When you are an actor you spend a large amount of your time looking for work. Even when you are currently in a show you are always on the lookout to book the next gig. It is often said in this business that only 2% of professional actors are working at any given time, so if you are actually employed at a theatre or in a film you are incredibly lucky and probably worked your butt off to get there.
Because of this, now and then, there are long periods of time where you are unemployed and working at what actors affectionately call their “survival job,” as they actively audition, train with coaches, and take classes to hone their craft.
Not too long ago, in 2009, I had 8 months in which I was not performing but just training and looking for that next job. It was the longest I had gone without working since I had started performing and when I was cast in my next show I knew that I needed to get back into the mindset and physical shape that was necessary in order to withstand a hectic 10 to 12 day rehearsal period and the 8 to 10 shows I would be performing week after week.
As I already had a pretty heavy Bikram Yoga practice, getting to class 5 to 6 days a week, I thought it would be a great idea to challenge myself to 30 straight days of yoga before I left town on my next gig. I had always wanted to do a 30-day challenge and even though the studio wasn’t hosting one I decided to go for it on my own.
The first 5 days were a breeze. In fact it was just a normal week for me. But all of a sudden it hit me on day 7 or 8. I was so sore. And tired. I remember laying on the couch looking at the length of my aching limbs and saying to my husband, “Why am I doing this to myself?” His reply was, “Honestly, babe, I have no idea.”
But I soldiered on. Everyone at the studio knew I was going for the 30 days, so even though there were no stickers to put on the wall to track my progress or other students involved, teachers and friends would always ask me how it was going and held me accountable for the goal I had put in front of me.
Around the halfway point though it suddenly became easier. I had a ton of energy, was no longer sore, and the endless chatter of my mind had died down. I felt more centered and at ease with myself than ever before.
On day 30 I was incredibly proud that I had finished. I had 15 days until I left for my first rehearsal at a theatre I was excited to work at and I had accomplished a goal I had always wanted to go after.
But then the next morning I woke up. What was I going to do with the time I had carved out for the last 30 days in which I took class? Without really thinking about it much, I grabbed my gear and headed to the studio and kept going with challenge. Honestly, I think the only reason I stopped was because I had to leave town and where I was headed had no Bikram studios in the area. So my 30-day challenge actually lasted a total of 45 days. And when I look back on that time I can see that was when the whispers of going to teacher training started to become a little bit louder. This may be why I have such affection for the process of the 30-day challenge.
Most studios do 30-day challenges a couple of times of year. Watching the students at the studios I’m privileged enough to teach at go through the process is incredibly fun and inspiring. If you have never done a challenge put it on your bucket list and expect some, most, or all of the following to happen for you:
Create a New Circle of Friends
Doing a challenge with a group of people from the studio erases any lines of differences you may feel about others. You are all sore and tired at some point and can bond about how the challenge is affecting you and your everyday life. Even when I did a challenge on my own so many people were aware of what I was doing as other teachers and students talked about it, that other students would chat with me about what day I was on or why I had taken on the challenge to begin with, which in turn started quite a few friendships that I cherish to this day.
Have a New Understanding of What Your Limits Truly Are
The challenge is just that – a challenge. It will test your will, your strength, and your boundaries. Most students doing a challenge will go through a couple of days where they are sore or fatigued. All they have to do though is go through it, posture by posture. Eventually the physical limits you thought you had drop away and you begin to realize that anything is truly possible.
The Universe Starts Taking You Seriously
Now I know this seems a bit intense, but when you decide for 30 straight days to put your health (physical, mental, emotional) as top priority in your life, than the energy around you will start to change. You begin to realize that you should be the top priority in your life. If you take care of yourself, you will be able to take care of the people that mean so much to you with more energy, love, and mindfulness and your world starts to open up in new ways you never expected.
Find a Sense of Peace and Clarity Within the Mind and Body
When you commit to the moving meditation offered within the Bikram Yoga Series day after day you may find the mind starting to slow down, a stronger connection to your breath and a sense of mindfulness that was not there at the beginning of the challenge. Everyday situations that may have caused you stress or dis-ease are handled with relaxed control and simplicity.
Be an Inspiration to Others
To commit to a 30-day challenge is no small undertaking. As others watch your progress throughout that time period they become inspired to take on the challenge next time it comes around at the studio or to take on other challenges they have always wanted to accomplish. Don’t underestimate the influence you are having on those around you. Your positive changes make a difference to your family, friends, and community. People you may never really know might make a positive choice and take on a new goal as they see you accomplish your goals. You are an inspiration.
I would like to congratulate all of those who have already accomplished a 30-day challenge, as well as, cheer on those of you who are in the middle of one on this day. And I encourage those of you who are even slightly interested and curious about meeting this goal to put it on the list of things you would like to do in this lifetime. Make it happen!
What changes have you noticed in yourself while you were, or are, doing a 30-day challenge?
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