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Science Experiment: How 7 Days of Yoga Will Change You

by Paula Hicks

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What is yoga to you?

That’s a pretty difficult question, isn’t it? No matter how hard you try to explain, it’s hard to find the exact words that express how you feel about this practice. 

But we can say one thing: to most practitioners, it’s not just about physical postures. It’s about moving from darkness to light, from unclarity to enhanced clarity. Yoga is about the change and the flow.

Yoga is becoming more and more popular, practiced both as a constant routine and as a yoga-focused vacation for a break of rhythm. This growing popularity seems to take place regardless of area of the world, or the age of the practitioners, and that’s a good thing. When we allow trends to distract us from its true purpose, however, it’s not a good thing.

So, we need to go back to the basics. Why did we start practicing yoga? Why did we continue? How did yoga change us? More importantly: how does yoga keep changing us?

You can understand by conducting a 7-day “science” experiment on yourself. Be prepared, because you’re about to start changing some subtle levels of your being.

How to Approach the Experiment

doing yoga in the sunset

Paul McKenna, a renowned hypnotist, has a theory that you can change your life in seven days. In his book (conveniently entitled Change Your Life in 7 Days), he suggests techniques that help you adopt the mindset of a high-achiever.

Why 7 days? – Because it’s not too much, and it’s not too little. Seven days are enough for you to develop the habit of a practice and make it part of your daily life.

So start practicing yoga through specific techniques that aim towards a change, and make that practice repetitive. By the end of the week, you’ll start experiencing the first signs of the change. Needless to say, it takes more work and a longer period of time for you to really transform. But change is continuous process that starts from the very moment you begin with the efforts. That’s why you feel like a new person after a week-long yoga retreat

These are the most important things to keep in mind:

​1. Keep a Journal

lotus pose on top if the mountain canyon

Journaling will be part of this journey, so get a notebook ready or start your private online journal that you’ll dedicate to the practice.

This is important, so don’t try to cheat.

It will be a very simple method. You’ll just write how you feel after each practice session. Let’s say your morning practice unlocked strange feelings and thoughts. You’ll write about them. Let’s say you fell on your nose when you tried Bakasana and that really scared you. You’ll write about that. Let’s say you experienced pure bliss and the meditative state carried on after you wrapped up with the practice. You’ll write about that.

There’s no specific theme or assignment. Just write how you feel! 

Paul Lions, yoga practitioner and writer for EssayWritingLand, explains how this method works: “Journaling keeps me aware of the process. I always get a unique feeling after my practice, and it stays with me for a certain period of time. If I don’t write about it, I forget about it. The journal keeps these moments fresh, and it stands as a witness to my progress.”

​2. Practice Asanas You Don’t Like

girl seen from behind yoga pose on the beach

Yoga makes us feel good, and that often takes us in the wrong direction - we try to make our practice as comfortable as possible, so we tend to avoid the poses that feel uncomfortable. If you cannot practice an asana because it’s contraindicated for a condition you have, then avoid or modify it by all means. If, however, you don’t include a certain asana just because you don’t like it, then it’s exactly the one you should be practicing.

3. Pranayama Is Important So Don’t Neglect It

tree pose in the sunset

Your breath is the connection between the inner and outer world. Ancient masters of yoga developed breathing techniques that train your mind to focus and calm your entire system.

It’s important to practice pranayama, but it’s also important to do it under guidance. If you don’t have experience in this area of yoga, it’s best to take it slow and find an experienced instructor to guide you on the journey. You’ll be working with prana – the vital life force within you, and that’s no joke.

​4. Meditate on Something You Want to Change

woman in gym suit practicing yoga

Your practice throughout these seven days won’t be limited to asana. You’ll introduce meditation into it. There’s a specific type of meditation you may try. We’ll call it the “meditation of change.”

Settle yourself in a comfortable seated position. Keep your hands in a mudra, close your eyes and focus on the breathing. When you calm down, think of something you’d want to change about yourself. Maybe it’s insecurity. Maybe it’s attachment. Choose a single thing and focus on it. See yourself in situations when you acted in a way you didn’t like. Don’t exaggerate, don’t judge, and don’t justify yourself. Just observe these images without getting attached.

Then, think about the way you’d like to change. Envision a reaction that’s opposite of the one you’d like to change. If you’re working on anger, for example, envision yourself as a kind person. If you’re working on insecurity, see yourself as a more confident person.

You’re not lying to yourself when doing this. You’re just shifting your mindset, convincing yourself that it’s possible to change.

When you continue to develop a habit out of this practice, you’ll become better at noticing your own flaws and you’ll consciously work towards personal growth.

What to Expect After the 7 Day Yoga Experiment

woman practicing yoga pose and smiling outdoors

The practice of yoga has undeniable effects on your physical wellbeing. Seven days of consistent practice are enough for you to start feeling better in your body. You will become slightly more flexible, and you’ll feel more comfortable in it.

Yoga also has immense mental benefits, and there’s no doubt about it. You feel them after each session. You feel how your mind is more relaxed and calmer. Science proves that for a fact!

Researchers from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Bethesda used MRI scans to show how the brain’s gray matter reacted to the regular practice of yoga. They found that certain areas of the gray matter became enlarged with more hours of practice per week!

Yoga has an effect over the areas of the brain responsible for directing attention and reducing stress. In addition, it enhances the activity in the visual cortex and enlarges the gray matter in the areas responsible for our concept of self.  

So you may expect not only a more flexible, but also a calmer and more focused you if you commit yourself to this 7-day experiment. Don’t wait for science to keep proving the beneficial effects of yoga, since you can become aware of them yourself. Be your own scientific experiment!

Whether you do it in the comfort of your home, you sign up for a course, or you book a retreat, it doesn’t matter. Just stop procrastinating! Get engaged in a consistent yoga practice and keep workings towards personal growth. 

Want to get into the tune of practicing yoga regularly but need a bit of guidance? A yoga retreat for beginners is just what you need to help you build your flow. 

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