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The 30-Day Yoga Challenge :: Photo Shoot

11 Jul

Growing up my dad always called me “Butterball.” I think it was meant to be a term of endearment, but I’m pretty sure he may as well have been calling me “chunky butt” because that’s how I interpreted it. Also, I was always the “roundest” of my siblings. In fact, my tiny, petite mom always tells me I get “esas patas” (those legs) of mine from my dad’s side of the family.

On the other end of the spectrum, my mom always tells me how photogenic I am. We’ll be looking at pictures and it never fails:

Mami: Oh, look how beautiful you are in the picture. You’re so photogenic.

Me: Thanks, Mami.

Mami: Did I ever tell you about how you were chosen by a children’s modeling agency because you were so photogenic?

Me: Yes, Mami.

Mind you, I don’t ever actually ask my mom why she didn’t actually sign me with them. I suspect it had to do with money, but I really don’t want to get into why I was never made into a child star so I could makes lots of money, become my parents’ boss, throw it all away on candy, Barbies, theme parks, and the eventual drugs and alcohol that always follow, then burn out at the young age of 16 and have to check myself into rehab. No, I don’t want to discuss these missed opportunities. So instead I change the subject.

Also, I don’t want to point out to her that I’ve already deleted all of the pictures where I had a double chin. Of course she thinks I’m photogenic. 🙂

So what does this have to do with the yoga photo shoot that we got for completing the 30-day yoga challenge? Well, let’s just say it reinstated my mom’s decision to not have me model. Because I pretty much suck at it. Sadly, dreams of becoming a 30-year old, short, plus-sized model are over. It’s a good thing I kept the ol’ day job.

Apparently I’m most photogenic when taking casual photos in a large group. But make me stand by myself in my spandex yoga clothes and tell me to strike a pose and I freeze and panic. Why did I think we were doing a group photo? Why hadn’t I practiced at home in front of a mirror? Why were all of these girls so skinny and bendy?

I felt so uncomfortable in my skin, which is weird since after many, many years with this body, I’ve become quite comfy in it. What can I say? I was out of my element and I still have my moments.

I managed to only strike two poses, because suddenly I forgot everything I have learned in yoga. Out of the 11 photos our wonderful studio owner sent us, I only will be showing you the two below. That’s because I’ve already deleted the other nine pics and want you to think I’m naturally photogenic.

I do love these two pics a lot, and am super happy I didn’t run out of the room without getting photos taken, which is what I really wanted to. At the end of the day, I did something that scared me and two good photos came from it.

Thanks to Christine at Full Circle Yoga for organizing the challenge and all of its wonderful prizes! I look forward to taking the challenge again next year, and practicing for the photo shoot in front of the mirror beforehand. 🙂

When was the last time you did something that scared you?


The 30-Day Yoga Challenge :: Final Thoughts

8 Jul

A little over a month ago, I decided to take up my yoga studio on their 30-day yoga challenge. For the next 30 days, I worked my schedule like it was a puzzle, figuring out how to fit in 26 practices.

Here are my final thoughts about the experience: the good, the bad, the funny.

My Broken Body

I started this challenge because I am on a hiatus from running caused by my bitchy IT band. Said IT band was hell bent on punishing me for transgressions I committed against my body while training for and running pirate peg-legging my way through the Flying Pig Marathon.

The doc ordered strength training in my legs and core and lots and lots of stretching and boy did I cover those in June! My arms and shoulders feel stronger than ever and I find myself having oddly amazing posture. My legs and hips feel super stretched and there’s not an overly tight muscle in my body. My body feels amazingly relaxed, which is a vast contrast from how it tends to feel during marathon training.

However, I did slack on rolling my IT band with the foam roller and the stick. Because of that, I still have scar tissue that I think needs to be broken down on my right leg. I could feel the results on this when I went for a test run on Thursday after yoga. I was only a quarter-mile into my run when I felt that familiar pressure next to my knee, so I started walking immediately. But let me tell you what, that first quarter mile was amazing! I couldn’t help but smile when I felt the wind blowing through my hair. Oh, how I miss exercising outside!

Also, I have a bit of tendonitis in my right foot that I developed during my Flying Pig Marathon pirate peg-leg run. I have done little to rehab it and started to hurt more towards the end of the challenge. I’m now doing yoga with an ankle brace on and sleeping with a different compression brace and already I’m feeling better.

Two Pounds

That’s how many pounds I lost with 26 days of yoga. Considering I spent most of my time doing low impact Hatha and Ashtanga practices, and had zero free time for cardio, I’m not disappointed. I tend to gain weight when injured and not running, so I was happy to avoid that fate this time around.

Six Loads

This is how many loads of yoga clothes I had to wash in a span of a month. However, the rest of my laundry took a hit and as a result I did much exploring of my closet towards the end of the month.  Thanks, yoga challenge, for helping me get creative with old (but the only thing I had clean) clothing!

I must say that I am very impressed with myself for not buying any yoga clothes during this challenge. I managed with what I had: a bunch of running clothes that would have to make due for yoga.

My favorite article of clothing? An old, faded pair of yoga pants I got from Old Navy ages ago. They were the only pants I had that I didn’t have to constantly pull up between sun salutations. One day, when my budget allows for it, I will go stock up on some yoga pants.

The oddest thing I wore to yoga class? A black leotard with some old sweatpants. I needed to do laundry. 🙂


My hair was a hot mess during the month of June. Too avoid frying my hair too much, I spent much of the month wearing my hair in ponytails and twists, similar to this:

And then at the end of the month I had my sad ends trimmed. Yeah! My hair survived the yoga challenge!


I didn’t get to spend much time at home during the month of June. This was partly due to the yoga challenge and a lot of celebrations with friends.

It was also partly due to our house hunting. Yes, that’s right. House hunting.

D and I have been discussing buying our first home for a while, and decided to start the house hunting process after I returned from my Cincinnati marathon trip. Big fans of shows like House Hunters and Property Virgins, we knew we could be searching for quite some time before we actually found our first home.

Well, our search didn’t last as long as we thought it would. We fell in love with the sixth house we saw. And if everything goes well, we’ll be closing on our very first home later this month!

By the way, I have to give my friend Beth big props. I met Beth in my marathon training group. She’s hilarious, fun … and happens to be a very knowledgeable and hands-on realtor. Since D and I are property virgins, she has essentially held our hands throughout this whole process. We feel so blessed to have had her by our side! If you’re looking to buy or sell in the Central Florida area, I highly recommend Beth.

On a related note, never ever go house hunting while doing a 30-day yoga challenge. I spent the first three weeks of the challenge, viewing houses, meeting with our amazing realtor, negotiating, attending inspections, etc. … all in between work and yoga classes. While the yoga was helpful in helping reduce my stress levels, the time spent on yoga and house hunting almost killed me. Which brings me to …

Sniff, Sniff, Cough

Three weeks straight of going full force finally caught up to me on the fourth week of the challenge. I got a cold that left me sniffling my way through downward dogs and coughing through shavasana. Sudafed was my best friend, and I somehow managed to work my way through the last week. I’ll make a note to take vitamin C next time around.

Wait, you would do this again?

Heck yeah!

The Rewards

Aside from increased flexibility, stress release, increased strength and glory, we also received some rewards for completing the challenge:

  • Discounted monthly rate (which I’ve already taken advantage of)
  • Free guest pass (which Donnie took advantage of yesterday)
  • Gift certificates to local spas and restaurants
  • Yoga photo shoot (hopefully I’ll have some pics to share soon)

I’m going to keep up 3 to 4 yoga classes per week for the rest of July, while rolling my IT band daily. I’ll also continue to do these short test runs weekly and hopefully I’ll be back to running by the end of the month.

Thanks everyone for your support along the way! 

The 30-Day Yoga Challenge :: Day 26

2 Jul

After surviving the most difficult yoga class I took this entire challenge, I had only one more class between me and relaxation: Hatha 1.

First, I had to get to the class… which proved to be quite the challenge.

I woke up Saturday morning at 7 AM and rolled myself begrudgingly out of bed. I brushed my teeth, threw on my yoga clothes, grabbed our yoga mats and told Donnie I would meet him at the studio at 8:30.

Then I ran over to Starbucks to pick up some fraps for me and some friends:

Oops! Forgot to leave off the whipped cream!

You see, there was some confusion Saturday morning. And by confusion, I mean that I made a pretty big assumption that if I had not been so busy with yoga I would’ve had some time to really think through.

My running group leader organized a self-supported long, long, long run for a few ton of her closest friends. She did this last year for her birthday, so without giving it another thought, I assumed this was her birthday run. Never mind that her birthday is in September. My brain couldn’t be bogged down with such details.

So I show up to the run and saw Sue right away. Our conversation when a little something like this:

Me: Happy Birthday, Sue! I got you a frappuccino!

Sue: It’s not my birthday.

Me: Oh, is it tomorrow?

Sue: No, it’s in September.

Me: Oh, wow. I thought this was your birthday run.

Sue: Nope.

Me: Do you still want your frappuccino?

Sue: Not really. I can’t drink that right now.

Me: Oh.

Some Girl: Today’s my birthday!

Me: Oh, happy birthday! Do you want a frappucino?

Some Girl: Oh, no. I can’t drink that while I’m running.

Lucky for me some of my friends showed up and quickly jumped on a nice, free, cool caffeinated beverage. Goodness, who knew people don’t like to drink chilled yumminess during their lap breaks?!

Anyhow, that just gives you insight into where my brain has been this past month…

After I had finished wishing happy birthday to people whose birthday it was not, I jumped in my car and drove to yoga. I made it with just a minute to spare. Poor Donnie was just sitting on the floor in the studio because I had his mat. I laid out our mats just in time for class to start.

The class was great, even though my teacher told me he wasn’t going to go easy on me just because it was class 26. What he didn’t know is that after Friday night’s power flow class, it would be pretty hard to break me. I felt so good that I even tried an unsupported wheel pose for 2-seconds. Weeeeeeeee!

After class I stopped back by the run to see how everyone was doing. Somehow my friend Lauren convinced me to walk a lap (2.6 miles) with her. I didn’t have shoes, so I walked them in my flip flops.

The good news is, I had zero IT band pain (though it was just walking). The bad news is I have blisters on the bottom of my feet from walking in flip flops.

Afterwards I soothed the blister pain with this:

This, my friends, was a french toast cupcake topped with maple syrup and bacon. Erin made these yummy treats, along with some other yummy cupcakes. The flavors in my mouth were such a treat. I stand by my belief that bacon does make everything better!

Since Donnie and I had planned to spend the rest of the weekend near bodies of water, I was off again. And spend the weekend by the water we did indeed!

Saturday: Poolside at my mom’s.

Sunday: Beach … Take 1 … This guy rolls through my shot.

Sunday: Beach … Take 2

We each had family in town so we ended up being really busy the rest of the weekend. I haven’t really had much time to think, never mind process how 26 days of yoga has affected me.

You know what? I think I’m going to go ponder it over a glass of wine.

The one thing I can say for sure is that I’m planning on taking off from all exercise until Thursday… a much needed reward!

Congrats to Carolina, from Peas in a Blog, who not only finished the 30-day challenge as well, but she finished it with days to spare. Girl, you were a beast!

How did you spend this beautiful weekend?

The 30-Day Yoga Challenge :: Day 25

2 Jul

I am still doing a happy dance. “Why’s that?” you say? Because on Saturday I completed my 26th class of the 30-day Yoga Challenge at my studio!!

But let’s start on day 25 …

Day 25: Power Flow

After my first experience with Ying Yoga, I was limited with choices for classes I can take on a Friday. The only other class available is a Power Yoga class described as “a level 2/3 Flow class that works up to a higher level of vigor with more challenging variations of postures demonstrated.” That “level 2/3” part is what made me choose Friday as my rest day for the rest of the month. However, this Friday left me with no choice. My level one ass was going to have to make do in a level 2/3 class.

Usually I’m eager for work to end and my weekend to start, but not this past Friday. This Friday I spent my day dreading going to class. By the time I finally got to class I was just repeating “you’re not going to die” to myself over and over.

The good news is I didn’t die! But this was most certainly the toughest practice I’ve had throughout the challenge. I’m proud of myself for reigning myself back and taking the lower level modifications, rather than throwing my back out trying something that was obviously beyond my level.

However difficult the class, the worst thing about the class was actually a guy right in front of me in class. This yogi was something I hadn’t seen in any of my classes to date: a show off.

At first I thought he was a teenage boy, and that explained his behavior of laughing through tough poses and looking over at his neighbors and smiling while he hit the pose deeper than they did. It was disruptive, but I took him to be a bendy teenage gymnast or something and didn’t mind as much. However, at the end of class I thought I heard him mention that he was an instructor himself and got a better look at his face. Oh, he was not a teenage. Suddenly his behavior seemed all that more worse.

With his abilities, he certainly had much to be proud of. But to this point I’ve found most yogis to be modest. The fun part of yoga is that so much is internal … you’re fighting your thoughts from distracting you … you’re keeping your body from pushing too far too soon … you’re focusing on your breath. But you’re usually not competing with those around you. Yes, from time to time you’ll find yourself comparing yourself to those around you (this happens to me all the time… Friday especially) but you remind yourself that this is about your practice, not theirs and refocus.

I guess it just took me off guard to see someone making their practice more of a competition with their neighbors. But with 25 classes under my belt in June and this was the first time I encountered this, that’s not too bad.

Afterwards I shot my friend Carolina from Peas in a Blog a text that only said two words, but just about covered my experience:

Holy shitballs.

She knew exactly what class I was talking about. 🙂

The 30-Day Yoga Challenge :: Days 23 and 24

29 Jun

This week marked a set of firsts for me for this 30-day yoga challenge:

  • It was the first time I missed a class because I was running on Puerto Rican time
  • It was the first time I doubled up on classes during the work week

On Tuesday I had an appointment with my hair stylists, so it became my rest day. But then Wednesday became a second rest day. When I was driving to the studio, I realized I wasn’t going to make it on time. When I realized I forgot my mat too, and sighed heavily and turned my car around.

Later, I described my unexpected rest day at home to my friend as “a relaxing night riddled with guilt and stress.” Go figure. I get a night to stay home by myself and the entire time I was trying to figure out which day I was going to double up on yoga classes.

I aimed to double up on Saturday, but felt uneasy leaving two classes of the challenge to the last day of the month. Plus, I want to make a pit stop at my friends birthday ultra-run before my first class… a birthday party and two yoga classes all before lunch? Ew. Too much.

But then, yesterday happened.

Day 23: Hatha 1

It was a bit odd that I kept thinking to myself, “Aw, this is the last time I take this class.” I mean, it’s not the last time I take this class ever. It’s not even the last time I take the class within the challenge (Saturday I’ll close out the challenge with a Hatha class). It’s just the last time I take this class on a Thursday night within the challenge. Aw… so happy to see I’m sentimental about the whole experience. 🙂

My practice went well. I even didn’t cough during Shavasana. Yippee!

I felt so good afterwards that I made a last minute decision to stay in studio and take the following class.

Day 24: Yin/Yang Yoga

The studio’s website describes this practice as “a unique blend of vigor and deep, still, stretches.” The class is essentially a two-part practice: the first half is a vigorous vinyasa flow sequence, while the second half is torture a series of yin postures. You remember how much I liked my first yin yoga class, right?

It’s a good thing I was too distracted the first half of the class to be worrying about the second. By the time the yin yoga came I was actually thankful to be able to sit still! Granted, it was in a pose, but I took our teachers instruction and always made sure I felt good. I think the first time I took yin yoga, I was pushing myself a bit too much and that’s why the entire class was so torturous. This time around I was able to focus on my breathing and relax my body into the pose.

What a difference one month of yoga does, right? 😉

I’m off to work, then my second to last day of yoga. It’s a power flow class and a higher level than what I am, so I have to remember to take the modifications and not kill myself. Wish me luck!

Happy Friday!

The 30-Day Yoga Challenge :: Days 21 and 22

26 Jun

I’ve been so hopped up on Sudafed that I forgot to actually write about day 21 in my last post. That’s okay, since both of these lessons ended in the same way (badly), they probably belong together.

Day 21: Hatha 1

On Sunday I had my favorite special guest join me for yoga. Not only is he handsome, but he’s bendy too:

Me and Donnie

I was excited for Donnie to try this class because it is taught by one of my fave instructors (the one that hands out hugs after class). Also, I didn’t mind seeing him sweat his way through the class. 😉

The practice was tough and amazing and somehow I managed to keep my sniffling to a minimum. When it came time for shavasana, our instructor told us she would be leading us through a guided meditation, so our rest would be 30-minutes. At first I was excited for the opportunity.

But then as we began our meditation I felt it, the tingle in the back of my throat. You know, the one that says, “Hey you… You need to cough.” I tried to shake it, but realized it wasn’t going anywhere. I grabbed my water bottle and stepped out of the classroom and walked outside into the rain to cough freely.

I stood outside for about 15 minutes, coughing and drinking water, until I felt confident that I was over my coughing fit. I rejoined the class at the perfect time (they were making noises) and was at least able to join the guided meditation halfway through.

Afterwards we grabbed a bite to eat and headed off to pick up one of my pugs from the vet. To keep this as clean as possible, I’ll leave it at “Rex had some anal gland issues.”

Here’s Rex recovering (and looking like a sad little sumo wrestler):

Yes, that’s an old 5k race t-shirt wrapped around his bottom. Gotta use them somehow!

I spent the rest of the rainy day coughing, sniffling and reading.

Day 22: Ashtanga Basics

Throughout this challenge there have been days where I just didn’t feel like going to yoga. Monday was the worst of these days. Tropical Storm Debby was reaping havoc outside, I had a long day at work and I was feeling like crud. I wanted nothing more than to lay on the couch and let Donnie take care of me. But with only a limited schedule to hit my 26 days of the 30-day challenge, I knew I had to go.

My poor instructor. I walked in and he was a ray of sunshine. I was that dark cloud that kills the sunshine.

As we worked into our practice I started to feel better and my mood started to shift. I was taking the higher difficulty options for poses and was feeling stronger than I thought I would. By the time Shavasana rolled around, I was feeling proud of myself for a good practice.

I was just shy of patting myself on my back (in my head, of course) when I felt it. The tingle in the back of my throat. Dangit, what is it about laying down on my back that makes me have to cough? I tried to fight it, but it wasn’t going to fly out of my mouth. Instead I ran out of the studio and tried to make it outside but the door was locked. I almost kicked the door open, but thankfully someone unlocked it for me. I ran out into the light drizzle and started coughing like a wild woman. Thank God for my instructor, who brought me a bottle of water or I might still be sitting out there coughing.

There was no getting to go back and enjoy the second half of rest this time. I missed it all. I’ll tell you what, yoga practice seems so incomplete without shavasana.

Tonight I had a scheduled hair appointment, so no yoga for me. I now have the rest of this week (Saturday being the last day) to complete the challenge.

I sure do hope I don’t cough my way through it.

The 30-Day Yoga Challenge :: Days 19, 20 and 21

24 Jun

Sniffle … cough … sniffle … sniffle …

This is what I currently sound like.

It seems that the month of June 2012, and all that I tried to accomplish in it, has finally caught up to me in the way of a head cold. I suppose it could be worse.

On Thursday I woke up with a slightly sore throat, but thought it was just a little dry from the AC. However, when I woke up on Friday, my throat felt like someone has taken a Brillo pad to it in my sleep.

I rarely get sick. I attribute this to my strong Puerto Rican genes, running and not having kids. The not having kids part seems to be very important. All of my friends that have them are always sick. Apparently kids are a cesspool of germs and I shall remember this for all future consideration of baby-making. 🙂

However, I’m not running and yoga does not seem to have the same germ-fighting effects on me, so alas I have a head cold.

Sniffle … sniffle …

Here’s how the last three days of the 30-day yoga challenge went:

Ashtanga 1

Thursday night I headed off to class feeling tired, but encouraged by the knowledge that a rest day was just hours away. Since I got there early, I was able to choose my favorite spot: next to a wall, halfway between the front and the back of the class.

A new yoga friend set her mat down next to mine and we chit chatted a bit before class started. We wondered aloud if the giggling pre-teen girls from last week would be back.

Thursday’s practice was tough, and I felt amazing afterwards. So amazing that I considered coming back Friday for Power Yoga so I could have a rest day over the weekend.

But then I woke up Friday with my throat thing and I knew yoga that night would not be likely. Still I tossed my clothes and yoga mat in my car and hoped for the best. Sure enough, but the end of my Friday I wanted nothing more than to go home and lay down.

Beginner Hot Yoga

From Friday to Saturday, my sore throat progressed to the sniffles. Donnie suggested I should take a hot yoga class and sweat it all out.

There are a couple of reasons I hadn’t yet ventured into the hot yoga classes in the other studio. One of these reasons was not owning a yoga towel for my mat. Our studio is a nice studio and I always figured it would be frowned upon for me to show up with a beach towel. But I just can’t bring myself to spending $30 on a yoga towel. Not until I know whether I like it at least. Besides, I don’t even spend that much on my bath towels! However, Thursday night I noticed someone using a beach towel to cover their mat and made note of it.

I agreed with Donnie, that sweating it out would be a good idea. Plus, the hot yoga class was later, so I could enjoy my morning before I got my bendy on. Hot yoga it was!

Around 10:40 AM, I loaded up on Sudafed, grabbed my beach towel, water and yoga mat and headed to the studio. Without thinking, I tucked some tissue into my sports bra in case my nose got runny.

I was surprised to find a beginner class so packed. I arrived five minutes early and got the LAST spot in the room. I looked around and noted a couple other people using beach or bath towels on their mats. Whew!

I started to sweat the moment I stepped into the hot studio. It felt like a sauna day in that room. I took one last swig of water and prepared myself for my first hot yoga class.

Guess what? I LOVED IT!

I would say this was a more vinyasa-style class. We flowed from pose to pose, while the sweat rolled down my back. During my downward dogs I noticed the sweat dripping off my forehead. And by the time we entered Shavasana, I was pretty sure that my eyeballs were sweating. I looked as if I had just run 15-miles during the hottest part of a Florida summer day. I sweat pretty, alright!

On a side note, remember that tissue I stuffed into my sports bra in a moment of haste? Yeah, that soggy mess fell right onto my mat during one of my downward dogs. Ha!

Our instructor, who also owns the studio, was awesome and I stopped to thank her on my way out. I think I even got choked up doing so. Dang, my hot yoga was so awesome it made me emotional?? YES!!

I’ll definitely be hitting up some hot yoga classes again. However, it won’t be on any days that I’m not planning on washing my hair. I don’t think any amount of dry shampoo could salvage my hair after that class.

Speaking of dry shampoo, I already went through one container in just three weeks.

I can’t believe that this will be my final week of the challenge. Good luck to my friend Carolina from Peas in a Blog. Girl, this like is the final three miles of the marathon!


I forgot to post about day 21… Hatha 1. I will include this in my next post!