Plus there are some serious health perks. While just 15 minutes of yoga has been shown to improve brain activity and mood, a 3-month practice could reduce depression or a depressive mood by 50%, and anxiety could decrease by 40% with any regular practice.
Yoga can also lower your cholesterol by 23%, and one month of downward-dog’ing and dancer’ing could improve your lung capacity by 43%. Despite what Instagram culture tells us, it’s less about doing headstands and more about cementing healthy habits for life, and Women’s Health Collective trainer Sanchia Legister is here to show you how.
Over the next 30 days, she’ll coach you through a series of exclusive yoga practices, peppered with meditation and journalling, 'to help you feel more grounded and connected to yourself, whilst feeling energised and releasing any tension and stress in your body.’ She’s put together an energising flow, a grounding flow and a restorative yin practice.
‘A flow tends to be more dynamic; it builds, peaks and then tapers off, so that you can build heat, raise your heart-rate and break a sweat. Yin yoga involves holding static poses for longer, to encourage your body to enter parasympathetic mode (for restoration and stress release). All of my practices in this plan will lengthen and strengthen your whole body, while improving stamina, mobility and range of motion.’
The challenge officially begins on 30th January, but you’re under no obligation to stick to our timings. Bookmark this page and come back whenever you’re ready, and scroll down to see what Sanchia recommends once the 30 days are up.
How to do the 30-day plan
- Each week, Sanchia will coach you through three 20-minute flows: an energising flow, a restorative yin practice, and a grounding flow.
- Work with your breath, and 'use it as a guide to connect each movement,' says Sanchia. She'll give you direction on how long each inhale and exhale should be within each flow.
- On the days when you aren't doing a flow, Sanchia advises either meditation or journalling.
- You can use your own meditation practice, if you have one, or follow a guided meditation on YouTube.
- You'll conclude each week with journalling. 'Use this to reflect on your week,' Sanchia says. 'What have you noticed and felt on a mind, body and soul level?' Write down anything that comes to mind; it doesn't have to be relevant to your yoga plan, perhaps it is just something that came up throughout your week.
Equipment: Energising flow: One yoga mat, blocks and strap optional. Restorative yin yoga: One yoga mat, yoga blocks, and a bolster/cushion/blanket. Grounding flow: One yoga mat, blocks and strap optional.
The plan at a glance
Save or screenshot this handy infographic to help you keep track of what you should be doing and when.
How to further your practice
- Within each week, Sanchia advises progression and regression options to further your practice, both physically and mentally.
- Week one:
'Set an intention for your week. This can be one word or a sentence. You might want to write this down and put it somewhere you can see every morning. Some prompts: Why have you chosen to practice yoga for the next month. What are your goals? Where would you like this practice to take you? Remind yourself that yoga is a practice.'
- Week two:
'Continue by setting a new intention for your week. Think about where you want to feel this in your body.
'Depending on your energy levels (factor in your emotional/hormonal body too) you could also consider joining two flows together. You may like to start with the grounding yoga flow and lead into the energising yoga flow for a morning practice, or start with the energising flow and end with yin in the evening.'
- Week three:
'What is your new intention this week? Reflect back on last week and where you felt good. Are there any themes from your journalling, that you could work on or use in your favour?
'Physically, consider slowing each flow down and heating things up by spending five breaths in each pose.'
- Week four:
'Set your final intention. How will you really lean in this week?
'If you're looking to further your physical practice, think about joining three flows together. I'd recommend starting with the grounding flow, leading into the energising yoga flow, and finishing with the restorative yin practice.'
- Within each week, Sanchia also advises increasing the amount of meditation you do, if you'd like to. She recommends starting with a 2-minute practice, then upping to 4 minutes, and finishing each week with a 6-minute session.
Make both your yoga and meditation practice your own; it's totally fine if you end a meditation sooner than expected, and feel free to rest in child's pose at any point within your flows.
Your 30-day yoga challenge
Flow 1: 25-min grounding yoga flow
Equipment needed: Yoga mat. Optional: blocks and strap.
Flow 2: 25-min energising yoga flow
Equipment needed: Yoga mat. Optional: blocks.
Practice 3: 25-min restorative yin yoga
Equipment needed: Yoga mat. Optional: blocks, bolster/cushion/blanket.
Try the following guided meditations on days where Sanchia advises meditation. Find somewhere calm and quiet, and follow your breath. Your mind may wander and that's OK, let your thoughts come and go, then try and come back to the guide. Counting your breaths may help if you're a beginner.
10-minute meditation for anxiety
5-minute do-anywhere meditation
10-minute grounding meditation
What to do when the 4 weeks is up
'I highly recommend continuing with your yoga journey,' says Sanchia. 'Yoga is a practice and when done consistently in the long-term, it can reduce stress levels, build strength and flexibility, improve your energy levels and vitality whilst enabling a better understanding of your mind-body connection.
'It can also reduce tension and discomfort in the body, and help you to start or end your day more mindfully. I have found that yoga has a beautiful way of influencing other areas of your life. The more you explore and show up for yourself on the mat, the more you explore and show up in your life and make better decisions for yourself.'
Pick and choose one of Sanchia's flows as and when they feel best suited to you, and aim for 2-3 per week.