By: Danielle Wilson
As the first week of BFPY’s Fall Yoga Challenges comes to an end, I can’t help pondering the word challenge and how much I feel it lives in contrast to the experience of this particular event. *By definition, challenge means “a call to take part in a contest or competition, especially a duel.” Perhaps it’s simply my personal experiences with contests and competitions—let’s be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever found myself in an actual duel—but I don’t necessarily relate to these terms in a positive manner. They sound grueling, heavy, stressful, taxing in a way that merely fulfills the ego (if you win, that is), but none of this is descriptive of BFPY’s Yoga Challenge experience, is it?
This week, I’ve watched our community SHOW UP! Classes doubling, even tripling in size at the invitation of a challenge. With the room packed, fashioning rows of mats four or five across, the energy is electric! People are excited to show up and, even more so, to watch as friends, old and new, show up too. It’s a beautiful representation of the communing that occurs in the face of a challenge. Far from being grueling, heavy, or stressful, at this point, the Yoga Challenge feels collective, supportive, inspiring and bright.
The beginning of any challenge—Bare Feet’s especially—brings with it a feeling of celebration that would probably be more suited post-success. If you’ve joined us at the studio this week, I’m sure you felt that excitable energy living within the conversations, interactions, or just mere presence in the room. We’re motivated in a way that’s vibrant and easy as we pick out which fruit shaped sticker we’ll place next to our name on that poster board we know so well, but what happens when certain rows keep growing in their collection while others remain stagnant with some grapes, a strawberry, and a pear? The truth is, eventually the pressure of words like competition and contest do begin to weigh down on us throughout the Fall Yoga Challenge—the kicker is, the only person we’re competing against is ourselves.
Right now, I’m basking in the joy of our community coming together with such spirit at the commencement of this challenge. It’s inspiring and warms my heart in a way that makes getting to my mat soworth it! I know, though, that the high of this early-onset celebration will soon fade, and creating a certain level of mindfulness around that fact is crucial in manifesting a pleasant success. As the newness of this event (and the thought of a cute free t-shirt) begins to lose its edge, as we wake up for the 6thor 7thearly morning in a row, what once brought such an alluring feeling of togetherness, purpose, and accomplishment, may begin to feel burdensome and exhausting. We land in a self against Self situation, in which a dual between ego and spirit rears its ugly head. Suddenly, there’s a loneliness that settles in as the energized external interactions we once had become frustrating internal arguments.
Thrilling highs and discouraging lows are a natural part of any challenge, but there’s a special tool we all have at Bare Feet to aid in navigating this winding journey: yoga. Teaching us balance and presence, yoga reminds us to be compassionate with ourselves when times get tough and shift our perspective to finding the joy that exists in each moment we meet. Is it possible to maintain high vibrational energy, love, and excitement throughout the duration of this challenge? Aside from the small, natural fluctuations of human life, yes, I genuinely think it is.
As we walk into week two of BFPY’s Fall Yoga Challenge, I encourage you to acknowledge that the excited and supportive community you felt so embraced by this past week is still standing strong around you. We may lose steam, sleep, and the taste of newness celebration, but we’re in it together. There are no lonely competitors in this game, there is only one team, the Bare Feet team, and in a few more weeks we’ll accomplish this challenge in the same way we started: as one.