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The End of Hashtanga + The Yoga & Running Dance

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

“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!”

Day 23

“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

“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

“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!”

Day 26

“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

“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!”

Day 30

“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…

Week 1
Week 2
Week 3

And the most important thing I learned through the challenge? More Sullie + yoga videos! 🙂

Thanks for following along everyone.

{ 27 comments… add one }
  • 1
    Hillary | Nutrition Nut on the Run September 30, 2014, 4:30 pm

    That is such a pretty (and sweaty) pic of you running! Your skin is FLAWLESS.

    • 2
      Jen October 1, 2014, 10:10 am

      thanks girl! 🙂

  • 3
    Dana September 30, 2014, 4:41 pm

    It’s been really interesting to see these videos since I’m not at all familiar with that type of yoga. Though I have to admit, seeing those poses my body’s reaction is usually “Ouch!” or “You’ve got to be kidding me, is she related to Gumby?” Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • 4
      Jen October 1, 2014, 10:09 am

      ashtanga is a very physical practice and does include a lot of binding and twisting but i love it! it’s a very old practice and i love that people all over the world practice this same series daily.

  • 5
    Carrie (This Fit Chick) September 30, 2014, 5:42 pm

    you are seriously so impressive! these photos are incredible!

    • 6
      Jen October 1, 2014, 10:09 am

      thanks carrie! 🙂

  • 7
    Allyssa September 30, 2014, 8:18 pm

    wow…that is all I can say!

    • 8
      Jen October 1, 2014, 10:08 am

      thank you allyssa!

  • 9
    Virginia September 30, 2014, 10:53 pm

    Love, love, love this and you!! So grateful for you as a yoga teacher and running partner!

    • 10
      Jen October 1, 2014, 10:08 am

      virginia – you are a light in my life. i have been honored to get to know you this year! xo

  • 11
    Jenn@Mark My Miles! October 1, 2014, 4:57 am

    I keep saying it, but I need to do more yoga. I crave that balance you describe. Could you let me know where a beginner should start?

    • 12
      Jen October 1, 2014, 10:08 am

      yes! do you have yoga studios where you live? i always recommend going to a studio and taking a class from a live instructor if possible instead of trying to learn from a video. the experience is so different. also, keep in mind that you may have to try several studios/teachers to find a style and energy that works best for you and your needs. most studios offer beginner classes and while those are great, it’s also good sometimes just to jump in and try a normal class. i’ll write a post about this! i get asked a lot!

  • 13
    Nicole October 1, 2014, 6:27 am

    I love browsing through the yoga instagram challenge photos and videos! They are very inspiring. You are very talented as well 🙂 I am a new yoga instructor and am still working on many of these arm balances and inversions, but I am very determined to get them down 🙂 Good job!

    • 14
      Jen October 1, 2014, 10:06 am

      they are so fun to play with and learn. love arm balancing and inversions! 🙂

  • 15
    Kim Daniels October 1, 2014, 7:50 am

    What organization did you go through for your yoga certification? I am a group ex certified through ACE, but I would really love to really study yoga and get properly certified to teach it. Thanks!

    • 16
      Jen October 1, 2014, 10:05 am

      hi kim – i participated in a 200 hour teacher training through a registered yoga school and then got my 200-hour registered yoga teacher certification through yoga alliance. that is hands down the way to go if you are looking to teach yoga. https://www.yogaalliance.org/

  • 17
    Julie @ Running in a Skirt October 1, 2014, 8:10 am

    Amazing! I am so inspired by your videos. I also feel yoga and running belong together. It’s crazy how much they work together for being so different.

    • 18
      Jen October 1, 2014, 10:03 am

      thanks julie. and i agree, for being so different they certainly do compliment each other.

  • 19
    Pam October 1, 2014, 8:54 am

    One word, BEAUTIFUL!

    • 20
      Jen October 1, 2014, 9:58 am

      thank you pam! xo

  • 21
    Grace October 1, 2014, 2:31 pm

    Hi Jen,

    I am moving to Charlotte in the next couple of months…what studios do you teach at?

    • 22
      Jen October 2, 2014, 11:22 am

      sending you an email!

  • 23
    Amber October 1, 2014, 5:06 pm

    Love this post! I strictly ran and did yoga for many years but in the last year I’ve really picked up and increased my strength training. It’s amazing that I can run way less, but still feel just as good as I did a year ago in races. I just did a 21 km trail race this past weekend with much less RUNNING training under my belt but I felt just as good as I have in past races and I credit that to the strength training!

    I think you have a beautiful balance between yoga, running and strength training and it’s one of the reasons I love following your blog so much!

  • 24
    Katharine McMahon October 1, 2014, 9:56 pm

    I love the puppy video 🙂

  • 25
    Nicole October 4, 2014, 6:47 pm

    I’ve really enjoyed your hashtanga challenge, you are such a talented yogi!! Your blog was one of the things that inspired me to practice yoga as well, now I can’t imagine life without it. Beautiful and inspiring post!

  • 26
    Alyssa October 29, 2014, 11:24 pm

    I thought I was the only one dealing with a yoga rut recently! I need to make time for it like you!

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