My 30-Day Yoga Challenge: An Interview with Elizabeth Straube
In Ellen Langer’s book Mindfulness, she discusses how so many of our mind-body limits are just that, in our mind. Based on previous experiences, such as people telling us there is a limit or trying something and failing, we think that we are not good enough or not allowed to go any further. She also suggests what if we disregard these limits, pushing ourselves as far as we want to, our potential is actually limitless. In her research, she has proven that these “limits” we create can be overcome if we simply allow ourselves to see past them.
Needless to say, we get really excited when we hear that one of our clients has decided to push themselves, disregarding limitations and creating healthy goals as part of a personal challenge. Elizabeth Straube decided to do just that and, not only did she inspire us, but also inspired all of the students in her 4th grade class who cheered her on during this journey. Here is a little about her challenge and what it meant to her.
PZ: Tell us what your 30-day challenge was about.
Elizabeth: I have always been great about setting goals but terrible with keeping them. I mean, bad. I bought an unlimited pass for a month at Pike Yoga (in Germantown, TN) and since I had basically the whole month of June free, I decided I wanted to complete 30 classes in 30 days.
PZ: What gave you the idea to do the 30-day challenge?
Elizabeth: It was really important for me to set a goal and actually keep it. I had just started practicing in February, so I knew this was a pretty steep goal. But I was smart about the classes I chose, so it was easy (on that end) to keep my goal. I'm a teacher and I shared my goal with some students at the very end of the year. I think it's important for them to see me set goals and achieve them just like I encourage them to do. I'm excited to tell my students from last year that Ms. Straube did it!
PZ: What made you start practicing yoga?
Elizabeth: I have two very good friends who practice yoga consistently and who have been encouraging me for years to try. One day, one of them said, "Just search for a restorative yoga class near you and GO." So that is exactly what I did. I stumbled across Pike Yoga online and came to a restorative class and absolutely loved it. It was just what I needed. I've always been fairly flexible, so I thought yoga would be a good form of exercise for me to feel successful even in the beginning. During my 30-day challenge, the vast majority of my classes were gentle yoga, which I love. For me, it's the perfect blend of relaxing but still stretching and working up a light sweat.
PZ: What is your favorite thing about yoga?
Elizabeth: I'm a very "on the go" outgoing person. Yoga is the exact opposite of my personality. It forces me to slow down and just breathe. Not only does it force me to quiet my mind, but it also has helped me reflect. I also like how strong mentally and physically it has made me feel. I've seen an improvement just in the last 30 days, and I'm excited to see what additional poses I can master in the months and years ahead.
PZ: What kind of yoga is your favorite to practice?
Elizabeth: I'm all about some gentle yoga. For me, it's the best of both worlds.
PZ: What is your favorite yoga pose?
Elizabeth: I'm guessing savasana doesn't count (laughing)! I like doing any kind of forward fold. Feels so good for my back. I guess my favorite is a wide leg forward fold and touching my head to a block.
PZ: What was the hardest thing about doing the 30-day challenge?
Elizabeth: Honestly, the hardest part was making sure I was free for the (usually one) class that I felt I could successfully complete. I tried one Ashtanga and one Vinyasa and realized it was way out of my league. But one day.
PZ: Have you been able to keep up your yoga practice (since the challenge ended) to the extent you want to?
Elizabeth: Not really, but that's because I have been out of town three times since my challenge ended. I did some while I traveled, but not as much as I would have had I been in town. But I'm looking forward to getting on a routine again once school starts in August.
PZ: What is the hardest thing you find about being consistent in your yoga practice and how do you overcome that challenge?
Elizabeth: Definitely time. So easy to get busy, but I've learned I have to choose to make it a priority. There were one or two times I turned down plans with friends during my challenge because I was so determined to get my 30 classes in. I admit, if I'm not in "challenge mode," I would most likely not turn down time with my friends to attend a yoga class. But with that being said, I really enjoy yoga and once I get back on a weekly routine (say, two classes a week), I don't think I'll have a problem with consistently practicing. I really enjoy it and I've never finished a class and thought, man, I wish I hadn't come. It has been beneficial in so many aspects. And I KNOW how much better I feel afterwards. I look forward and genuinely WANT to come to class. It doesn't feel like something I have to do--it's something I want to do.
PZ: What is something you learned about yourself during your 30-day challenge?
Elizabeth: I don't give myself nearly enough credit. I am so proud of myself for completing the challenge. I was also reminded that I'm much stronger than I think I am.
PZ: What are some words of advice you have for someone who has been thinking about trying yoga but is scared to or doesn’t think they can do it?
Elizabeth: Like Nike says, just do it. But be strategic in picking your first class. Choose one that doesn't intimidate you as much so you will feel successful and will be more likely to return. It also helps to go with a friend. Also, don't be too hard on yourself. If you don't enjoy one class, try another one. I promise there is a yoga class for EVERYBODY.
PZ: Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
Elizabeth: Thank you so much for all your encouragement! Practicing yoga has been one of the best decisions I have made in a long time. I'm so very thankful it is a part of my life. See you very soon back on the mat!
Elizabeth’s challenge showed us that priorities, goals and pushing limits are important, but so is non-judgement and forgiveness when things don’t go as planned. The most important lesson, however, is the one Ms. Straube showed her fourth grade students - that not only is she an amazing teacher, but also an authentic role model that has planted seeds of commitment and empowerment in their minds.
Want to try out a 30-day challenge for yourself but getting to a yoga studio right now is not your thing? Check out our Daily Challenge page for ideas!