Q&A: Sweat and Soul Yoga’s 30 Day Challenge Winner
We’ve written about different types of yoga (hip hop yoga, paddleboard yoga, AcroYoga, therapy yoga, and naked yoga), and have reported on research about yoga’s benefits. Just one yoga class per week can help lessen back pain, and relaxation techniques might even change your genes. But how much yoga is too much yoga? Can the benefits of yoga ever run out?
To answer this question, we talked to Matt Rutkowski, a 31-year-old from Boston who was the winner of Sweat and Soul Yoga’s recent “30 Day Challenge”. The goal is to practice yoga 30 times that month, and the yogi who attends the most classes wins prizes like expensive yoga mats, but mostly some major respect from his or her fellow yogis. Rutkowski, a music student and employee at the Perkins School for the Blind, won the challenge by practicing yoga 45 times in 30 days during the month of June. We checked in with him about what it’s like to practice yoga daily (and sometimes twice daily) for a whole month.
What was your yoga background before you completed the challenge?
I have practiced yoga for almost three years at this point, and I’ve taught for almost one. I have been a SASY dude for a couple of months now. The majority of my practice has been in the vinyasa vein, but I’ve dabbled here and there with other types of yoga. I was going to SASY five times a week anyway when I heard about this challenge, so I was pumped when they offered a month long unlimited pass. Save a little money and practice with some of Boston’s best teachers? Yes, please.
Did you improve after all that yoga?
Physically, I’ve toned up and shed my winter “insulation”. Mentally, I’ve felt a huge amount of fun being added into my yoga practices, and doing this challenge has helped me to continue to step on the mat with a sense of curiosity and playfulness each and every time. As for the poses, I love me some arm balances and absolutely learned a ton of different variations to play with during the month of June. Getting to know so many people who call that sweaty little red room at Sweat and Soul their sanctuary, their gym, and their inspiration was also awesome, and the hoodie I managed to take home is pretty cool, too. The hardest part was making myself not practice the physical side of yoga every day so I didn’t tire myself out. I also started to pick up on any slacker habits that I may sometimes go to.
Do you think the benefits of yoga increase as you practice more frequently?
Your body definitely gets tired as you up the frequency of yoga, but hopefully you reap the benefits of learning to listen to your body. I learned when to push myself and when to tone down the intensity. My body got tired from all of the extra yoga, but practicing more often made my mind more alert. It made me much better at being anchored to the present moment.
What was it like to do two 90-minute classes in one day?
It was great! Luckily, a week of the challenge was during my vacation from work and school. So I got to practice yoga once in the morning, go read, play my guitar, watch Netflix, and then grab a coffee, come back, and rock out another practice. Or, if I was tired, I just laid on my mat and breathed during the second class. If you’ve never tried doing a little yoga in the morning and a little at night, I highly recommend it. I felt great.
Do you have a favorite yoga pose?
It changes from day to day, honestly. Twists are always fun, and arm balances are another go to of mine. A good headstand can really invigorate my practice, too. But after a month of so much yoga, I found that what I like most is not knowing what the next pose is going to be. That keeps me present!
What are you up to now that the challenge is over?
I still practice yoga each and every day. Most days I’m at Sweat and Soul, but I like to hop around to other studios, too. Boston gives NYC and L.A. a run for their money in terms of an amazing yoga community, I think. I also love playing guitar, reading, and spending time with my girl.