How the 40 Days to Personal Revolution yoga program helped a commitment-phobic, beginner yogi wake up to herself
I once shuddered at the word “commitment.” Grudgingly forced myself to do physical activity. Was so out of touch with my true self but didn’t know it. So when my new yoga teacher suggested I sign up for the 40 Days to Personal Revolution yoga program in Colorado Springs, I balked. If I hadn’t been an emotional wreck at the time, in desperate need of a change, I doubt I would have signed up. But I did.
“I just finished 40 Days to Personal Revolution, and all I got was this inner peace,” I posted on Facebook on March 30, 2015, after the six weeks of self-work. “Everything changes when you start listening to yourself.”
I completed the 40-day yoga program in Colorado Springs, but it’s also offered at other Baptiste-influenced studios across the country. At the time I had just started an earnest yoga practice after years of flirting superficially with it. And I never could have imagined that a year after finishing the program, I’d be training to become a yoga teacher.
Because the 40 Days to Personal Revolution yoga program has been so pivotal in my life, I want to share my experience in hopes of inspiring others to try it on. I’ll also outline what to expect if you join the program at a yoga studio in your area. At our studio in Colorado Springs, the next one begins Oct. 29).
The course book
At the first weekly meeting, you receive a copy of “40 Days to Personal Revolution” by Baron Baptiste. There are very few passages in my copy of the book that aren’t highlighted. You’ll have assigned readings based on weekly themes such as presence and equanimity. It’s all informed by 12 laws of transformation — principles that will guide you through the program and in your future yoga practice.
You begin with at least 25 minutes of physical yoga practice a day, six days a week, and work up. The book breaks down the most common Power Yoga poses, explaining proper alignment and offering modifications.
I managed to make it to six classes a week during my first 40 Days to Personal Revolution — even though I worked full time, taught piano lessons, and played in two bands. The biggest reason I was able to keep that commitment? My teacher had assured me that even if I felt exhausted, I should “show up on my mat.” She said I could stay in Child’s Pose or Savasana the whole time if needed. So even when my muscles felt wobbly and my wrists hurt, I rolled out my mat on the studio floor. The funny thing was, giving myself permission to stay in Child’s Pose for the whole class made me not WANT to. I modified poses as I built up strength in my wrists and other body parts. Tears mixed with sweat at times as I pushed through yet another Chaturanga. But the key was I kept showing up — after a lifetime of running away when things got uncomfortable.
As part of the 40 Days to Personal Revolution program, you’ll begin a consistent meditation practice, starting with five minutes per session and working up. I had never meditated before, and it sounded intimidating … and boring. I also thought meditation was about “clearing your mind,” which sounded impossible and frustrating. But the type of meditation Baptiste teaches is a simple mindfulness practice. You sit in a comfy place, and instead of trying to tune out thoughts, which I still believe is impossible, you just begin to notice them.
“As you do this, notice that you are not your thoughts.”
I highlighted that passage in the book and then copied it into my journal. A basic concept in many ancient meditative practices, this idea freed me from a lot of neuroticism. I am not my thoughts. And over time with a steady meditation practice, the space between my thoughts increased. In that space I accessed my true Self — which I’d tuned out for so long.
The mindful eating
Baptiste tells how to eat a balancing diet in the book. But you don’t “go on a diet” during the 40 Days program (although one week features a three-day fruit cleanse). Drawing on Ayurvedic wisdom about foods with heating, cooling, building and burning properties, Baptiste encourages students to eat mindfully and choose unprocessed, nourishing foods.
You will keep a journal to record your experiences as part of the program. I have done the 40 Days to Personal Revolution program five times now, every time with different commitment levels. One time, I barely journaled at all — and my results were meh. I learned just how important it is to write in your journal every day of the program. You need to get present to what’s going on so you can begin to observe, notice and listen to yourself.
The group of people joining you on the 40 Days journey will be crucial in your revolution. The commitment you make to the group during your first meeting helps keep you accountable. During weekly meetings you share your experience and renew your commitments. For the yoga program in Colorado Springs at our studio, the trainers encourage communication between group members in a private Facebook group and by buddying people up for daily check-ins.
What you get out of the 40 Days to Personal Revolution program will be equal to what you put into it. I had my biggest revolution in 2015 — maybe because it was my first one or maybe because I was going through especially difficult circumstances when I signed up.
My first Personal Revolution set me on a new path, one dedicated to the whole-life practice of yoga because I felt so good — so clear — after the six weeks. By the end of that year, I felt like the true me had emerged. An old friend told me: “You seem really comfortable in your own skin.” I was. My marriage was stronger than ever because I learned to clearly and honestly say what I wanted and needed. I had let go of 20 pounds of excess weight. And I was no longer being dishonest with myself about my true motivations — I stopped flirting with disaster and started speaking my truth. A year later I entered yoga teacher training and earned my 200-hour certification. I now guide students on their own journeys in hopes they will get to know themselves better so they can live more fully.
Always in process
Trying to sum up what I got out of that first revolution is difficult because as Baptiste writes in the “40 Days” book, “the prize is in the process.” We never “arrive,” as much as we might strive, because life exists only in the present moment. So I really hate “before and after” photos and stories because they leave out the actual moments of the journey and the process — which is the only place transformation really exists.
And transformation looks different on any given day. It’s the same with our ability to balance in poses like Half Moon or Warrior III on any given day. Lately I find myself making it to only one or two yoga classes a week, rather than the four practices a week I need to feel my best. My husband and I go through periods of horrible communication. That 20 pounds I lost? I found it last year. (Maybe it’s time for my sixth 40 Days to Personal Revolution).
But the way I handle life now is different from how I handled it before I found this yoga program. I’ve learned to become the observer of circumstances, emotions and thoughts without getting lost in them (usually). I am now more able to see life from a place of self-compassion and equanimity, with the bravery to stop tuning out my Self.
In other words: I’m more awake.