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Student Stories: Shantae McGee

I’ve always been the girl who tried a lot of things but never stuck with any of it. I would join a gym, work out for two months, then quit. I would take up running, and four weeks later, hang up my sneakers.  I would sign up for kickboxing, and allow other commitments to take precedence over attending class. I knew I desperately needed to incorporate consistent, preferably daily, movement into my life, but it had to be something that was sustainable. I decided on Bikram yoga.

I had already taken classes before [I did a 30 day challenge the 30 days leading up to my 30th birthday in 2013, and pretty much stopped going once it was over] so I was familiar with the practice. I hadn’t practiced in a long time (8 months) so it was still considered a new activity. I love to be barefoot and I always sweat when working out so it seemed to be the perfect environment. When I was doing my 30 day challenge, I stumbled upon a blog about a worldwide 101 Day Bikram Yoga challenge. 101 days?! This would definitely be a challenge. I set the intention and I selected a start date: New Year’s Day 2015.

Even though my goal was 101 days of yoga, I was afraid I wouldn’t accomplish it so I told everyone I was just doing a 30 day challenge. The great thing was that I met other yogis who were also doing challenges and that motivated me to continue to show up every day. 30, 60, 90, 100 days passed, and I reached my goal of 101 days on April 11th. I couldn’t believe it. I don’t think I’ve done anything for 101 days straight. The best part was that I had no desire to stop. I think when Bikram says ‘Give me 60 days and I will change your life’, it doesn’t necessarily mean that all circumstances will change (i.e. I will have lost X number of pounds, quit my job, found love, etc.) Sometimes, it just means I’m no longer counting down the days of my challenge; now I’m embracing a new lifelong practice.

In the 365 days of yoga, I have found space in my body and clarity in my mind. I’ve experienced an increase in strength and flexibility, I have a greater ability to focus, and I’m becoming more disciplined. Most days, this was the hardest thing I did, but I was dedicated to showing up every day and doing the hard thing, because that’s where the greatest reward comes from.

This hasn’t been an easy journey, but I remind myself that there is a higher purpose to this practice. What that purpose is isn’t fully revealed right now, but I trust that there is something happening. Growth is definitely happening. My muscles are growing. My flexibility is growing. My mental strength is growing. My emotional stability is growing. My spiritual growth is growing.

To encourage other yogis who may be considering a daily challenge or anyone who wants to embark on a new journey, I’ll use a quote that our dear instructor, Kathryn Leary, often shares during class:

Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now. – Goethe