My new 30 day challenge

We’re ready for our next big challenge.


These past few weeks after the hype of the Nike Women’s Marathon has ended it’s reign, I’ve been struggling with what to do. Yes, I’ve been doing lots of yoga and it feels great to see all my friends at Downtown, but I really miss running. I miss how good it felt to know I ran really far. And just the excitement of running. My Saturday mornings feel empty. I really miss the routine I had going on – waking up early to run which usually followed with yoga of some kind later in the day. That feeling of accomplishment and having the whole day to do whatever I pleased is gone. But that Cecilley… she’s been conjuring up a plan for herself post NWM this whole time. And I’ve been conned into this plan of hers too (only because I miss spending so much time with her and this is my way of making that happen). I’m ready for another lifestyle transformation and Cecilley needs me. She needs my persistence, dedication to something and my additive personality to get her through the next 30 days.

My new challenge, which I’ve chosen to accept, will be to complete the Tracy Anderson 30-Day Method.

To give you the background story, last spring/summer when the weather was much warmer, Cecilley and I would squeeze extra runs our our day with the Bullfrog Babes Buns of Steel. This running club of ours was just the thing we needed to kick start our afternoons at work. The group consisted of 5 ladies from our office (including Cecilley and myself) and the goal would be to run 3-5k on our lunch hour. This, of course, depended on a multitude of factors: was everyone up to going? was it to humid? did people have afternoon meetings? Keep in mind we do not have showers at the office, so getting really sweaty wasn’t the plan. Nor an option. But one day Cecilley decided to shake things up and introduced Tracy Anderson to us all. This changed everything.

The Tracy Anderson Method is designed to straighten those tiny muscles connected to your bones and joints and help women stay strong as they age. We often don’t think about what’s going on underneath our major muscles, which is exactly what Tracy wants you to discover. It doesn’t hurt that Tracy is a super fit girl! I trust she knows what’s she’s doing. And I’ve always been intrigued by infomercials, books, and DVD about fitness routines you should try. Do they actually work? Or is it just a scam? My bet’s on Tracy!

The few months left leading up to our race, the BF Babes were taking Tracy to the roof where we’d do the floor portion of her exercise. The Tracy Anderson 30-Day Method is divided into two parts: a cardio section and the core/arm/this is really going to hurt afterwards section, which involves the weight and toning stuff. I can see why celebrities have jumped on board the Tracy train – this stuff kills! But I really liked it, and so did my work gals.

So here we go. As of November 5th I will follow the strict rules and abide to every word Tracy says. I will also make sure Cecilley sticks to the plan as well. I’m not doing this alone! The 30 Day guide comes complete with an instructional book and dance DVD outlining everything you need to know. But The Method is not just an exercise plan for you to follow. No, no Tracy demands you cut out everything else. If you really want to best results you do only what she says. And you stick to her dietary plan. Oh boy. This will be the part I struggle with – no running or yoga makes Jill go crazy! We shall see if I survive. This is where I’m going to need Cecilley. We are a duo after all!

Running the hills in San Fran was one thing, taking on 30-Days of Tracy is another. I promise before and after photos and updates along the way.


How to survive a 30-day yoga challenge

If I can do it, you can do it. Really.


Jill shared her tips on how to survive a 30-day challenge when she completed her first one back in February. It’s a good list, but remember: Jill is crazy. I decided to share my top five tips for surviving a 30-day yoga challenge too. Between my tips and Jill’s tips, you should be able to conquer any challenge you take on, whether it’s 7 days, 30 days or 100 days. (I’m trying to convince Jill to do a 100 day challenge. I think she could.)


1) Do it with a friend

Knowing JK was doing this alongside me was essential to survival. We could encourage each other, complain to each other, discuss our progress and our classes. Sometimes just a look through a particularly hard class was enough to keep going. If you’re going to do your own challenge, I can’t recommend having a friend highly enough. We didn’t do every class together (probably 3 a week), and that didn’t matter. What mattered was that she was out there, somewhere, suffering alongside me.


2) Plan ahead

Every Sunday, I’d look at my schedule and map out my yoga plans for the week. Knowing what classes I was going to and when took out all the guess work and timing, eliminating any possibility of skipping a class or missing a class. Sure things happened — classes were cancelled, social plans were made — but having a template week by week makes everything easier. It doesn’t matter if you’re dedicated to one studio (like JK) or mixed it up (like me). A plan makes life easier.


3) Get a Passport to Prana & check out free classes

Get a passort. It is worth it. Not only does it make a yoga challenge affordable, it allows you to mix up your routine. During my 30 day challenge, I used my passport 5 times and saw 3 new studios. And check out free classes. June was a great time to do a challenge because it felt like everyone was offering open houses or free festival classes. I took 2 free classes and it was grand.


4) Be patient

There are times when your challenge will really, really, really suck. You will want to quit. You will think it’s the stupidest thing you’ve ever done. You will hate yoga, hate your body and hate your life. These feelings will pass, I promise. Just breathe and have a few go-to kick-ass classes on your schedule that you know and love and always make you feel better. For me, this was Kula’s power yoga class. I always felt better afterwards, no matter how shitty I felt stepping on my mat.


5) Mix it up

If you do a hard class one day, do an easy one the next. Follow a power class with a hatha flow class. Do a morning class, then a night class. Sprinkle your schedule with crazy classes, like hip hop yoga, yogalites or suspension yoga. This will keep your practice fresh, keep you from getting bored and will keep you from getting stuck in a rut.



JK Guest Post: The 30 Day Challenge is complete

Jen, aka JK, is often my partner in crime in book-related and fitness-related things . I’m really excited she’s decided to tackle this 30-day challenge with me and even more excited she wants to share this journey with all of you! Jen will be sharing updates about the challenge throughout the 30 days, so follow along! You can read her first post here, her 10-day recap here, and her 20-day recap here. — Erin

She did it! We did it! -- Erin.

It’s all over. And am I bigger, faster, stronger? Zen-like and unflappable? Hardly. But I think I am a little bit fuller. On the mat, my core is a bit stronger, I’m paying more attention to my back body, staying a bit lighter. Off the mat, I feel a bit more in touch with my practice and with my fellow yogis (notably Erin, our kula of two, with special guest appearances by Jill). But that fullness is also a sort of quiet confidence, a satisfaction. I did it, and I could, and would, do it again.

Though looking back it feels very ordinary, with no glamorous breakthroughs or sudden enlightenments, I realize I have learned some things. I’ve learned that exercise CAN be a part of your life every day and, usually, a good part. But I’ve also learned the value of rest, and of resting when you need it. I discovered the necessity of pacing, of balancing heated and unheated classes, challenging and restorative ones. I picked up a few tips that may change my practice too (maybe even get me up into my fantasy handstand). And off the mat, I’ve made a few changes. Thanks to reading The Happiness Project, I think about attitude more, and about how things that make you happy take effort (this whole yoga project is just a perfect example). Also thanks to THP, I’ve kept clothes off the floor of my bedroom for over 30 days now (a tougher challenge than the yoga in some respects). We know that lasting change is slow and steady, and that’s what this challenge offered, and hopefully my practice will continue to offer.

Highlight: Our final hour flow class with Jen Slade. It was open house day at Kula, and the room was packed with new people: people who weren’t so serious, who chattered, who were excited. (Yogis, for all our good qualities, are sometimes a little too serious.) Jen was even more energetic than usual (which is saying something), and brought out some partner poses and got us off our mats. And though normally my BF provides the music, today Jen had a guy playing pots like crystal bowls. He even broke out a pan flute sometimes that made me giggle. There was a moment, during savasana, with those pots singing at just the right pitch, that I just soared, felt large, all-encompassing like something in a Walt Whitman poem. Lying there with Jill and Erin and all these strangers, I thought, “We did it.” I was aglow.

Lowlight/Challenge: Total embarrassment when I accidentally crashed the Power 8 savasana, thinking it was the beginning of the class and not the end. No doubt everyone thought I was crazy. And then, as punishment for letting my blondness take over, I had to do hot core instead. Which was the second time that week, and this class was definitely the less enjoyable of the two.

So where do we go from here? Me, probably back to my 4x a week schedule, although I’m definitely open to 5, or even six. And I’d definitely be game for another 30-day challenge in the future. It’s a nice thing to do with the change of seasons, preparing for summer, celebrating the long daylight hours and the warmth that lets you leave the studio without layers. We might just have the makings of an annual tradition.

My goal for this project was above all to be grateful. And maybe I wasn’t grateful for each chaturanga pushup (or any of them, really), or for each and every practice. But I am grateful that my body could handle it, for the opportunity to do it, for my wonderful studio, for a partner to do it with, and that I did it at all.




30 Day Challenge: Days 26-30

We did it. I don't know how, but we did.


Well, it’s done. And by the end of the challenge, I just wanted it to be over. Here’s how the (exhausting and painful) final five days went down.


Day 26 (Wednesday): I rarely do Moksha right after work, and when I gave it a go on Day 26, I remembered why. The classes are packed. And a packed class means it’s hot hot hot. I was glad to sweater after a few gentle classes in a row, but I found this class to be really overwhelming. Good, but overwhelming. Next time, I’ll stick to the am silent class.

Day 27 (Thursday): For the second week in a row, I hit up Yoga Sanctuary’s morning class. The Sanctuary has a neat challenge on, where if you do all their 6:45 classes in June, you get all the 6:45 classes in July for free. This means that, unlike last week, when we only had three people in the class, this class was packed. But the gentle pace was a nice way to wake up and recover from the Moksha the night before.

Day 28 (Friday): Power at Kula was cancelled again!! This made me sad and frustrated. While JK opted for a restorative class, I decided to head to the Karma Moksha class. This was a really overwhelming day already, outside my fitness regime, and as a result, I wasn’t in the right headspace for the super-specific, slightly (okay, really) condescending tone of the teacher. This class was the exact opposite of what yoga is supposed to be about. I left the class feeling terrible about yoga, terrible about myself and terrible about life.

Day 29 (Saturday): I made up for the lack of Friday night Power with the Saturday afternoon class. Power at Kula is an hour of magic. I felt so much better about everything when this class was over.

Day 30 (Sunday): We finished the challenge with a free live music flow class at Kula. Jen Slade really brought it for the hour to impress the tons and tons of newbies (the class was super packed). It was challenging, playful, but not exhausting. The perfect way to end 30 days of yoga.

I’ll write a more thoughtful recap post in the next few days. Right now, I’m still trying to sort out my feelings about Jill’s big secret.



My big 30 day secret


This is why my last challenge supposedly didn't count.


Okay, it’s finally time to spill the beans… I too did a 30 day yoga challenge! Another 30 day challenge, but this time a real 30 day challenge, according to the Matt Elliott rules of a 30 day challenge. This is a true story, my friends. Now that you all know Erin and JK’s 30 day challenge stories, here’s mine. Yup, that’s right, I did another 30 day challenge and I haven’t told a soul. I’ve kept this secret hidden for 30 days. I don’t care what Matt Elliott says. This is my second challenge, completed.

Why would I do this again in the matter of 6 months? Well let me tell you, there is a long (well it’s really not that long) and intense (this will get intense, trust me) story as to why I did this again and basically it has to do with Matt and a little something Erin told me.

When Erin decided to do a 30 day challenge, I was beyond excited. Anything Erin does that makes me feel as though I might be responsible for it makes me happy. Basically, this means anything yoga related. And it made me even more happier knowing Jen was along for the ride. I knew Erin and Jen were both going to get through this no problem – remember if it’s your first challenge ever, the buddy system is very important factor for success. Let me rephrase this. I knew Jen would be fine. Erin, on the other hand, may quit yoga after this is over, but she would power through as much as she’d want to quit. That’s Erin, push until you can’t push any further.

During this time (while Erin would be yogaing all the time) I decided to run. I’m destined to be a runner, and I will be one if it kills me. That was the plan anyway – to run all the time – that was of course before I heard the news. I don’t remember the conversation exactly, but Erin came to my house before going to Kula one night (this was before her challenge began) and basically spilled the beans that according to Matt, my challenge didn’t count. Because I doubled up when I missed a day of practicing. This happened 3 times! And because I practiced one day in my kitchen listening to a teacher’s podcast. I only did this once!  My challenge doesn’t count, in the eyes of Matt Elliott. I was beyond angry when I heard this news. I went on an emotional yoga roller coaster back in January. I felt amazing, I wanted to murder things, and I gained acceptance with my practice in a much deeper way. To have all this work slammed to the ground was maddening. So I retaliated, I took on a new challenge, to prove Matt I, too, could conquor his 30 day yoga challenge rules and practice everyday at a studio somewhere. I didn’t tell anyone because I didn’t want to steal Erin or Jen’s thunder, I did this for me. And where I was still Living My Moksha, I thought it made sense to practice more than a lot.

Well Matt I did it. I did yoga everyday in a class room with a real teacher (not via podcast from my computer) AND I even doubled up a couple of days AND still practiced the next day. AND I’m even going on day 33. So there! You can even check my Daily Mile updates. This happened for reals.

I feel much better now 🙂

30 Day Challenge: Days 21-25

Jill showing us how it's done, yogalites style.

I am in survival mode. I just want to get through this. I am stressed, overwhelmed and exhausted. This 30 day challenge only plays a small part of that, but it’s impossible to separate your life from your practice. However, I am feeling that as I write this, on day 28. Days 21-25 were possibly the strongest of the challenge thus far. It’s funny how quickly things change.

Time to recap this leg:

Day 21 (Friday): Power Hour was back! I love this class, I love the 7pm time, I love the small room. And I love sister yoga surprises. Jill and her friend Cecilley showed up to take the Power class. Good times all around.

Day 22: (Saturday): Jill and I took advantage of the Riverdale Art Walk to enjoy free yogalites. A great class. You can read our review here.

Day 23 (Sunday): Joined JK for live music flow. Jen Slade was MIA, but Elyse was a nice sub.

Day 24 (Monday): Monday is time for new things, so I gave Full Moon Yoga at Yoga Sanctuary a try. I’m glad I tried, but harnessing the strength of the moon is not my thing. I had difficulty buying into the spiritual element on this class. Really, I should have known better — it was called Full Moon Yoga, after all — but what can you do?

Day 25 (Tuesday): Post-class late night Linseed. Planks made an appearance again. Linseed, what are you thinking?

We’re almost there. Only one more of these recaps to go. I’ve run out of insightful things to say.


JK Guest Post: The 30 Day Yoga Challenge Day 20

Jen, aka JK, is often my partner in crime in book-related and fitness-related things . I’m really excited she’s decided to tackle this 30-day challenge with me and even more excited she wants to share this journey with all of you! Jen will be sharing updates about the challenge throughout the 30 days, so follow along! You can read her first post here and her 10-day recap here. — Erin

A screen cap from a book vid, but I think these faces are appropriate. -- Erin


So last week I was all easy breezy about this challenge, and this week it got harder. I was a bit more tired, and while I was trying really hard to focus on breath and length, sometimes that didn’t happen. My goal all along has been gratitude, and I think squeezing in these 10 classes I lost sight of that a bit. There was a lot of powering through. And powering through has a time and a place, but if you’re in tears of frustration, it seems you should have backed off awhile ago. This week I discovered (the hard way), the importance of not doing three super hot classes three days in a row. It completely wipes me out. How do those Moksha people do it?

Anyway, here’s the highlight/blooper reel of the last 10 days . . .

Highlight: Saturday Power 8 class with Serah. I was sweating prolifically and the room was packed, but somehow I just ended up feeling dewy and energized. Also related to Serah: waking up yesterday morning after a hard hot hour class (so many abs!) and really seeing my abs. Instant payoff! And a key confidence booster before bikini season.

Challenge: Thursday morning shambles again. I don’t know what it is with me and Thursday mornings, but I think it’s mostly that I’m just totally exhausted and get easily frustrated. Then come the tears (which in a non-heated class, are harder to pass off as sweat). This time it was over not being able to get my knee right in Warrior 1, and then failing at handstand the way I always fail at handstand. Ridiculous, I know, but what can you do? Also worth noting that Serah’s hot hour that I praised above for showing me my abs was also seriously hard. (There was sweat pouring into my eyes constantly, an experience Erin wisely calls “another kind of crying.”) But it was kind of nice thinking that a year or a year and a half ago, I wouldn’t have been able to stick it out as well as I did.

One of my favourite things a yoga teacher can do is talk about their own challenges with their practice. And right when things got harder in this second 10-day stretch, a couple teachers happened to do just that. I love when they say they think about their dinner plans during savasana, or that when given a chance to take a child’s pose, they always take it instead of the extra flows. It makes these people I idolize (let’s face it, I do), seem more human and my own struggles seem so normal. This week Christi-an (Kula’s director), admitted that she practiced for eight years before she thought she was good enough. And of course that seems crazy, especially because philosophically yoga isn’t concerned with goals, or even really progress, just doing what you can at the time. So in this middle leg my takeaway is a rather obvious but necessary reminder: that it’s hard for everyone, and even in tears, even flailing about trying to do a handstand, it’s just the doing it that matters.



30 Day Yoga Challenge: Days 16-20

This counts as yoga, right?


I think I’ve hit a turning point with this challenge. Sure, my exhausted and my hip is perpetually on fire, but I find myself, more often than not, looking forward to my daily yoga regime. (I think it helps I’ve cut back on the hot, hard classes. Yoga is now about celebrating my movement, not punishing me for it.) I’ve learned a lot of tricks along the way (which I’ll share at the end of the challenge) that help. I’m also eternally grateful that JK is doing this with me, and that it’s easy to convince Jill to come along for the ride. I rarely have to do a yoga class alone.

Let’s recap!

Day 16 (Sunday): This was my second time taking Power 8 with Lesley. It’s a solid class and I really enjoy the back room (especially when they open the window!). If you’re looking for 60 minutes of power yoga for only $8, I can’t recommend Kula more highly.

Day 17 (Monday): I used my Passport to Prana to head to Yoga Tree’s 5:45 hatha flow class. This place is slick. Like, Lulu Lemon commercial slick. The class itself was fine, the service was friendly, but it wasn’t my scene. I’ll be back again, passport in hand, though. And the schedule is plentiful.

Day 18 (Tuesday): Late-night Linseed classic. JK joined me for this, and there were no planks to be found!

Day 19 (Wednesday): Silent morning Moksha again with Jill. I struggled through this more than I did last week, but I’m chalking that up to being Day 19 of the challenge, nothing more.

Day 20 (Thursday): I had a work event Thursday night, so I decided to give Yoga Sanctuary’s new 6:45 time slot a try with their hatha class. The 15 minutes make all the difference. The class was a nice way to wake up, unlike Moksha, sunlight streams into the Yoga Sanctuary, so you feel awake and alive during your practice. (I bet in the dead of winter, I’ll prefer Moksha’s dark mirrored room, so I have no idea how dark it is outside).

Only 10 days left. I can see the finish line.




30 Day Yoga Challenge: Days 11-15

Whoa, halfway there! Whoa, living on a prayer.

I’ve been singing Bon Jovi to myself since day 15 ended. The end is in sight. This is actually going to end. I will survive.

Days 11-15 saw some interesting battles. I was exhausted from so many late nights. (Writing, I swear!) And physical pain started to kick in. Part of the reason I wanted to do this challenge was because my left hip and knee were becoming enemies with running. Now it seems they are becoming enemies with yoga. So I took this stretch of classes relatively easy, in hopes that by doing so I can preserve my hip for the rest of the 30 day stretch.

What I’ve learned from this so far, though, is that fitting exercise into your life every day is doable. It’s easier than you think. It just needs to be a priority for you. I’ve always thought exercise was a big priority for me, but I was delusional. It was a little priority. Racing kept that on track. But if I want to have a dynamic, interesting fitness regime that doesn’t rely on forcing myself through challenges like half-marathons and races, I’m going to need to better prioritize fitness in my life.

This means my kitchen will always be messy and my laundry will never get done. I think I’m okay with that.

What classes did I take for the third leg of this challenge? Let’s recap!


I did some of this! It was strange.


Day 11 (Tuesday): Classic late-night Linseed. The night school/Linseed combo is working out really well. Although, JK and I have noticed that the new power offering at Kula is sneaking into other classes and it snuck into Linseed’s this week! Gentle, bedtime yoga with side planks! If I wasn’t so exhausted, I would have been up for the challenge, but I was a tad heartbroken when we did this sequence. I am getting better at the side plank, though — a nice side benefit of this challenge.

Day 12 (Wednesday): Jill and I hit up the morning Moksha silent class. I was not looking forward to another morning yoga class, but I wanted to squeeze in maximum post-work writing and I learned my lesson the week before — no Wednesday am Kula class for me! This Moksha class ended up being a godsend. In silent classes, you go through the series of poses without too many flows. It was wonderful to just do something my body knew so well and not have to think about transitions or vinyasas. Definitely the highlight of my yoga week.

Day 13 (Thursday): Since I was tired, I decided to do yin, to prep myself for my beloved power class on Friday. I figured that the am/pm yin/pm combo would be a good way to get my energy levels up. Jill is in love with the Thursday night yin class at Moksha, and even though she’s my sister and I have a Moksha pass, I’ve never been. It was fine, a nice break from my regular classes. I’ll definitely do it again, but it’s not going to be part of my regular routine soon. (Sorry, Jill!)

Day 14 (Friday): I was so excited for Power by Friday afternoon. After a class of stillness, I was ready to move. Then, at 5:30, I checked the Kula schedule online, just in case. Class was cancelled! Argh! I didn’t want to wait around for the Moksha 8pm class, so I was left with a decision: high-tail it to Kula and give restorative another go, or abandon yoga for the day and double up on Saturday or Sunday? I decided that the grief I’d get from Matt would not be worth it in the end. (There’s an endless debate happening: is the challenge 30 classes in 30 days or yoga for 30 days straight? What do you think?) So I headed to Reiki restorative and made it just in time. It, like yin, was fine. It was nothing special. I am not a fan of restorative. I learned that on Day 10. It feels like something I can do on my own. If I’m putting $$ up for fitness, I want to move. Two classes is fair amount of time to assess. Let’s find something else for me now.

Day 15 (Saturday): Jill and I went to a suspension workshop at the Flying Yogi. We had tried the demo at the Yoga Show a few weeks ago and were keen to give a class a try. When a WagJag for their intro workshop popped up, we both grabbed it. A longer recap of the experience is coming, but the general assessment is that it was interesting, and every yogi should try it once. It did make me surprisingly sore the following day, though, so that’s something!

There you have it. 15 days straight of yoga. I made a date to give Yoga Space a try, I want to do yoga outside and I want to do another outside-the-box class. My headspace is so different than it was 5 days ago. And that’s a good thing.

We’ll see how long it lasts.



30 Day Yoga Challenge: Days 6-10

Well, days 6-10 were much, much better than days 1-5. I got most of the grumpiness out of my system and have accepted I’m in this for the long haul. It probably also helps that I’m not doing power power power power anymore, but actually allowing myself to slow down.


Clearly, I need more photos of me doing yoga.


Let’s recap:

On Day 6 (Thursday), I was exhausted from the killer morning hot hour class the morning before. I opted to do a hatha flow class at The Yoga Sanctuary I had never tried before. Now, normally, hatha is not my thing. When I work out, I need to be working in order for it to feel like it worth my time. But this class provided a great opportunity to reflect on why I include yoga in my work-out regime and why I’m doing this 30 day challenge. It also gave my very tired arms a break.

Day 7 (Friday) was Power Hour at Kula! I don’t know if it was the combination of spring sunlight, the long weekend among us for Christ-an’s amazing music mix, but I loved every second of this class. (Except chair pose. Because I will never love chair pose). It was a great way to kick off my weekend and get me back into a “yoga is great!” headspace. (If you missed it, JK agreed. Clearly, Christi-an is magic)

Day 8 (Saturday) was Moksha Music. I’m usually “meh” on moksha, but I make an exception for Jackie’s Moksha Music. She makes her flow sequences interesting and challenging, but not overwhelming. It was a tiring class, though, so I was glad it was the weekend. A regime of write yoga write yoga was exactly what I needed. Oh, and I ran 7.5km this morning. The run was awesome: perfect weather, lots of great friends. I miss running. A lot. This is an unexpected development.

Day 9 (Sunday) was Live Music Flow with JK and Jen Slade. It was fine. I enjoyed the challenges of some of the poses, but was getting tired. So tired.

Day 10 (Monday), I bailed on my pal B (sorry B!) due to a combo of “too much to do and oh, my cousin is in town?!” We were going to do Moksha together. Instead, I opted for the exact opposite of Moksha: restorative. Conclusion? I’m not a restorative fan. I think I’ll bail on the restorative for now (although I still need to give Reiki a shot) and just incorporate the poses that work for me into my practice outside of class. Because I may hate folding over a bolster, I love lying back on a block.

I think I’m out of the painful phase of this project. Now it’s about managing my energy levels and my time.