I finished Michael Gannon’s 30-Day #Hashtanga Challenge today. During the month of September I made my way through the ashtanga primary series through 30(ish) Instagram videos. I have been practicing ashtanga (on and off) for about five years now and this challenge gave me some new energy around not only my ashtanga practice but my yoga practice as a whole.
In the last five months I found myself taking a step back from my yoga practice. I went from practicing as often as possible to being lucky to get one or two practices in a week…and sometimes going as long as 8-10 days between practices. This is the least I have practiced over an extended period years and years. This “break” was the product of several circumstances…work picking up, inability to carve out 2 hours of my day to get to the studio to practice, not wanting to go as “deep” as my yoga practice pushes me emotionally, running more, etc…but those are all excuses. If I wanted to practice, I would have made time for it. I just realized that I needed to take some space.
As I have shared before, I am constantly evaluating and honoring what feels good for both my body and my heart and as I gave myself permission to take space from yoga, running called me back. Over these five months that I’ve practiced yoga less, I’ve run more. And I’ve fallen deeply back in love with it…it’s never felt so good.
I all but gave up on running almost four years ago after finishing the Marine Corps Marathon and the Thunder Road Half Marathon. While happy to finish both of those races with PRs, I was tired of being injured and tired of running in general. I started yoga teacher training shortly after and the next few years became all about yoga, CrossFit and strength/circuit training with a little bit of running sprinkled in here and there. Taking a long break from running was one of the best decisions I ever made.
I fully credit spending the last four years making my body stronger, more balanced and more flexible with getting me back to where I am with running right now. Every time I roll out my yoga mat these days, I am deeply humbled by my practice. I have become much more aware of what the running and lifting is doing to my body. It’s honestly like working with a whole new body as I deeply feel all of the muscles that have helped me lift and run when I begin to practice, breathe and stretch.
I’m more intentional and focused about asking my body to open back up.
I’m learning to be much gentler with my body.
I’m learning to practice slowly and not need the hottest, fastest flow every time.
I’m learning to surrender.
For me, yoga and running go hand-in-hand. It’s a dance that has come together to make me so much stronger overall…both emotionally and physically. So while I’m focused on running right now in preparation for my November half marathon, I already have a longing to devote the winter months to my yoga practice.
If you would have told me when I lined up to run my first marathon in February of 2009 that just over five years later I would not only have a regular yoga practice and consider myself a “yogi” but that teaching yoga would be one of the greatest joys of my life, I would have never believed you. And now, I can’t imagine life without it. I have found a practice that heals my body. I have found a practice that supports all of the other ways I love to physically push myself. I have found a practice that has cracked my shell and opened me more than I ever thought possible. I have found a practice that is sustainable for a long, long time. I hope to still be Instagramming these yoga photos to y’all 50 years from now. 😉
In celebration, here’s the end of #hashtanga!
“Day 22 is garbha pindasana (womb embryo pose) and kukkutasana (rooster). When I first started practicing ashtanga I laughed when I got to these poses. You want me to do what!? It is hard to get your arm through for the bind in lotus. Sometimes we even use water spray bottles and lotion to make it happen. And then you have to roll around 9 times in the bind to signify the 9 months you spend in the womb. I can’t tell you how many times I have gotten stuck on the roll! I love that my yoga practice makes me do crazy things like this!”
“This is what happens when you try to make your #hashtanga video at 10 p.m. after wine and with a golden retriever helping. I give up!”
“Day 24 of #hashtanga is supta padangusthasana and urdhva mukha pascimottanasana. I have decided that I will just share the out takes of these videos from now on.”
“Day 25 of #hashtanga is setu bandhasana with a little chakrasana to chaturanga. It is the pose in primary series that requires the most amount of trust and fearlessness for me. Crossings arms over my chest is a big milestone for me here…I don’t think I have ever taken hands off the mat before today. On a positive note, I sure do love to back flip out of it!”
“Dropping back for day 26 of #hashtanga. My variation of urdhva dhanurasana. It’s okay to be afraid but after conquering fears and realizing how strong you are and how much you are capable of…it will never be the same.”
Day 27 and 28
“The end is near. Day 27 and 28 of #hashtanga brings the first poses of the finishing sequence. Salamba sarvangasana to halasana to karna pidasana to urdhva padmasasana to pindasana to matsyasana and uttana padasana. Get all that!?”
“Day 29 of #hashtanga is sirsasana. Today was my first practice in 8 days. With half marathon training combined with a busy work schedule, it’s been hard to find time. I made it a priority today and carved out 90 minutes for myself to take my favorite teacher’s class. It was just what my body, mind and heart needed. I am ready, energized and clear for the week ahead. A strong practice gave me the confidence to lift up into this variation of headstand with straight legs…there is a moment of faith and strength required when your toes leave the mat!”
“It’s the last day of the September #hashtanga challenge. Day 30 brings the final four postures of the finishing sequence: baddha padmasana, yoga mudra, padmasana, utputih and savasana. For many years I had a hard time relaxing my mind and body in savasana. These days I fall asleep in it more times than not. I am slowly learning to surrender…in many areas of life. Thank you to my yoga practice for starting the shift. I never in a million years thought I would ever have a regular yoga practice…much less teach it. I cannot imagine life without it now. Namaste.”
Catch up on all 30 days…
And the most important thing I learned through the challenge? More Sullie + yoga videos! 🙂
Thanks for following along everyone.