Get On That Yoga Grind.  

Need an excuse to get back into your yoga routine? Or the motivation to start doing yoga on the reg? Or some new, challenging poses to spice up your practice? Three words: Instagram. Yoga. Challenges. 

IG yoga challenges are my latest obsession, and while my boyfriend groans at the thought of me having an excuse to spend even more time on Insta than I already do, I credit these babies with a renewed love for my yoga practice. I’ve tried (and nailed!) so many poses that I would’ve never tried on my own. You know, those intimidating poses that the instructor in your yoga class offers with little to no guidance: “and if [insert crazy pose here] is in your practice, you can take that for a few breaths now.” Like I’m going to try side crow/bird of paradise/headstand/eight angle/flying pigeon for the first time, right here right now, when everyone can watch me face plant into my lulu lemon mat…no thank you.

However, IG yoga challenges (I’m on my fourth one now) allow you to push your boundaries and try these fun new postures in the privacy of your own home, saving the face plants for your boyfriend/roommate/cat. They’ll still love you. Promise. 

This month’s #BalanceBums challenge. Hosts will usually post modified versions of tougher poses, too.

How it works: follow some of the yoga greats on Insta (a few of my personal faves are @jennifermartinyoga @robinmartinyoga @rebekahletch @yogagrams @beachyogagirl @kellymarie_yoga). Keep your eyes peeled for challenges- different yogis will host them and announce daily poses, along with tips and tutorials for each. Follow along and practice the poses each day, posting your attempt on IG with the challenge hashtag, tagging all hosts and any sponsors (automatically entering yourself for amazing yogi prizes, too- who doesn’t love prizes?). You’ll be inspired by all of the other participants’ posts with the hashtags, and you’ll impress yourself with your progress!

Taking one pose at a time and making it a daily focus is huge. Don’t get me wrong- you’ll definitely fall on your face and make a fool of yourself as well (stay tuned for a post of my yoga bloopers), but it’s worth it for that moment in class when your instructor says, “and if [insert crazy pose here] is in your practice, you can take that for a few breaths now,” and you nail it, sans public face plant. 

My eight angle pose for #BalanceBums day 5. I had never been able to get this one before this challenge!

Why YOU Can Call Yourself a Runner 

It takes a lot for people to qualify themselves as runners. Why, I don’t really know…It’s like the term runner only applies to the elusive human wonders who can run 2-hour marathons. At 5 am. Every day. With ease. And six pack abs.

I, however, have finally allowed myself to be considered a runner. What qualifies me? I run. Simple as that. Not always consistently. Not always long distances. Definitely not always with ease or grace [have you seen Phoebe from Friends run? ]. But I make time for running and use it to set goals and help myself progress in my mental and physical health. So yes, I am a runner. 

I first committed to my running journey in April of 2013, after I had a horribly embarrassing first game on my new social kickball league. Sparknotes version: on my way to first base, I spun to avoid being tagged out and ended up skidding through the dirt, facing the opposite direction I had intended. Lucky ol’ me then got to spend post-kickball social hour at the bar with scrapes up my back and pants chock-full of mulch. Let’s just say this was the final “Jackie, you’re never going to be cut out for team sports” straw. And that night, I signed up for my first half marathon.

While yes, running is a solo event and it doesn’t require hand-eye coordination or team communication, it certainly comes with its own struggles. However, I’ve managed to tackle them and go from a girl who only runs a mile for the state test in gym class (and at a glacial pace, at that), to a girl who runs for *gasp* fun and adventure and well-being. I’ve worked up from 1 mile to 26.2 (actually 27.2 according to my running app, but who’s counting), squashing self-doubt and impressing myself every step of the way. And now, yes, I proudly call myself a runner. And if I can be a runner, so can you.

I’d love to hear your stories! What made you decide to become a runner? Post your stories & motivation in the comments below.  🙂