30 Day Business Blogging Challenge Recap & Coming Up With Blog Topics

Over the past several weeks, I’ve been doing a 30 day business blogging challenge, and today is the last day! You may have noticed that, despite only having a day left in it, I haven’t posted in a couple of weeks. That’s mostly due to going on a few trips, which I’ll be writing about on my other blog, Embracing Adventure. I recently started up a second round of the challenge for that blog as well, and you can find a recap of the first several days here. If you want to know more about the blogging challenge itself, please see this post I wrote at the end of my first round on Embracing Adventure.

Today, in addition to sharing the full list of challenge posts for anyone who may have missed them, I want to return to a topic I was asked to write on during the challenge and hadn’t yet: how I come up with blog topics. I posted about this on my other blog as well. While I have several sources of inspiration for that blog, I also have a luxury I don’t with this blog: I can write about anything related to my life. Although there have been times with that blog I haven’t had time to write, I have never had times where I couldn’t either pull from a stash of drafts and ideas or come up with a new one.

Coming up with blog topics for this Investing in Fitness isn’t quite as easy because this blog is more limited in focus. As the name implies, this is primarily a fitness blog. Although fitness isn’t the only topic I can write about, I do feel that I should at least stick to related topics such as nutrition, health, and improving wellbeing. Most of my blog topic ideas for this blog have come from thinking about five things:

Insanity Before and After Photo

Insanity before and after. Click to read about my ending statistics and how they compared to where I began.

Perhaps the easiest way to get source material for this blog has simply been documenting my own fitness journey. I originally started the blog to document my experience with Insanity and decided to keep going. Unfortunately after that, I tended to be haphazard in my record-keeping and often scribbled notes after workouts that I misplaced or couldn’t read. However, after recommitting to documenting my journey, I’ve been keeping my notes in computer files, which has been working out better. During the challenge, I finished sharing my first experience with Les Mills Combat, dance workouts found on YouTube, and recapped some of the yoga challenges I’ve participated in. I still have a few more yoga challenge recaps to share. Soon I’ll also share my experience with Les Mills Pump, which I’m a little over a month into.

2. My Health-Related Experiences

I have had a few health problems in my life and like to share what I know about recognizing warning signs, minimizing one’s risk of developing said health problems, and living with those particular problems. I was diagnosed with melanoma at the age of 20. Since there is a family history of it, I knew what to look for and was able to catch it early. A decade later, I must still regularly check my skin for signs of and reduce my risk of a recurrence. I’ve written about risk factors for melanoma in one post and warning signs of melanoma, my experience with melanoma, and ways to reduce your risk of melanoma in another. Since I also was diagnosed with hypertension at a relatively young age, which there is also a family history of, I’ll soon write about recognizing signs for and managing high blood pressure. In the mean time, those interested may want to read this post on Embracing Adventure about getting screened at the Army Wellness Center and being treated for hypertension. While living in Germany where there isn’t an abundance of sunny days, I have also developed a Vitamin D deficiency, so I’ll share about that and ways to get Vitamin D without increasing your risk for melanoma soon.

3: What I Want to Know 

There are a lot of things I wonder about, and if I’m wondering about them, I figure other people might be too. I like to eat sushi. I had heard that it’s good for you, but I didn’t really know why. So, I decided to look up some facts about why sushi is healthy. Afterward, I wrote this post sharing some of the facts I’d learned. Once I started doing yoga challenges, I realized how many yoga styles there are and wanted to learn more about them. I wrote this post sharing some information about a few of the yoga methods I’d read about. Someone once told me that I should work out when tired instead of taking a nap. Although it sounds counterintuitive, it does work. I looked into why and shared that in this post. In the near future, I’ll begin a personal trainer certification course, as well several specialization courses, through NASM. I expect what I learn in those courses and the questions generated by what I learn will inspire many future blog posts.

4. What Has Helped Me

If something has helped me, there’s a chance it will help others as well. One thing I’ve done, which I have heard has helped others since I passed it on, is doing the ABC’s of Gratitude: listing one thing to be grateful about for every letter of the alphabet. Going on a walk one day while my car was broken down got me thinking about what motivates me to walk, so I decided to share some of them, which can also be applied to running. For awhile, I only drank water if it was flavored or cold, and I didn’t drink enough of it. Now I can drink it plain at any temperature, so I shared some things I’ve done to get enough water daily.

5. What I’ve Read

During this challenge, I read an infographic about stress in students. I shared it with some thoughts on getting enough sleep, reducing stress through exercise, and eating healthy when stressed. Previously, I shared some of the fitness tip articles I had recently read and will probably share another one soon. I also shared a brief book review of the Real Food Therapy Guide. Now that I have graduated grad school and have more free time for reading, I plan to read more fitness and nutrition books and to share my impressions of them here. I also have a Books & Authors section on Embracing Adventure where I’ll be sharing some of the other books I read.

How do you come up with blog topics? Have a favorite topic I’ve written about or one you’d like me to write about? Let me know in the comments below.

If you missed any of the blog challenge posts, you can find them all below, and if you want to join the challenge yourself, you can do so here. Be sure you never miss another Investing in Fitness post by entering your email address in the box to the right. Best wishes on your fitness journey!

30 Day Blogging Challenge Posts

Day 1: Learn the Signs of Melanoma and Ways to Help Reduce Your Risk

Day 2: Create Your Own Home Workout With Zumba Videos on YouTube

Day 3: Are You at Risk for Malignant Melanoma?

Day 4: Les Mills Combat Week 6 Supreme Warrior

Day 5: 5 Songs to Chase Your Worries Away

Day 6: Investing in Fitness by Dancing With ClubFitz Videos

Day 7: Challenge Yourself to the ABC’s of Gratitude

Day 8: 5 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Walk or Run

Day 9: Staying Hydrated: 5 Tips to Help You Drink Enough Water Daily

Day 10: Les Mills Combat Week 7 Supreme Warrior

Day 11: 5 Fit Facts That May Make You Want to Eat Sushi

Day 12: Join the JunieBeYou Daily Yoga Challenge

Day 13:Join the JuneOYourChakras Yoga Challenge

Day 14: Get Creative with Yoga BecauseYogiSays

Day 15: It’s Not Too Late to Join the YogaGivesBackChallenge

Day 16: Les Mills Combat Supreme Warrior Wrap-up Plus Beachbody Summer Sale

Day 17: Light on the Masters 8 Day Yoga Challenge

Day 18: Choosing a Yoga Method

Day 19: JunieBeYou Yoga Challenge Week 1 Recap

Day 20: Yoga Gives Back Challenge Poses 1-10

Day 21: Combating Stress for College Students

Day 22: Workout Wednesday Link Up With Investing in Fitness

Day 23: JunieBeYou Yoga Challenge Recap

Day 24: Want a Nap? Try Working Out to Increase Your Energy Level Instead

Dat 25: BecauseYogiSays Yoga Challenge Recap

Day 26: YogaGivesBackChallenge Poses 11-20

Day 27: YogaGivesBackChallenge Poses 21-30

Day 28: LightOnTheMasters Yoga Challenge Recap

Day 29: Introducing Shaun T’s CIZE (With a Chance to Win a Free Copy)

Day 30 was this post. Thank you for reading!

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LightontheMasters Yoga Challenge Recap

LightOnTheMasters was an 8-day yoga challenge on Instagram during which the hosts @twincities_yogi (Stacy) ,@lightfulyogini (Sara), @minnesotayogini (Lacey), and @yogasassygee (Cassie) took turns featuring a different master and lineage per day with information on each. Although the hosts offered options for poses, participants were free to choose any pose they felt best honored the master or lineage.

Day 1: Iyengar Yoga–BKS Iyengar

According to Lacey, Iyengar yoga, founded by BKS Iyengar, “is a form of Hatha yoga that places an emphasis on detail, precision, and alignment in the performance of asana (postures) and branayama (breath control)”. Iyengar yoga is “firmly based on the 8 traditional limbs of yoga” and “often makes use of props to aid in performing a posture in the correct alignment”. According to a BBC article, BKS Iyengar passed away last year at the age of 95. The year prior to that, he is reported to have said “When I still find some parts of my body that I have not found before, I tell myself, yes I am progressing scientifically… I don’t stretch my body as if it is an object. I do yoga from the self towards the body, not the other way around.” To honor this master and lineage I picked Urdhva Mukha Janu Sirsasana using a yoga strap.

Iyengar Yoga Urdhva Mukha Janu Sirsasana for LightOntheMasters Yoga Challenge

Day 2: Yin Yoga–Paulie Zink

Cassie said that Yin Yoga, sometimes called Taoist yoga, typically requires poses to be held for 3-5 minutes “which gives your muscles time to ‘let go'”. A full sequence of this type of yoga has the aim of stimulating meridians in the body. Improved flow in these meridians “helps organ health, immunity, and emotional wellbeing”. The goal of Yin Yoga, she says “is to get your body to feel as soft, strong, and as flowing as water”. This form of yoga was created by Paulie Zink, whom Cassie says is an internationally acclaimed marital arts grand champion and Chi Kung expert who has been entered into four martial arts halls of fame. She says that Zink learned Yin Yoga as a foundation of his martial arts and studied for 7 years before developing his own style of Yin, which is the style practiced today.

The poses in yin are named differently than in many other yoga styles. To honor this tradition I tried caterpillar using a pillow as a bolster. I had seen pictures of people doing this pose and thought it looked comfy. It wasn’t, and I didn’t hold it for 5 minutes, or even 3. I probably would have been happier trying dragonfly with a pillow. I had thought this pose might have been more comfortable with some back stretches preceding it, but Cassie said that “actually Yin is classically practiced cold…and it’s definitely not a comfortable style of yoga, but yoga is all about us just slightly pushing our comfort zones right?” In as much as this is true, I wish I had realized ahead of time this would be less comfortable. I am wondering since I had read before that Yin and Restorative are sometimes used interchangeably, if this is why I had expected it to be comfortable. I did try Restorative yoga on Day 5.


Yin Yoga Caterpillar for LightOntheMasters Yoga Challenge

Day 3: Jivamukti–Sharon Gannon & David Life

Jivamukti was created by David Life and Sharon Gannon. According to Stacy, the name of the style means “liberation while living”, which I love. There are 5 main tenets to this practice: Shastra (scripture), Bhakti (devotion), Ahimsa (Kindness), Nada (music) and Dhyana (meditation). Stacy mentions that Ahimsa can also be interpreted as “nonharming” and Nada as “deep inner listening”. You can learn more about the philosophy from JivamuktiYoga.comI don’t know a lot about this yoga method but am so far feeling drawn to learn more about it. 

To honor this master/lineage I picked hero pose which an article on Do You Yoga said is “effective in bringing relief to tired legs”. Since my legs were sore from doing several minutes of continuous barbell squats during Les Mills Pump’s Pump and Burn workout, this was a good choice of pose. They did feel better following a few repetitions of this pose. I also did a pose from Jivamukti for Day 7 of BecauseYogiSays.

Jivamukti Hero Pose for LightOnTheMasters Yoga Challenge

Day 4: Ashtanga–Shri K Pattabhi Jois

Ashtanga, which was created by Pattabhi Jois means “eight limbs”, referring to the eight limbs of Pantajali’s yoga sutras, which Sara explains as: Yamas (moral codes), Niyama (self-purification), Asana (pose), Pranayama (breath control), Pratyahara (sense control), Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation), and Samadhi (total peace). According to Sara, the three main things that distinguish Ashtanga from other methods are Pranayama (the breath), the Bandhas (energetic locks), and Drishti (fixed gaze), which “work together to steady the mind and contain energy”. Another distinguishing factor is that Ashtanga is a set series of postures which increase in difficulty and are meant to be practiced on one’s own. Even in Mysore style, in which an Ashtanga practitioner is with other practitioners, each person practices his or her own sequence of postures, gradually being given more by a teacher when the teacher feels the student is ready. I’ve had the most exposure to the principles of this form of yoga since it is the form practiced by many of the hosts of the yoga challenges I’ve been doing.

The pose I chose to honor this master/lineage was Samasthiti or Equal Standing Pose, which other yoga methods may refer to as Tadasana or Mountain Pose. I chose this posture because it is a foundational pose and begins Surya Namaskara, or the Sun Salutation, which is performed at the beginning of Ashtanga yoga practice. I had been up for almost 24 hours at this point, trying to reset my sleep schedule, so I didn’t do the actual Sun Salutation.

Ashtanga Samasthiti or Equal Standing Pose or Tadasana or Mountain Pose for LightOnTheMasters Yoga Challenge

Day 5: Restorative Yoga–Judith Lasater

This form of yoga is more what I was expecting when I had tried Yin Yoga. I had read that people often use the two yoga terms interchangeably, and while there are similarities, I have found that the two approaches are different. While Yin Yoga looks like it might be comfortable, it’s not, while Restorative Yoga is meant to be comfortable and utilizes props to help the muscles relax. According to Lacey, Restorative Yoga can help one achieve deep relaxation and calm the mind. This form of yoga was popularized by Judith Lasater, whom Lacey says was a student of BKS Iyengar. Lacey said that Judith became interested in this form of yoga after her twin brother died and she needed to sit and rest. Judith found that lying on the floor for 20 minutes a day and letting go is life changing.

To honor this master/lineage, I chose child’s pose or balasana. This has long been a favorite relaxing pose of mine, so I was excited to try it with a pillow under me as I had seen done in pictures of restorative poses. It was blissful. Since I had been up so long, it was hard not to fall asleep on my mat. Sometimes we all need to recharge and give our bodies and minds a break. While I don’t know that I would do this type of yoga daily, I can definitely see incorporating more of it into my life and recommending it to others.Restorative Yoga Child's Pose With a Pillow for LightOntheMastersYoga Challenge

Day 6: Kundalini–Yogi Bhajan

According to Cassie, Yogi Bhajan created Kundalini (the name of which means “primal energy”) by combining Brahmachari’s teachings with Tantric theories and Virsa Singh’s mantras. Thus, “Kundalini combines meditation, mantra, physical postures, and breathing techniques”. Cassie says, “We awaken kundalini to be able to call on the full potential of the nervous and glandular systems and to balance the subtle system of chakras and meridians in the body.” The six major parts of a Kundalini Yoga class are tuning in with the Adi Mantra, Pranayam (warmup), Kriya (postures), Relaxation, Meditation, and closing with the Blessing Song.

Kundalini is traditionally practiced wearing white. Apparently this is part of auric color therapy and is said to extend the aura. Yogi Bhajan is quoted as saying, “We ask you to wear white so that you will reflect what is outside and go within yourself–that’s what white clothes can do for you”. If you want a more complicated expansion on white clothes as related to auras, follow the preceding link. The kriya I chose for this lineage was Life Nerve Stretch, which starts with spreading the legs and grabbing the toes, then stretching toward each leg before stretching toward the middle. In other yoga styles this pose may be called Wide Angle Seated Forward Bend or Upavistha Konasana.

Kundalini Life Nerve Stretch or Wide Angle Seated Forward Bend or Upavistha Konasana for LightOnTheMasters

Day 7: Para Yoga–Rod Stryker

This form of yoga was created by Rod Stryker, whom Stacy said earned the title of Yogiraj or “master of yoga” after studying under Kavi Yogiraj Mani Finger and his son Yogiraj Alan Finger. According to Stacy, this yoga style, the name of which means “supreme, highest, ancient”, has the cultural values of: self mastery, empowerment, guardianship, compassion, and love of life. In a Para Yoga class, all aspects of yoga are combined in one class (Asana, Breath, Bandha, Mudra, Visualization, Chanting, Kriya, and Kundalini). According to the About page of ParaYoga.com, in this approach the asana “is used as a technique to balance the main forces that sustain the mind and body”. The pose I chose for this master and lineage was Navasana or Boat Pose, which GaiamTV says improves balance, develops focus and concentration, and improves digestion while strengthening the hips, thighs, and abdominal muscles.

Para Yoga Navasana or Boat Pose for LightOnTheMasters Yoga Challenge

Day 8: Baptiste–Baron Baptiste

This form of yoga was founded by Walt Baptiste and further developed by his son, Baron Baptiste. According to Sara, Baron produced “his own challenging heat-based vinyasa flow” by combining the styles of Raja, Ashtanga, Iyengar, and Bikram and has said “my style is 20 percent mechanics and 80 percent spiritual psychology. My style is based on being safe and opening the body from a place that is protecting the joint system. I do a lot of creative sequencing, and I teach people my philosophy, ‘to thine own self be true’. You know intuitively what is right for your body.” Sara got the opportunity to practice with Baron Baptiste. You can read a little about there experience at the preceding link. The pose I chose for this master and lineage was Salabhasana or Locust Pose. I got photobombed by my dogs. If you want to, you can see more of them on @phoenixxphyre.

As I had mentioned in my post on choosing a yoga method, I only recently learned there were many different yoga methods, so I appreciated the opportunity this challenge provided to learn more about some of the ones I’d heard of before as well as a few more. Although there are parts of all of them that seem interesting, the ones I am feeling most drawn to learning more about at the moment are Jivamukti, Ashtanga, and Restorative.

Do you have a favorite of these yoga methods? Let me know in the comments below! 

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YogaGivesBackChallenge Poses 21-30


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Last time, I shared the second third of the poses from the YogaGivesBackChallenge, which was a 30-day yoga challenge and charity challenge on Instagram. Today I’ll be sharing the final third of the poses. During this yoga challenge, the number of posts determined the donation amount that sponsor @aloyoga and possibly the hosts  @beachyogagirl (Kerri Verna) and @kinoyoga (Kino MacGregor), would make to @yogagivesback, a nonprofit focused on raising awareness and funds to alleviate poverty in India

At the end of the challenge, Kino reported that there were over 91,000, which was enough for Alo Yoga to donate $1000 to Yoga Gives Back. Although it was originally planned that Alo Yoga would donate $2500 for 100,000 posts and the hosts would donate $2500 at 150,000, Kino said “since it was so close and we are so touched by your poses and participation” she and Kerri would match the donation for a total of $2000 which “will fund micro-loans to women entrepreneurs and keep children in school in India”.

Pose 21: Baddha Hasta Sirsasana B or Bound Hands Headstand B

According to Kerri, “if you have a solid handstand practice” this pose “isn’t as hard as it looks”. I’m not to the point of being able to do a headstand yet, and Salamba Sirsasana or Supported Headstand was the pose for that day’s JuneOYourChakras (which I’ll be telling you about soon), I considered this my attempt for both. I didn’t get a full headstand, but did get a little lift.

Pose 21: Baddha Hasta Sirsasana B or Bound Hands Headstand B for YogaGivesBackChallenge

Pose 22: Mayurasana or Peacock Pose 

Kino said, “This was one of the hardest poses for me to even begin to make sense of in my practice”. Even with her instructions that followed this statement, I found it difficult as well. I couldn’t balance my whole body weight. I was able to lift one foot, but not both.

Pose 22: Mayurasana or Peacock Pose for YogaGivesBackChallengePose 23: Bharadvajasana or Bharadvaja’s Twist

I was able to get this pose pretty easily following Kino’s example, although I think it would have been a little easier if I had worn different pants. For those who might wonder, the shirt is a Firefly shirt that says Keep Calm and Stay Shiny.

Pose 23: Bharadvajasana or Bharadvaja's Twist for YogaGivesBackChallenge

Pose 24: Kurmasana or Tortoise Pose

Kerri said to feel free to bend the legs for this pose, which I found I had to do. I think my minpin was a little concerned about me being in this position, which I found a little difficult to comfortably get back out of. You can see more of my minpin on @phoenixxphyre and he makes an occasional appearance on Embracing Adventure.

Pose 24: Kurmasana or Tortoise Pose for YogaGivesBackChallenge

Pose 25: Baddha Hasta Sirsasana D Bound Hand Headstand D

According to Kino, this headstand variation is in the Ashtanga Yoga Second Series. I am still working on being able to do a headstand, so I certainly wouldn’t be able to do it with my hands behind my back. So, here’s another prep pose for a bound hands headstand. I didn’t get a full headstand, but I did get a little lift again.

Pose 25: Baddha Hasta Sirsasana Bound Hand Headstand for YogaGivesBackChallenge

Pose 26: Urdhva Mukha Paschimattanasana or Upward Facing Intense West Stretch

I’m definitely not able to fold my legs up as high as Kino or reach my feet, but I was able to straighten my legs and grab my ankles.

Pose 27: Eka Pada Sirsasana or One Foot Behind Head Pose

Years ago, I was able to get a leg behind my head. Apparently I am nowhere near that flexible anymore, so I did the pose that Kino did right before putting her leg behind her head. I’m not sure if there is a separate name for that or not.

Pose 27: Prep pose for Eka Pada Sirsasana or One Foot Behind Head Pose

Pose 28: Vrschikasana or Scorpion Handstand

Kino suggested that if unable to do a scorpion headstand to try it from a forearm balance. I can’t do a forearm balance either, so I decided to do a prep pose closer to Dolphin Pose, which was suggested in a YouTube video by Ekhart Yoga on how to get into a forearm balance.

Pose 28: Prep pose for Forearm Balance for Vrschikasana or Scorpion Handstand

Pose 29: Pincha Mayurasana or Feathered Peacock Pose

I’m not able to do regular peacock pose, much less the feathered one, so instead for this pose I kept going with the forearm balance prep with a lifted leg. According to Kino, “It never matters whether or not you do a pose. What matters is the journey that the experience of the practice takes you on.”

Pose 29: Forearm Balance Prep for Pincha Mayurasana or Feathered Peacock Pose

Pose 30: Mukta Hasta Sirsasana C or Free Hands Headstand C

Since I’m unable to do a regular headstand, I was not able to do a free hands one, so I kept going with the forearm balance prep, this time getting the second foot in the air. I’m sure you can tell by the blurriness that it was not for long.

Pose 30: Forearm Balance Prep for Mukta Hasta Sirsasana C or Free Hands Headstand C

Although I was not able to do the full expressions of any of the final third of the poses, and in some cases could not come anywhere close, I did make the attempt. Kino acknowledged in her final post of the challenge, “this month has presented some challenging asanas that take a lifetime to really practice”. There is always time to keep improving, but at least I know what my starting point is. I’m currently participating in the BacktoBackBends Challenge with the same hosts. You can follow my progress with that on @investinginfitness.

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YogaGivesBackChallenge Poses 11-20


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The YogaGivesBackChallenge was a 30-day yoga challenge on Instagram. It was also a charity challenge in which the number of images hashtagged #yogagivesbackchallenge by the end of the challenge determined the donation amount from one of the sponsors (@aloyoga) to the other (@yogagivesback, a nonprofit focused on raising awareness and funds to alleviate poverty in India). There was also a possibility of a donation from the hosts @beachyogagirl and @kinoyoga.

According to Kino, there were over 91,000 posts by the end of the challenge, which met the goal for Alo Yoga to donate $1000 to Yoga Gives Back. While the original setup was that Alo Yoga would donate $2500 for 100,000 posts and the hosts would donate $2500 at 150,000, Kino said “since it was so close and we are so touched by your poses and participation” she and Kerri would match the donation for a total of $2000 which “will fund micro-loans to women entrepreneurs and keep children in school in India”.

Previously I shared the first ten poses from the challenge. Today I’ll share the next ten poses from the challenge, some information about them, and a bit about my experience with them.

Pose 11: Nakrasana or Crocodile Pose 

This pose was supposed to be done with Chaturanga jumps, which you can see performed by Kino here. My middle sank too low attempting Nakrasana to begin with, so there was no way I could do jumps from it. So, I modified it with my arms higher. I had done Les Mills Pump’s Pump & Burn earlier in the day, so I’m not sure if I was just tired from that or if I’m not strong enough yet, but even with the modification I wasn’t very successful at the hopping part.


Pose 11: Nakrasana or Crocodile Pose for YogaGivesBackChallenge

Pose 12: Mukta Hasta Sirsasana A or Tripod Headstand 

I attempted this pose the same way that Kino did it, which at least let me get my legs in the air, but I came back down quickly in the same direction my legs were traveling and ran into the plastic tote in front of me, effectively making my attempt more like an elongated somersault than a headstand.

Pose 12: Mukta Hasta Sirsasana A or Tripod Headstand for YogaGivesBackChallenge

Pose 13: Urdhva Dhanurasana or Wheel Pose

Although I can’t drop back into the pose like Kerri, I can almost reach it starting from the floor and pushing up. Hopefully with practice I can get my head off the floor and eventually be able to reach the pose by dropping back into it.
Pose 13: Urdhva Dhanurasana or Wheel Pose for YogaGivesBackChallenge

Pose 14: Marichyasana C or Marichi’s Pose C or Sage’s Pose C

Kino says that this seated twist “is a powerful tool to cleanse the inner body”. The first time I was presented with a twist requiring reaching around like this, which was Pasasana or Noose Pose earlier in this challenge, I wasn’t able to get it, but this time it was not difficult. I technically should have had the unbent leg out straighter with my foot pointed up though.
Pose 14: Marichyasana C or Marichi's Pose C or Sage's Pose C for the YogaGivesBackChallenge

Pose 15: Laghu Vajrasana or the Little Thunderbolt

Kerri calls this pose “quad burner“. Although the full expression of the pose takes the head to the floor, she recommends only going as far as one can while still being able to come back up using the quads, so that’s what I did. I thought I would manage to get further with all the squats I do with Les Mills Pump, but maybe they were tired from that. Side notes: Weird things tend to happen with my hair during yoga poses, and this one was no exception. For those interested, the hanzi on my shirt is for Firefly, which is from the show of the same name.

Pose 15: Laghu Vajrasana or the Little Thunderbolt for YogaGivesBackChallenge

Pose: 16 Shalabhasana Locust Pose

This pose reminds me of some of the swimming moves from Insanity: The Asylum. According to Kerri, this is a “great posture for strengthening the QL, triceps, core, gluteus, and hamstrings”. I believe it!

Pose: 16 Shalabhasana Locust Pose for YogaGivesBackChallenge

Pose 17: Ustrasana or Camel Pose

I actually skipped over this pose initially, perhaps because I was thinking I originally did it since it looks so close to Laghu Vajrasana from Day 15. I ended up doing it for JuneOYourChakras, which I’ll be recapping soon.

Pose 18: Krounchasana or Heron Pose

The full expression of this pose has the leg fully extended and against the nose. That wasn’t happening for me. Kerri says not to worry if you can’t extend the leg or grab the foot and to use a strap or keep the knee bent. I didn’t use a strap, but my knee is slightly bent, and I grabbed above my ankle instead of the foot.

Pose 18: Krounchasana or Heron Pose for YogaGivesBackChallenge

Pose 19: Marichyasana A or Marichi’s Pose A or Sage’s Pose A

This pose is a harder version of the Marichyasana C from Day 14 of this challenge. Kino says that “this is an important pose for giving yoga access into deeper forward bends and arm balances”. Although getting into Marichyasana C isn’t difficult, adding the bend was, and I did not get all the way down.

Pose 19: Marichyasana A or Marichi's Pose A or Sage's Pose A for YogaGivesBackChallenge

Pose 20: Bhujapidasana or Shoulder-Pressing Pose

According to Kerri “this posture isn’t as hard as it looks and is really all about balance”. She also says that “hooking the feet makes it a lot easier”. I was able to reach it by hooking my feet, but only briefly. I think part of the problem was that I didn’t start with my legs high enough, but at least I got off the ground.

Pose 20: Bhujapidasana or Shoulder-Pressing Pose YogaGivesBackChallenge

Most of the poses in the second third of the YogaGivesBackChallenge were new to me. It was nice to be able to try them and have an idea of what my starting point is, so that as I practice more, I can visually see my progress.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this yoga challenge recap. I’ll tell you about the last third of this challenge, as well as some other challenges, in the future. If you want to follow along with my progress in other challenges, including the BacktoBackBends challenge which has the same hosts, you can do so on @investinginfitness.

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BecauseYogiSays Yoga Challenge Recap

BecauseYogiSays Yoga Challenge Prompts

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Today I’ll be sharing my experience with BecauseYogiSays, a 10 day yoga challenge on Instagram. The challenge, hosted by @momwhatsfordinner@lydiamakokha, and @rackerman722 presented a different “yogi says” prompt each day. The prompts were open to interpretation, so participants could pick the asana, or yoga pose, they felt best represented it. The only things asked of participants were “express yourself” and “have fun”. I did both. BecauseYogiSays…


Meditate on Day 1 I sat in Lotus Pose or Padmasana. Normally, I’d meditate in Savasana (Corpse Pose), or do a walking meditation, but I decided to switch it up.


BecauseYogiSays Yoga Challenge Meditate in Lotus Pose

Rise and Shine on Day 2 I got into Cat Pose or Marjariasana. Since I sometimes wake up with a sore back, back stretches are a way I often begin my day.

BecauseYogiSays Yoga Challenge Rise and Shine Cat Pose or Marjariasana

Get Creative on Day 3 I got into Half Moon Pose or Ardha Chandrasana. According to an article by Amy Lynch on Mind Body Green, “this pose brings harmony through out the body and a sense of peace through the work required to achieve it”. I lost my balance a few times before I could look up without stumbling and my position is still slightly off. For those who can’t get into this position, using a block under the hand and/or looking down may be helpful.

BecauseYogiSays Yoga Challenge Get Creative Half Moon Pose Ardha Chandrasana

Be Fearless on Day 4 I did Fish Pose or Matsyasana, which Lori Myles-Carullo said in an article on GaiamTv.com is for releasing fear. This yoga pose, which I had never done prior to this day, opens the heart and lungs where Myles-Carullo says “fear often settles”. 

BecauseYogiSays Yoga Challenge Be Fearless Fish Pose or Matsyasana

Give Self Love on Day 5 I did Cow Face Pose or Gomukhasana. With the hand clasp, it was kind of like giving myself a hug and a pat on the back at the same time.

BecauseYogiSays Yoga Challenge Give Self Love Cow Face Pose or Gomukhasana

Pay it Forward on Day 6 I did a Standing Forward Bend or Uttanasana. A lot of people also mentioned how they did pay it forward acts during the challenge as well. Although I hadn’t planned it for the prompt, and the person didn’t take me up on my offer, I had happened to attempt pay it forward to someone during that day.

BecauseYogiSays Yoga Challenge Pay it Forward Standing Forward Bend or Uttanasana

Try Something New on Day 7 I tried King Dancer Pose, also called Dancing Shiva Pose or Natrajasana, which I had never done before as far as I can recall. It was easier to hold than I thought it would be but harder than it might look. This is also a pose from Jivamukti, which is a form of yoga that is new to me, and which I’ll tell you more about when I recap my experience with the LightOnTheMasters challenge.

BecauseYogiSays Yoga Challenge Try Something New King Dancer Pose, Dancing Shiva Pose or Natrajasana

Show Gratitude on Day 8 I got into a heart opener variation of Warrior I or Virabhadrasana A. According to Deborah Dunham in an article on Bliss Tree, “Heart opening poses are like saying ‘I’m here and I’m wide open to so many blessings'” I thought that was lovely and a good representation of my feelings on that day. I had stayed up all night and figured I’d at least see a sunrise. Then it rained. But I found myself grateful for it including the sound to listen to and the breeze coming in the window. You can see a clip of the rain here. I discussed a few other things I was grateful for this day here. On this day I also shared the idea of doing the ABC’s of Gratitude when you feel like you’re having trouble finding things to be grateful for and beginning with Alive and Breathing to get you started.

BecauseYogiSays Yoga Challenge Show Gratitude Warrior I or Virabhadrasana A

Balance on Day 9 I got into the same pose as I began the challenge with, but this time elevated. I remember learning I could balance this way back in junior high, although I didn’t know it was called Elevated Lotus Pose or Utthita Padmasana at the time. I did not balance myself very long in this position this time, but I wonder how long I’d be holding it now if I had kept practicing it since I was young. Part of balance for me is also time, so I had photographed the pose for this day and Day 10 on Day 8.

BecauseYogiSays Yoga Challenge Balance Elevated Lotus Pose or Utthita Padmasana

Rest on Day 10 I did Corpse Pose or Savasana. I’m sure I wasn’t alone in picking that pose for that day, but it was one I hadn’t done in awhile. Since I had taken the photo a couple days prior, I was especially able to rest on that day.

 BecauseYogiSays Yoga Challenge Rest Savasana or Corpse PoseAlthough I like challenges that tell me what pose to do since I may try poses I wouldn’t otherwise and can see how they are meant to look, I enjoyed the freedom in this challenge. In a couple of cases, I did try poses that were new to me. I also liked that coming up with poses for the prompts also helped me connect these poses to my life. Because I was kind of stumped on a few, such as what poses might fit for gratitude, I was lead to articles that had some interesting ideas that helped me learn more about the poses and their possible benefits. Overall I really enjoyed doing this challenge, and I hope you’ve enjoyed the recap. You can find recaps of other yoga challenges I’ve done here and follow along with my current yoga challenge and other fitness progress on @investinginfitness.

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Want a Nap? Try Working Out to Increase Your Energy Level Instead

Fitness Article: Want a Nap? Try Working out to Increase Your Energy Level Instead

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Though exercising when you are tired and want a nap may sound counterintuitive, and maybe even counterproductive, working out to increase your energy level may work for you. When I first heard from a mentor that I should exercise when tired instead of taking a nap, I was exhausted between working full time at my internship site and finishing up grad school assignments. Although sleep is, of course, important, I knew a nap would put me at risk of not being able to fall asleep that night, which could contribute to my sleep debt. So I decided to do a 20 minute workout with Les Mills Pump. I figured that it was short enough to power through and if it didn’t work, I could always take a nap afterward.

It did work! I shouldn’t have been surprised, of course. I had heard long before this advice was given to me similar sentiments from Chalene Johnson. In one of her Turbofire workouts, she talks about how people ask her why she always has so much energy and she says that she works out. People say that they’re too tired to do that, and she says that if they worked out they’d have more energy. That’s how it works. How does exercise work to increase energy?

The Body Creates Energy from Exercise

According to nutritionist Samantha Heller, energy production begins with mitochondria in our cells, which she says are like “tiny power plants to produce energy”. The more activity you have, the more mitochondria are required, so doing regular cardiovascular exercise prompts the body to increase the mitochondria available in the body to meet your energy needs (1).

Robert Gotlin, MD, DO, and the director of sports rehabilitation at Beth Israel Medical Center in NYC, says that the energy increase from exercise is also related to improvements in mood and fitness level. Hormones called endorphins are released when doing things requiring a burst of energy, like working out, and the increased level of endorphins helps people feel more focused mentally after a workout. Better cardiovascular health comes from working out, which leads to more endurance, allowing people to have more energy left over at the end of the day. People may also experience improved sleep after exercise which leads to more energy the following day (2).

Types of Exercise that Boost Energy

The type of exercise you do may matter if your’e hoping for an energy boost. In a 2008 study by University of Georgia researchers, it was discovered than inactive people complaining of fatigue could decrease fatigue up to 65% and increase energy up to 20% through participation in regular, low-intensity exercise (1). According to behavioral therapist and personal trainer Therese Pasqualoni, Ph.D, exercise that is in your low to moderate training heart rate range “will prevent you from depleting your body and help you from feeling fatigued…” (1). According to experts mentioned by Bouchez in a WebMD article, yoga, Pilates, and Tai Chi, are among the workouts that can be beneficial for this goal (1). There are some excellent home workouts that incorporate these workouts including yoga workouts Ho Ale Ke Kino and Yoga Booty Ballet, PiYo (a cross between Pilates and Yoga), and Tai Cheng, which is based on Tai Chi.

Robert Thayer, Ph.D, a psychology professor at California State University Long Beach, indicated that a 10 or 15 minute walk “has a primary effect of increased energy”. He discussed with WebMD a study in which people had more energy on days when they had more total daily steps than on days when they walked less (1). I have heard from several people that 10,000 steps a day is a good goal to have, and I know some who use a FitBit or similar device to track their steps and other activity levels. I haven’t given such a thing a go yet, but for awhile my car was broken down and I was walking nearly every day for at least 40 minutes, and I did feel a lot more energetic those days, even though I had to motivate myself to take those first steps. You can read more about increasing your motivation to walk or run here and some fit facts about walking here. If you do prefer high intensity workouts, Thayer reports that it might be possible that within about an hour of an intense workout “when your muscles recover, you might see a surge of energy but without the tension” (1).

Bicycling at Wildwood Recreation Site, Welches - horizontal - 281 Photo by Mt. Hood Territory via Flickr (creative commons)

Bicycling can be just for fun or to help you exercise on the way to a destination. [Photo by Mt. Hood Territory.]

Pete Mcall, Exercise Physiologist at the American Council on Exercise recommends bicycling for pleasure and to run errands or commuting to work. He says, “Research indicates that most errands people run are within two miles of their home, a distance easily covered on a bicycle.” He points out that bicycling for errands has a dual benefit, in that it reduces the the amount of carbons in the air as well as helping people to exercise (3). I may actually be getting a bike soon for both purposes. He also recommends working extra activity into your day by taking the stairs or parking in a spot further from your destination. McCall says “chronic exercise beats chronic fatigue every time” (3). I’ll have to keep that line in mind next time I do multiple (not overly strenuous) workouts in a day and am asked “Why are you working out so much?”

If you want to know the absolute best workout for an energy boost, Gotlin says the best workout is “up to you and what you like to do” because “it’s not going to work if you don’t like it”. (2).

What do you like to do for exercise (and hopefully fun)? Let me know in the comments below!




1. Exercise for Energy Workouts that Work by Colette Bouchez on WebMD

2. Boost Your Energy Levels With Exercise by Diana Rodrigues on Everyday Health

3. Exercise as a Cure for Fatigue and to Boost Energy Levels by Marion Webb on AceFitness.org

Note: As an Independent Beachbody Coach I do make a commission on sales through my shop, which is where links to Beachbody products will point. If you choose to purchase through them, I thank you for your support, and I look forward to helping you invest in your fitness!

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JunieBeYou Yoga Challenge Week 2 Recap

JunieBeYou Yoga Challenge Icon @jonesy.the.yogi

Click to go to @jonesy.the.yogi

For two weeks, I participated in the JunieBeYou yoga challenge on Instagram, which was the first yoga challenge I had ever done. I found out today that it’s also the first yoga challenge I’ve been a winner in. Cue Gir-like excitement. This challenge was hosted by @jonesy.the.yogi (Sarah J) and @erinpeoplesfitness (Erin Peoples) and sponsored by @FoxyMalas. If you missed my Week 1 recap, you can check that out here.

Today I’ll recap the second week, although due to traveling and hurting my knee a bit while traveling, I ended up catching up the last few a couple days late. Fortunately the hosts allowed time to do that before selecting winners. Here are the poses from the second week and my experiences with trying them.

Day 8: Eagle Pose or Garudasana

Erin gave instructions for getting into this pose, which requires standing with the feet together, bending the knees, putting one leg over the other, and hooking that leg’s ankle around the calf of the other. The elbows are bent at 90 degrees so the hands point upward. Then one arm is crossed over the other and forearms are rotated so the palms face each other. It can be modified in the legs by not hooking the ankle and resting the top foot on the floor and in the arms by leaving the backs of the hands against each other instead of rotating the forearms. This pose wasn’t especially difficult to get into (although I’m not sure if I got the arm position quite right), but it wasn’t super comfortable to hold.

Eagle Pose or Garudasana for JunieBeYou Yoga Challenge

Day 9: Crow Pose or Bakasana

Sarah said that she starts off this position in sort of a garland pose then positions her hands and arms to stack under the shoulders. I tried this and found it slightly easier than doing what I had done before with trying to approach from downward dog. I was able to hold it slightly longer as well (and this time the camera didn’t do that weird thing to my feet), but I still have a long way to go on this one.
Bakasana or Crow Pose for JunieBeYou Yoga Challenge

Day 10: Revolved Triangle Pose or Parivrtta Trikonasana

The original pose for this day was actually a regular triangle pose or trikonasana, but there was an option to do it like Sarah, which is a revolved triangle pose, so I did that. The revolved triangle is actually the same pose that was chosen as the pose for Day 8 of JuneOYourChakras, which was focused on the Solar Plexus Chakra (also called Manipura). I’ll tell you more about that when I do a recap for that challenge.

Revolved Triangle Pose or Parivrtta Trikonasana for JunieBeYou Yoga Challenge

Day 11: Dolphin Pose or Makarasana

This position is achieved by starting in downward dog, pointing the elbows out, and dropping the elbows slowly to the floor. Like Sarah I found it hard to keep my heels all the way on the floor, so there is room for improvement there. I like the fact that having a photo of this pose helped me see that I’m starting to get some muscle in my arms. This was also actually the picture that the hosts chose for my side of the winner announcement.

 Dolphin Pose or Makarasana for JunieBeYou Yoga Challenge

Day 12: Half Moon Pose or Ardha Chandrasana

I was able to align my foot and hand better and stay in the half moon pose longer than the last time, when I tried it for BecauseYogiSays. However, I didn’t look up, which I did do last time.

Half Moon Pose or Ardha Chandrasana for JunieBeYou Yoga Challenge

Day 13: Prep for Supported Headstand or Salamba Sirsasana

After what happened the first time I tried to do a headstand, which was during the YogaGivesBackChallenge, I decided this time to try a prep pose instead. Sarah offered options for those who couldn’t do a headstand yet, including a prep pose, a tripod headstand, and doing a full supported headstand against a wall. I decided to do the prep pose while lifting one of my legs.
Prep for Supported Headstand or Salamba Sirsasana for JunieBeYou Yoga Challenge

Day 14: Chair Pose or Utkatasana

The final pose of the challenge was chair pose, which apparently really confused my miniature pinscher Apollo, as you can see in his expression with the photo on the left below. On the right you can see more of the pose as well as Apollo sniffing my knees for some reason. I think he was trying to figure out if there was something wrong with me. If you like seeing my min pin, you can check out more of him as well as my corgi Gir (named after the robot dog mentioned in the intro) on @phoenixxphyre. The dogs also sometimes appear on Embracing Adventure.

Chair Pose or Utkatasana for the JunieBeYou Yoga Challenge with my Min Pin Apollo

I hope you’ve enjoyed this look back at my two week experience. Since joining JunieBeYou I have also been participating in several other challenges and am finding them to be great for practicing old poses and trying new ones. If you’d told me two weeks ago that I would be starting to try crow pose or headstands, I’d have thought you were crazy, but I’ve been working on, and even improving in, them. Although I’ve yet to be able to hold crow pose, or reach a full headstand, as Pattabhi Jois, creator of Ashtanga said: “practice and all is coming”.

The first time I tried the half moon pose, I fell over a few times before I managed to hold it and look up (and I didn’t hold it long). This time I was able to get right into it and hold it. It’s fun to experience progress, and having photos of it not only helps me to see it (as well as where I can continue to improve) but has helped me to connect to a larger community of yoga practitioners. You can follow my progress in other yoga challenges on @investinginfitness (and hopefully join in the fun as well).

Are you planning to participate in any upcoming Instagram fitness challenges? If so, let me know which ones below. 

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Workout Wednesday Link Up with Investing in Fitness

Today begins the first Workout Wednesday Link Up on Investing in Fitness. I hope you’ll join in the fun! Sometime between now and next Wednesday (July 1st), add a workout-related post to the linkup. You can include any post (new or old) related to working out, whether you want to tell us about your favorite way to workout, a workout program or challenge you’re participating in, something you’re training for, what you like to eat to fuel your workouts, or even your favorite thing to wear for a workout. As long as it’s workout-related, your post is welcome in the link up.

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4. Visit and comment on other blog posts in the link up.

Enter your post in the Workout Wednesday Link Up below:

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Combating Stress for College Students

Combating Stress for College Students

Me buried under books toward the end of my first degree, which was in creative writing. Click to go to the Pinterest board where you can see some of my writing.

As a recent graduate from a master’s program in counseling psychology, I know firsthand that being a student can increase stress due to anything from worrying about grades, to juggling a heavy workload, to trying to meet deadlines, to trying to figure out how to pay for school. I’ve experienced all of these things, and I know that stress in any form can impact productivity, health, and overall wellbeing.

CollegeDegreeSearch.net has asked me to share an infographic on stress in students, which has a lot of information on things that contribute to student stress and ways to combat student stress. They’re not compensating me for this post; I just thought that the info might be useful. I also wanted to comment on a few of the facts and ideas presented, so I’ll do that now:

Get Enough Sleep to Help Manage Stress

This infographic mentions the importance of getting enough sleep. Though adults should get an average of 8 hours of sleep a night, a quarter of students are sleep deprived. While the infographic doesn’t mention it, a lack of sleep also builds up a sleep debt. You can learn more about what that is and how to pay that back here. To reduce stress and help you fall asleep, one thing you may want to try is taking baths. You can find out more about how baths can help in relaxation, stress relief, and getting more sleep here.

Even if you fall asleep easily, if you can’t stay asleep, your grade point average can suffer. This could be due to the fact that a lack of sleep reduces your concentration. In addition to getting tired, getting less than 6 hours of sleep can lead students to feeling more sad and stressed. Check out these 10 sleep hygiene practices to help you sleep better.

Reduce Stress Through Exercise

One suggestion the infographic makes for reducing stress is to exercise. Some individuals get stressed trying to figure out how to fit exercise into their schedule, and I know even as someone who enjoys working out it is easy for me to let exercise slide during times of stress. However, when I do make time to exercise, I always feel better. The infographic points out that even walking for 30 minutes while listening to music counts. I did this a few times recently and it was a great workout. You can check out more ways to motivate yourself to walk or run here. There are also many Beachbody home workouts, some of which only require 30 minutes such as Insanity: Max 30 and P90X3. Still too much time? How about 10 Minute Trainer? Everyone’s got time for that.

Eat Healthy Food When Stressed

Although eating healthy is important all the time, this infographic also mentions the importance of eating something balanced and healthy when dealing with stress. It’s really tempting to grab unhealthy foods, especially as a college student, because they’re often cheap and take little to no time to prepare. What if you had a healthier alternative? Shakeology is a great grab-and-go option which, unlike fast food, contains superfood ingredients with nutrients, vitamins, proteins, and minerals. The cost is about $4 per shake, which is less than many fast food meals or coffee-shop lattes high on sugar and low on nutrients. If you are interested in working out and trying Shakeology, Challenge Packs offer you a way to save on both. This tool can help you select a Challenge Pack that’s right for you, or you can contact me for assistance and with any questions you might have.

Find out more info on the impact of stress on students and ways to handle stress in the infographic below. If you found this post useful, please share it with others via any of the social media options below and consider subscribing to Investing in Fitness so you don’t miss future posts on fitness, health, and improving your wellbeing.

Combating Student Stress "Stress Outbreak" InfoGraphic via CollegeDegreeSearch.Net

Pin the infographic to your Pinterest board for Student Life or Improving Wellbeing for easy access to the information on it and to this post.



Note: Though CollegeDegreeSearch.net is not compensating me for the post, as an Independent Beachbody Coach I do make a commission on sales through my shop, which is where links to Beachbody products will point. If you choose to purchase through them, I thank you for your support, and I look forward to helping you invest in your fitness!

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YogaGivesBackChallenge Poses 1-10


Click to go to @kinoyoga on Instagram.

The YogaGivesBackChallenge on Instagram is a 30-day charity challenge in which the number of images hashtagged #yogagivesbackchallenge by the end of the challenge will result in various donations from one of the sponsors to another and possibly from the hosts. The challenge is hosted by @beachyogagirl and @kinoyoga and sponsored by @aloyoga and @yogagivesback.

As of the halfway mark, there were over 50,000 posts, so Alo Yoga is donating $1000 to Yoga Gives Back, a nonprofit focused on raising awareness and funds to alleviate poverty in India. If there are another 50,000 posts, they will donate $2500. If there are a total of 150,000 posts, then the hosts will contribute $2500, resulting in a total of $5000 raised for Yoga Gives Back. It is my understanding that it’s okay to join the challenge late and to catch up on poses, which is what I did when I joined on day 10.

Today I’ll share the first 10 poses, some information about them, and a bit about my experience with them. Though I started with pose 10 and did a daily pose along with a few I needed to catch up on for the first few days, I’ll share them in the order they were assigned rather than the order I did them in:

Pose 1: Ardha Matsyendrasana or Half Lord of the Fishes Pose

The challenge started off easy enough with this pose, which is a pretty simple twist, at least for me, but this stretch has come up in a few Beachbody workouts. It’s actually in Les Mills Pump‘s Flow, followed by extending that leg my elbow is on, so having this simple version was kind of a welcome respite from some of the other poses I’d been trying in this and other challenges I’m doing. Ardha Matsyendrasana or Half Lord of the Fishes Pose for YogaGivesBackChallenge

Pose 2: Utthita Parsvakonasana or Extended Side Angle Pose

This pose was supposed to be Parsvakonasana B or Revolved Side Angle Posture, which means I should have had my other hand down on the same side of my leg like Kino, and would have been facing the camera with my chest. (If you want to try this pose and aren’t able to do that Kerri suggests putting your knee on the ground and twisting.) What I ended up doing was closer to Extended Side Angle Pose.

Utthita Parsvakonasana or Extended Side Angle Pose for YogaGivesBackChallenge

Pose 3: Prasarita Padottanasana or Standing Wide-Legged Forward Bend Pose

This is a pretty basic pose for me, having done a lot of these type of forward bends in other workouts. However, I could still improve my flexibility. For example, I could work up to being able to do it the way Kino does. For beginners, Kerri offers the option of using a chair while advanced yogis could try a headstand. I stuck with the middle road of just doing this pose. Prasarita Padottanasana or Standing Wide-Legged Forward Bend Pose for YogaGivesBackChallenge

Pose 4: Utthita Hasta Padangustasana or Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose or Standing Leg Raise

Kerri says that this posture is challenging for most people, so I don’t feel bad that it was a bit difficult for me to get up into. I was not able to straighten my supporting leg and could only mostly straighten my raised leg, but this is honestly better than I thought I’d do. Perhaps someday I’ll be able to raise it as high as Kino does, but she says to prioritize balancing rather than worrying how high the leg lifts, which I think is good advice.

Utthita Hasta Padangustasana or Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose for YogaGivesBackChallengeUtthita Hasta Padangustasana or Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose for YogaGivesBackChallenge

Pose 5: Pasasana or Noose Pose

This pose is technically supposed to include an arm bind. Kino says that the deep twist is part of the intermediate series and not to be surprised is the full bind eludes you at first. So I wasn’t surprised when it did. Kerri offered the option to instead do a simple twist with hands in prayer, so that’s what I did. She uses this pose to prep for side crow and fallen angel, neither of which am I ready to try. Pasasana or Noose Pose for YogaGivesBackChallenge

Pose 6: Gomukhasana or Cow Face Pose

I did this pose the way that Kerri ends hers. She said that if the hips are tight one leg can be straightened. I found it pretty comfortable as it was. Gir decided to photobomb me while I did the pose. If you want to see more of her and my other dog, Apollo, you can do so on Instagram @phoenixxphyre. During BecauseYogiSays, which I’ll recap soon, I was able to do this pose again with the arm bind that Kino demonstrates. Tonight at my husband’s suggestion, I also tried the way that Kerri did right before this version, with my arms outstretched, and it made for a really good IT band stretch.

Pose 6: Gomukhasana or Cow Face Pose for YogaGivesBackChallenge

Pose 7: Bakasana or Crow Pose

Although Kerri said not to worry if I couldn’t fly and just to stay on my toes and keep leaning forward, I had to try to fly. I had seen a suggestion from Jenny at Popsugar Fitness to start in downward dog and walk forward then do a little hop, so that’s what I did. I couldn’t hold it for long and tried it a few times. To my surprise, one of the times I held it was captured by the camera (although it made my feet look kind of weird). I tried it again today in the JunieBeYou challenge, which I’ll be doing a second recap of soon, and did slightly better. 

Crow pose or Bakasana for YogaGivesBackChallenge

Pose 8: Vriksasana or Tree Pose

This day was actually supposed to be Vatayanasana or Horse Face Pose, but it hurt to put weight on the knee, so I did as Kino suggested and did Tree Pose instead. Kerri offered low lunges and half lotus as alternate options as well. I guess I was a little wobbly because the camera did something weird to the foot against my leg and I have been wobbly in trying tree pose since, so balancing in this pose is something I’ll need to work on.

Vriksasana or Tree Pose for YogaGivesBackChallenge

Pose 9: Tittibhasana or Firefly Pose

This pose shares a name with my favorite show (although it’s of course named after the insect, which we called lightning bugs where I grew up). I was hoping I’d be able to pull it off, but alas. I tried it multiple times and could sort of hook my legs and sort of extend them, but I couldn’t do either for more than a split second. Kerri says that this pose gets easier the more flexible your hamstrings are such that a hamstring stretch might be a better substitute.

Tittibhasana or Firefly Pose for YogaGivesBackChallenge

Pose 10: Garbha Pindasana or Womb Embryo Pose

This pose usually has the arms through, but Kerri said that if this wasn’t an option just to try to wrap the arms around the legs. I didn’t end up wrapping my arms but rather just trying to balance with a hand on either leg. I didn’t balance long before I fell over. Although I didn’t try to do it this time, I remember sitting in the last position she is in, in lotus while balancing on her hands, when I was in junior high.

One thing I have liked about doing this yoga challenge so far is that I have gotten to try some new-to-me poses. I had never tried Crow Pose, Firefly, or Womb Embryo pose before this challenge, and it had been a long time since I had done some of the others like Tree Pose, Standing Leg Raise, and Cow Face Pose. I also liked that taking pictures of many of these poses allowed me not only to check my execution of the poses, but to see some of the  muscle definition I’m developing through Les Mills Pump. This challenge has been the opposite of JunieBeYou in that the poses were often given in Sanskrit without the English version, but I looked up the English names when needed so I could learn both, and am starting to remember some of the simpler ones like Bakasana (Crow Pose) and Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose).

This challenge still has several days left, so if you’d like to join in the fun, check out this post for more info on how to do that. You can follow along with my progress in this and other challenges on Instagram @investinginfitness.

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