August Motivation for the Mind!
The August Challenge works from the outside inward using the practice of Yoga. This month’s challenge is suitable for total beginners, as well as advanced practitioners and teachers.
I discovered the benefits of yoga 20+ years ago as an injured endurance athlete and have been forever grateful of a consistent practice’s impact on my body, mind, energy and daily mood.
There are 3 parts to complete for the August Yoga challenge, and they are organized around the aims of consistency, depth, and newness:
- Consistency: DAILY 3 Rounds of Sun Salutation A + 3 mindful minutes
- Depth: 4 yoga practices or classes throughout the month (min. 30min, can be any style, guided or self-practice, at home, in nature, at a studio or gym, etc.)
- Newness: 1x a style of yoga you’ve never done, any duration session
I realize that August is typically a big travel month, but this challenge is 100% doable, even if you’re traveling non-stop! If you’ve got time to breathe, you’ve got time to move while breathing and to create a few quite moments for yourself.
Can you do MORE than what is listed in the 3 parts? Absolutely!
Remember though, it’s important to aim for quality over quantity. If you want to make the challenge harder, more frequent or longer in duration in any or all of the categories, that’s totally fine. To help with this, I included guidance below in the “For More Experienced…” section.
For Yoga Beginners
- HOW TO do Sun Salutations
- Here’s a very good video demo of Sun Salutation A in the Ashtanga style.
- I suggest that you do these first thing in the morning.
- Don’t rush the movement (it’s not Burpee time). Move with intention and accept wherever your body is on a given day, at a given time. It’s common to not feel very flexible in the morning. The movement and breath are more important than looking like a gymnast or dancer in the poses.
- Breathe in when making upward movements (e.g. raising arms, lifting torso up from a fold, stepping forward). Breathe out when making downward movements (folding at the waist, lowering arms). Breathe in and out through your nose.
- A yoga mat isn’t required. You can complete a few Sun Salutation A’s on just about any firm surface. Grass is my favorite.
- Mindful minutes: Keep it simple, especially at first. Set a count-down timer and simply sit in quietness for 3 minutes, listening to your long, deep breaths. I suggest that you complete this right after Sun Salutations (and before you check your phone/social media), but you could also do this during your commute or before going to bed. You may wish to later try out visualization and concentration practices, meditation techniques, Breathing practices / Pranayama. I like the app called “Insight Timer” as a timer for my mindful sessions, as well as for guided meditations and visualizations. There are many other excellent apps as well. I use an app called Pranayama for breath practices.
- Newness: If you are new to yoga, then you will have completed this category with your first Sun Salutations of the month! You’re welcome to kick it up a notch though and join a yoga class somewhere. Nothing beats working with a great teacher. If you don’t have access to good local teachers, then consider taking an online class through service, such as Yogaglo.com
For More Experienced Yogis & Yoginis
- If you already have a consistent and rich (8 Limbs) daily practice, then I suggest that you open your practice to the core growth themes in this month’s challenge: consistency, depth and newness. For example, perhaps the consistency part is a daily 10min Pranayama practice to complete 31 times in August. The Depth component could be 4 deeper meditation practices to complete and the Newness component could be your first Yin class, first time in a Qigong class, or first time completing your self-practice while wearing a blind-fold. You could also give Laughter Yoga a try if you haven’t experienced it before.
- Sharing some personal insights, my personal approach for August will be to complete the daily Sun Salutations + 3min meditation for 31 days straight, which will be a much-needed consistency challenge for me, especially on the many busy pre- and post-travel days I expect this month. It’s hard for me to stop after 3 rounds of Sun Salutation A and 3 minutes of meditation, and I likely won’t often stop with a 5min morning ritual, but that’s my fire-starter just to be consistent daily. I also aim to complete a minimum of 2x Ashtanga Full Primary and 2x Yin, and to join at least one local class while in India. More will happen, but I’ve been omitting Yin and Full Primary the past two months and would like to bring a focus back to each. I’ll also be adding back strength and interval training that has been missing for the past few months.
How to Join
Just ask to join this closed Facebook Group — for support and accountability. The support group on Facebook brings friendly and supportive people together from around the world.
Once you’re in, feel free to add any friends who want to join.
It’s not required that you post on the group, or even join it in the first place. It’s more fun and motivational in a community though!
By the way, this whole thing is FREE — just good people coming together to support each other.
This month’s secondary challenge is simply to invite someone to join you in at least one practice!
Helpful Tools & Ideas
Reminder and Accountability Apps: I use the iPhone app called Productive to remind me and keep accountable during our challenges. There are others as well. These apps are excellent for accountability.
What if I miss a day of Sun Salutations? Make it up the next day. You can make up as many days as you miss, but don’t forget the intention: it’s about developing consistency and honoring your commitment.
May I join late? What is the deadline? You may join any time you want, including late in the month. Really? Sure. It’s more fun to join closer to the start of the month. If you discover the challenge later in the month though and can complete all 3 parts (catching up on the Sun Salutations), then please go for it and join us!
How do I join if I’m not on Facebook? Just say I’m in out loud 3 times, and you’ll be in! If you want to connect the dots and receive a virtual high-five, feel free to also drop me a note at [email protected] or say hi on other social media channels (links in footer).
May I join the challenge, but start my own Facebook group for my gym, club, friends or community? Sure. I’d love to see you in the global group, so how about both?
I hope you join us!
Becky are are spending half of this month in India, so it was hard to pass up the chance to bring focus to Yoga!
— Coach Jeff
Jeff Grant is the author of Flow State Runner: Activate a Powerful Inner Coach’s Voice, Hill Running: Survive & Thrive, Run Faster: Unlock Your Speed in 8 Weeks, Running Heavy, and UltraRunning: Coach’s Handbook. Based in Switzerland, Jeff is a coach and writer who specializes in mental coaching, peak performance, and transformation. Jeff’s popular newsletter is a digest containing inspirational and instructional resources, including his latest content. See recent issues and subscribe for free here. Refer to Jeff’s bio for more information, and please check out Jeff’s Coach & Author page on Facebook.