Learning from a Failed 30 Day Yoga Challenge

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Toronto, Canada

I wanted to start the year off right with a 30-day yoga challenge. Yoga was one of the things I missed on the road and wanted to be a part of my return.

Thirty days of yoga, when you have only practiced it three times in 18 months, is ambitious but I have completed two 30-day challenges before when I was a faithful hot yoga student at Moksha Yoga – and then Yoga Tree opened up down the street from work. It was a sign.


Or so I thought



Days 1-13 were amazing. After a week I felt stronger, more energetic and had really focused on becoming healthier. I once woke up at 5:30am so I could go to a class before work as I knew I would working late. I was on such a streak I had no idea I would be blindsided by the great hurdle of all:


A massive hangover



Day 13 was a Saturday night. I chose to drink vodka and water as the healthier solution – after all it was water too! But somewhere along the night doubles seemed like a good idea.


Doubles are never a good idea.



The next day all that water I drank could not save me from the massive vodka hangover. I learned when vodka battles water, vodka wins. I stayed in bed all day watching movies and did not get out of bed until 7pm!

Yoga was out of the question. Then I really fell off the bandwagon and just did not go back for nearly two weeks, but instead of looking at this as a failure I did learn a few things:

1) I need to learn moderation. Doing this challenge was a priority for me and yet I allowed bad habits to rob me of the accomplishment.

It is completely unrealistic for me to say I’ll stop drinking, I socialize a lot and it’s one of the few vices I enjoy. But I need to look at the bigger picture and if something is truly importantly to me I can cut back on the number of drinks – or at least lay off the doubles.

2) I need to be more flexible. The previous 30-day challenges with Moksha Yoga allowed for a few double class days to make up for days I could not go. I was so stubborn that I had to do it every day that I couldn’t bring myself to go back. If I attempt it again I won’t be so strict.

I looked back at my notes from the 13 days when I was so proud of myself for learning how to properly do a shoulderstand or just making the effort to go and I was reminded that simple changes combine for a larger effort:

When you control your breathing you control your mind. When you control your mind you control your life.

So it’s all to say it is about balance. Neither being strict nor being a lush is conducive to meeting goals, next time I’ll be kinder to myself and a less sloshy drunk so I can finish a challenge.



Join the Conversation

  1. OK. I didn’t laugh, but I did chuckle a bit. I figured out a while ago that those hangover days eat too deeply into my life to be worth it. Now I drink what I want, but in widely spaced out doses and not more than three beers/glasses of wine/margaritas in a night. A light buzz and the ability to function the next day. Averaged across two days it’s more fun, even if it’s not so fun the “drinking” night 🙂

  2. Caro from Passport and a Toothbrush says:

    It’s funny, I was intense this summer as well with the gym. I am in NO WAY athletic and suddenly, I was going every day, doing intense workouts until suddenly I got bored to death. I tried to return and realized how much I hate it. So I’d agree that if you start something, such as yoga, take it slow and easy! And maybe easy on the drinks too ; )

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Well I have been back, I started going again last week and instead of a challenge I’m just going to go.

      I am also working on moderation, that’s actually the harder part!

  3. That’s exactly how I felt when I tried to do the same challenge and got sick. I haven’t been back since but with my current 30 day challenge of not buying lunch, I’ve learned to give myself a little leg room. I.e. if I really am stressed out, it’s okay to go to Chipotle if it makes it feel all better. Otherwise, loosening up a bit on the goals and not being so strict has enabled me to achieve them with a greater success. Good for you for learning a lesson in it all!

  4. Totally agree about not being as strict in your challenges. If you make them too strict, you really do guilt yourself into believing that one slip up ruins the whole thing. I am working on the 2 month Insanity challenge right now. I’m only 2 weeks away from finishing.I gave myself some flexibility on moving my rest day and gave myself a few more recovery workouts in the recovery week when my muscles were screaming. For the first time since I started, I took more rest days than the calendar allows. I could have just quit, but instead, I shifted the calendar so that I will finish later, but finish every workout. Worth it.

  5. Hum. This has just reminded me how far I am from my own New Year fitness goals…

  6. You know I had a pivotal moment like this about 32 years ago. I remember being face down on the coach on an early Saturday morning. The TV was on and I was watching Sesame Street out of one eye and realizing that I either had to rethink my drinking or send the kid back. I chose you…you’re welcome! There is nothing wrong with moderation!

  7. I could totally relate to this. Reaching balance is also one of goals for 2012. I have a teensy problem with moderation myself (umm, maybe you noticed? I don’t just talk about cookies all the time for nothing). I didn’t drink much last year, but the few times I did I went a bit overboard and was in lots of pain the next day. These days I’m trying to go out more & be more social… but also drink less when I’m out. And, you know, moderate the cookie consumption too, a bit.

  8. Camels & Chocolate says:

    I’ve never understood how you yoga fanatics can go 30 days in a row! During training for my first marathon, I did Bikram three days a week and that was about as much as I could managed (mixed with three to four days of running a week, as well). Now, it’s a good week if I get five days or working out in!

  9. I’m just impressed that you can even do hot yoga. I hate having hot air in my face so there would be no escape for me in the room.

  10. Stephanie - The Travel Chica says:

    “When vodka battles water, vodka wins.” Truer words were never spoken.

  11. Meg | One Love Meg says:

    I thought I was reading one of my yoga challenges for a minute. Vodka will do it. It can be a challenge ender! I like the lessons you learned from it. I have learned through some of my challenges that you can’t be so strict, it allows you to fail to easily. If anything it sounds like you absorbed a lot of yoga. That’s always a plus!

  12. Love the pic at the top 😉 This sounds like something that would happen to me only it would have been day 4 instead of 13. These days, the hangovers are getting to be pretty devastating. I have a feeling it’s only going to get worse. It’s the main reason I’ve cut back on drinking a lot over the past couple of years.

  13. I have the exact same problem: way too strict when I set out a challenge, and way too incline toward booze when I socialize 😉 I’m currently training for a half-marathon and let’s just say I’m not doing a stellar job… Balance: eluding my grasp since 1982!

  14. Bummer that you didn’t complete it but, I’m SO impressed you made it 13 days in a row!! I went to yoga two weeks in a row (and I mean once a week, two weeks in a row) and was so proud. It’s no secret that I hate yoga and prefer something faster paced, but I think I’m slowly coming around 😉

  15. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures says:

    13 days in a row is pretty impressive to me! Love the pics!!!

  16. Oh… the double!!
    More than once I have woken up the next day telling myself that the word “double” needs to be completely removed from my vocabulary…. but there is this one bar I go to so much I’m friends with the waiter and he has now started saying double for me….I kind of like it though… haha

  17. I think I will be trying my first ever yoga class in the next two weeks… see how bad I am at it!

  18. DTravelsRound says:

    I just signed up at a hot yoga studio and thought of you when I was sweating my face off in my first session. I imagined doing it for 30 days straight. Yeah … it’s quite the undertaking!!

  19. This is the story of my life. It only takes that ONE night to go completely overboard and throw everything out of wack. But I’m learning to be kinder to myself, and that means not only learning to drink in slightly more moderation, but not being so hard on myself either.

  20. I think it’s like anything else, small doses, moderation, allowing yourself a “cheat” every so often…it all helps to keep with a long term goal. I want to eat better and exercise more, but I know if I try to make an extreme change I’ll snap and splurge on ice cream, alcohol and all kinds of unhealthy things.

  21. Like Ali said, allowing yourself a ‘cheat’ every so often, whether it’s doubling up classes or not wouldn’t be the worst idea. 🙂 At least the experience has made you reflect.

  22. Noooo!! Start the challenge again 😉 I love yoga, I used to do it and then stopped due to compulsive traveling, but I want to start again, learn the main principles and do it on my own, I always found it very useful. Plus, I don’t drink, so at least I’ll avoid the hangover part 😛

  23. Nomadic Samuel says:

    I’ve experienced similar things to what happened with you. If I fall of the wagon I come down crashing hard.

  24. Oh dear. Yes, vodka does always seem to win. Vodka hangovers are the worst too – I’m not surprised you couldn’t do yoga. 13 days straight is still pretty impressive. I too have learned the hard way to set more ‘realistic’ goals to avoid disappointment.

  25. Mariellen Ward says:

    Hi Ayngelina, As I read this I am on Day 16 of a 30-Day Yoga Challenge at Lila Yoga doing primarily hatha, flow and vinyasa yoga. So far so good, though some days I really have had to push myself out the door. But this week is my birthday and I have a lot of plans and I’m worried I won’t be able to make it every day to class …. not sure I am going to handel it yet …. On the one hand, I think ti is good to follow through on commitments and develop discipline; but on the other, rigidity is not a particularly “yogic” or spiritual attitude. So, we’ll see what I do … even I don’t know … But isn’t that the whole point of a journey!?!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I’ve done two challenges before where you can miss a day and do two later on to make up for it. I think it may be a better approach. Although oddly enough since I ended the challenge I’ve had no problem going 4-5 days a week because I didn’t pressure myself to go.

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