every morning and I was feeling so great. As holidays was so closed and been so busy working because we have to do more an more and more to finish your duties bug nowcI want to focus on me. I am going to be 62 this coming March and want to be as I always I am positive, happy, energetic the last kind describe me. Thank you Adrianne you are my inspiration. God Bless You. Anamaria

    • February 7, 2016 at 4:59 pm

      January is such a perfect time to dive into Yoga Camp. What a great experience in so many ways, right? Hope you keep up your practice and happy almost birthday! -Hannah

      • February 8, 2016 at 10:44 pm

        Thank you, I’m going to jump on that train that I so long miss. Thank you Hannah.

        • February 9, 2016 at 12:18 am

          Hi Patricia,

          So glad you enjoyed. I was off the train for a long time, and it feels so good to be back. Enjoy your practices!

  • February 7, 2016 at 5:58 pm

    Great post! I loved yoga camp too!

  • February 7, 2016 at 11:12 pm

    Yes I also enjoyed the camp and am into it again. Love it. I do all Adriene’s yoga and downloaded some to travel with.

  • February 8, 2016 at 11:15 pm

    Hi Hannah! I found this post via #yogacamp on Twitter! 🙂 I loved reading your postcard home and how yoga camp has impacted your life! It’s been having such an impact on my life as well. I haven’t made it through camp yet, but I’ve been sharing my journey daily over on my blog! I love how yoga camp has brought thousands from all over the world together. 🙂
    Best wishes on your yoga journey!

    • February 9, 2016 at 12:32 am

      Hi Victoria,

      So glad you enjoyed reading it. Yoga Camp is such a great experience, in a very personal and a very global way. Which is hard to believe it can do both well, but it does. I’ll be checking out your journey on your blog! All the best!

  • February 20, 2016 at 1:16 pm

    Hi Hannah! I found your post on Yoga with Adriene website. I started from “30 days of yoga” last year, having absolutely no experience with this kind of activity before and I fell in love straight away. And like you, I just went with what I had. When I went for holidays and stayed in a tiny room I did yoga on the carpet using either a towel or a blanket. Or just used the bed instead of the mat. I’m also trying to follow the yoga camp but it’s much more difficult now as I have some ongoing arm injury that makes exercising quite painful.
    I enjoy the way yoga joins physical and mental activity, bringing the balance to the life, making you realize your strengths and points that require more work and improvement and even when I feel lazy or too tired I know it’s worth it to go on the mat and do even just 10 minutes.

    • February 20, 2016 at 2:46 pm

      Hi Adriana,

      I like that you started the same way! I’m not alone on my towel on the floor kicking it to YWA. I hope your injury doesn’t keep you away from yoga too long, or hopefully there are some modifications that can keep it interesting for you. Arm injuries on the mat would need a lot of love and attention, I imagine.

      Struggling to get to the mat is something I’ve been working on especially since Yoga Camp ended. Without a daily incentive, it’s harder to make the time. But that’s part of the mental work, too, right? And it’s such a great feeling to get on the mat and push myself. It’s all about your ‘edge’, which is in some ways easier and some ways way tougher!

      Hope your practice keeps going and it feels good!

      • February 27, 2016 at 1:16 pm

        Yes, I’m trying to be gentle with this arm. What’s more annoying, it keeps me away from my jiu-jitsu mat also, so finding a balance in life seems a bit more difficult now – but it still is possible. 😉

        I had the same feeling after finishing 30 days of yoga but then I found the solution – I checked how I felt every day and searched for a particular kind of yoga – and Adriene has it all, from yoga for PMS to yoga for sickness, sleep, after work and whatever you wish! 🙂

        It doesn’t feel good, but great, even with my dysfunctional arm. 😉
        Thank you.

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