My Instagram world is exploding in insanity!
Instagram—the social media platform based around photos—supports a substantial yoga community, and many people enjoy participating in challenges. Most challenges consist of the host or hosts assigning a pose every day for a specified period of time. For many, these challenges motivate them to practice daily, inspire them to try new styles or poses, and stir them to lust over possibly winning some amazing prizes. In the past, Instagram yoga challenges have changed the way I approach and practice yoga. One challenge eventually inspired my Hanstand365 journey.
I can hardly contain my excitement to announce that I am co-hosting my first Instagram yoga challenge, #ColoradoLovesYoga, beginning October 22nd!
Do you love yoga? Do you love Colorado? Join Colorado-based yogi HOSTS @runswithblisters THAT’S ME, @yogi_b_tattoo, @alexandracarone, @thesingingyogini and @yoginicolorado and SPONSORS @kindnessyoga, @c_ravel, @beautifulcommotionjewelry and CorePower Yoga in Parker, CO for a 10 day challenge focused on uniting and celebrating the Colorado yoga community and sharing our love for the outdoors!
POSTS will happen the night before each challenge day beginning OCTOBER 22! This challenge truly welcomes all levels. Each day, check out:
@runswithblisters: beginner hey, that’s me again!
@yoginicolorado: crazy variation aka are you even a real person? How does your body do that?
- One month of unlimited yoga at Kindness Yoga at any of the four locations in Denver, CO
- One month of unlimited yoga at any Colorado CorePower studio (to be initially redeemed at the Parker studio)
- Choice of leggings from Fractal9 @c_ravel
- Jewelry selection from Beautiful Commotion Handmade Jewelry
- If only challenge hosts could get these prizes too…
- Repost the challenge collage to your page- tag all the hosts, sponsors and your friends.
- Follow hosts and sponsors @kindnessyoga, @c_ravel, @beautifulcommotionjewelry.
- Post and hashtag photos daily with #ColoradoLovesYoga. (OUTDOOR photos celebrating Colorado for bonus points!)
- Feel free to catch up or join late. All posts must be submitted by November 5thfor prize consideration.
- Post your best attempt or whatever variation/flow speaks to you. This challenge is NOT a competition, it’s about bringing together and connecting the Colorado IG yoga community.
- If you aren’t currently living in Colorado, that’s ok. Feel free to join in, but the prizes will be limited to Colorado based participants.
- Be Awesome. But you’ve already got that under control.
If you have an Instagram account, join in the fun. Even if you choose not to participate every day, challenges present an opportunity to try new ideas, meet new people from the safety of your screen, and take more selfies. Everyone needs more selfies, right?
Please comment: Even if you don’t participate in Instagram, do you find that joining a community challenge helps you meet fitness or personal goals? Share your experiences about how a community or group of people have helped you grow.
Yoga doesn’t always involve a mat, Sun Salutations and Downward Dog. Sometimes after a frigid night sleeping on a thin foam pad in the mountains, you need to move slow and wake up achy joints. Yoga and exercise don’t “have” to be any one thing. Release your preconceived notions and move in ways that feel good to you.
Filmed in Pike National Forest, Colorado on Sunday September 14th, 2014.
Since writing my post about how to live “real” life like a vacation, I have focused on incorporating those guidelines into my everyday life. In a desperate attempt to incorporate multiple rules into one goal, I recently committed to 365 days of handstands. Daily handstands fulfill the following guidelines: #2 Do things you like, #5 Live gratefully in the moment, and sometimes #4 Get outside. 3 out of 6, I win!
Not to mention, what better way to improve on a random and barely useful skill than to make a public promise on my blog and Instagram to practice it every day for one year? Seems logical.
Until recently, I didn’t consider handstanding a skill I would ever master. Only gymnasts, acrobats and yogis with no life outside yoga could handstand. @beachyogagirl’s (Kerri Verna) handstand challenge on Instagram in May changed my mind. She wrote that anyone could practice handstanding and learn it like any other skill. Somewhere in the drills that month, I started to believe her.
Of course, in typical Kiya form, I stopped practicing immediately practiced less frequently after the challenge ended. I see people on Instagram who have continued to handstand and have noticed an alarming correlation between time spent practicing and ability level. Damn.
Why Handstand 365? Because it’s different. Not everyone can hold a handstand. I would love to conquer a skill I once considered impossible. My minimum obligation only consists of kicking into multiple handstands each day, so even my lazy self has no excuse not to practice it does not require much time commitment daily. Yet, consistently practicing a small amount will likely result in improvement over time.
If you would like to follow my handstand 365 journey, I post my daily handstand drill on Instagram under my handle, @runswithblisters. I use the general hashtag #handstand365 and my personal hashtag #kiyastandsonhands. If you use Instagram and want to join in the handstand madness, tag @runswithblisters in your posts so I can follow your progress!
Please tell me, do you have a long-term goal you are working towards? How do you stay motivated daily? How are you finding ways to live your life like a vacation? Have you ever conquered a skill or situation that seemed impossible at the time? Share your thoughts in the comments section!
Day 16 took place on top of North Twin Cone Peak (12,323′) in the Pike National Forest near Jefferson, Colorado.
My husband and I recently returned from a week-long vacation in Southern Colorado with my extended family. As with all vacations, coming home
sucks shit brought on the inevitable wave of vacation hangover. I longed for the huge cabin full of family and day-long hiking trips into the mountains. The thought of returning to “real” life made me ache. I flat-out refused. No, I didn’t quit my job and run away into the mountains, even though I really, really wanted to. I decided to live my “real” life like a vacation.
I contemplated how I lived and thought differently on holiday and how I could bring that into my every day. I now present my 6 ways to stay on vacation in real life.
#1: Stay off social media/internet/TV
I rarely use the internet or social media on vacation. My phone usually displays “no service,” and when I receive a connection, I am too busy to notice or use it. The problem occurs when I return home.
I have a major social media problem. The night we returned from vacation, I scrolled through Instagram and Facebook for five hours.
Obviously I have entirely too much free time. The next morning I woke up feeling crappy, guilty and worthless. Time on social media and surfing the internet often leaves me with these uncomfortable feelings, yet I return to it like a zombie each day. Why? (Side note: TV doesn’t thrill me, but I feel that it falls into the same category.)
I return to social media because of the ease. My brain doesn’t process, think, or assess. I simply stare as images and blurbs pass through me. It is always waiting to distract me, ready for those brief moments of unfilled time (a red light) or uncomfortable thoughts (how I feel about my brother’s death) or tricky decisions (how to articulate myself in this post). An easy go-to for an avoider like me. Scrolling through Facebook requires less work than revising a blog post,
because that post neither informs nor entertains anyway, and, in all honesty, I wasted my time and money on a degree in creative writing, because I only use it to write the occasional boring blog post–oh look, someone else got engaged!
The excessive time I spend on social media distracts from things that would improve my life. Yes, it seems easy in the moment, but it does not create the life I want in the long run.
Unless you count my “dream life” board on Pinterest. That counts, right?
#2: DO things you like
On vacation we experience ALL THE THINGS NOW! Instead of sitting and watching TV we see the sights, walk the area, and experience new things. Why, when we return home, do we live differently?
Yes, we all have to wash dishes and pick up the living room. That sucks and can only be skipped for so long.
Trust me, I’ve tried. Regardless, figure out a way to work in things you actually enjoy too. Don’t spend every night after work washing dishes and scrubbing toilets. Unless you actually like that kind of thing, you sick bastard. Life should consist of more than a series of chores and duties to merely survive.
Some might argue, “but it makes me happy to sit on the couch and stuff Cheetos in my face.” Realize the difference between what makes you happy right now and what makes you happy in the long run. I always think it will make me happy to “relax” in bed and scroll through Instagram for hours, but then I go to sleep feeling like a worthless piece of junk. Alternately, I feel amazing after an evening full of yoga, handstands, writing and my husband. Take the time to think deeply and evaluate if your activities make you happy now or in a lasting way.
#3: Connect with real, 3D people
When you recall the wonderful moments in your life, do you think of a text conversation? The comments from people on Facebook? Or do you remember that time your husband skied you down a giant sand dune, then raced you to the bottom, cutting you off so the two of you fell, rolling and covered in sand, laughing hysterically. Or sitting in the cab of a truck with your dad on one side and brother on the other, talking about what you thought happened after death. Those are my highlight memories. Times surrounded by people I love.
Replace time normally spent with “friends” online with real, live people! Start by building stronger relationships with the people in your house. Spouse, children, parents, roommates,
small, gnawing rodents. I don’t know who inhabits your home!
I also struggle with this step. My husband and I pass too much time beside each other staring at screens instead of spending it together. We sit in the same room for hours at a time, but when we go to bed I feel disconnected and sad. Instead, I will make a conscious effort to converse with him and maybe even get some #2 done.
See what I did there?
#4: Get outside
I spend the majority of my vacation time outside. Hiking, camping, burning things in pits. Sometimes I think the problem with coming home boils down to returning to our little second-floor apartment in the city sans yard or trees or happy little chirping birds.
I know the power of spending even a short time outside. On days when my darling little preschool students
resemble life-force syphoning vampires stress me out, I spend my break at the park. I remove my shoes and socks and sit on a blanket to eat my lunch under a tree. I return to work feeling completely differently than when I eat in the break room or my car.
Spending time outdoors in the evenings could give me the same lift. Lately I have started taking my laptop or book onto the balcony. Even small changes like this make a difference. Something magical happens when you remove the roof from overhead to feel the sun on your face and the breeze across your skin. I can’t be the only person who feels instantly relaxed by the sound of leaves moving in the wind.
#5: Live gratefully in the moment
No one finds difficulty giving thanks on a vacation full of people and activities they enjoy. Bring that sense of gratitude to everyday life. If you are reading this post, you are incredibly lucky.
It’s a wonderfully written post, after all. You possess access to electricity, the ability to read, a connection to the internet, a computer or smartphone and the ability to operate it. You can probably easily obtain clean food and water, a safe place to sleep at night and shelter from the elements. Of course, these assumptions may not apply to you in particular. Regardless of the specifics, give thanks for the hundreds of amazing opportunities in your life. Things that many people around the world strive to attain. Recognize this every day and thank your lucky stars.
#6: Have more sex
How do you cope with returning from vacation? Do you practice these 6 things already in your daily life? Or do you hope to start one or two soon? Do you find some easier to implement than others? Am I completely full of shit, and coming back home from vacation still sucks a big one?
My squat challenge ended on March 31st, thank the glorious powers that be! That challenge was horribly tedious, mind-numbingly boring, and a little painful.
Of course, I completed the challenge completely differently exactly as dictated by the exasperating lovely spreadsheet. I skied 5 days in March, so I counted those as squat days. I used rest days when I forgot felt the need, not when marked. And I maybe, kinda, perhaps, completely skipped the last 4 days of squats.
I could tolerate the challenge until I was performing more than 150 squats a day. All of a sudden it took forever and felt much more painful and repetitive. I suffered though until day 25, when I thought the squats totaled 200. Before that, the amount of squats normally increased by 5 or 10 each day. Until day 25. All of a sudden it jumped 40! I will admit, I quit from complete boredom mental shortcomings. The monotony irked me, and I didn’t push through. But civilization as we know it has successfully continued, and I just don’t care think I will survive this “failure.”
Even though I wussed out at the end of the challenge, I can still tell you a few things about squats.
I didn’t realize how much technique squats required. First and most important, send that butt back! The first movement of a squat should send the butt back, not down. So far back that you want to fall over at the bottom. Don’t actually fall. Not very often, at least. As part of this, the knees should always stay behind your toes to avoid knee strain.
For the love of God, hold your abs! After 167 squats with loose abs, your back will burn like one thousand suns ache. Don’t ask how I know. My lower back hates me enough. I don’t need some silly monthly challenge to throw it out. Plus, holding your abs will give you a little core workout too.
Go quick, but not too quick. When you’re performing 193 bodyweight squats, you don’t want to take 5 seconds on every squat. Just imagining that makes me want to bang my skull into a wall. However, if you go too fast, your form will suffer, you won’t get low enough, and the world will implode you’ll miss the point of the challenge.
Did my butt grow or love handles shrink? No. My husband actually laughed at me on day 22 when I told him that goal. He obviously doesn’t read my blog. Now I can tell you his dirty secrets and he’ll never know. He eats queso dip cold. Who does that?! Gross.
My lack of butt enlargement was disappointing, but not unexpected. I know body weight and lots of reps doesn’t grow muscle mass quickly. A girl can fantasize dream.
The twerpy hubby did point out the worthwhile points of the dreadful challenge. It doesn’t require a gym or equipment. You can squat at 10 at night in your living room, not that I ever did that. The challenge kept me moving on days when I didn’t make time for an entire workout. And my love handles didn’t grow. Smartypants Husband actually suggested that I continue squatting after March ended. Maybe throw in some push-ups too. Adorable, isn’t he?
For April I am joining the #yogatothecore challenge on Instagram. It is hosted by 3 ridiculously amazing yogis who each post their variation of a yoga position every day. Each day works different parts of the core. 6 days in, I love the daily diversity of postures, as well as the ability to choose my variation. If you use Instagram, feel free to join the challenge or follow me. Because experiencing me on just one form of social media cannot fulfill you completely.
Have you ever set a goal for yourself, only to discover the goal felt wrong for you? Have you purposely quit an activity before completion? Has anyone else tried this squat challenge? What did you think? Does your core need as much work as mine, and you want to join the #yogatothecore challenge too?
March is halfway over, so I should probably tell you about my secret February challenge, because I’m punctual like that.
In February I challenged myself to change my daily routine in 2 small ways: meditate for 10 minutes and complete 3 pages of free writing. Because I know myself so very well, I knew that I needed to schedule these changes into my day, or they wouldn’t happen. I chose to meditate first thing in the morning before work and free write during my lunch break.
At first, I used the Headspace meditation app to guide me through meditation. Their Take 10 program kick-started my habit and made it dummy-proof. However, the program ends after 10 days. Headspace offers other programs for purchase, but I wanted to learn to guide myself through meditation. I received Complete Meditation by Steve Kravette for Christmas in 2012, so I decided to crack it back open and actually use some exercises.
I started experimenting with different meditation positions besides sitting. Laying down, standing in star pose which felt fine until my arms lit on fire, and squatting which felt slightly uncomfortable at first, then flared into full on lower back agony. Although not suggested in the book, I fell in love with the yoga pose Legs up the Wall.
Especially for sore legs or joints, letting the blood flow out of my legs for 10 minutes releases the pain and ache. After this position, laying flat on the floor for a minute will allow the blood back into the legs before standing. Unless you enjoy feeling light-headed and falling over.
I have also experimented with silent mantras. Take 10 suggests counting breaths up to 10, but because of my bizarre angst issues, that makes me anxious. I especially enjoy the following mantras from Complete Mediation:
Inhale “I am,” exhale “loved”
Inhale “Re-,” exhale “-lax”
Inhale “hum,” exhale “so,” which means “I am the one.”
Meditation first thing in the morning has helped me relax and start the day with a reset, calm attitude. Even though it takes time out of my morning, it paradoxically feels like I have more time.
In February I meditated 23 out of 28 days!
As a creative writing major, I heard of practicing daily free writing many times. Most recently, an Ali Kamenova YouTube video sparked my memory. She started a 30-day challenge to complete 3 pages each day. For those unfamiliar with the term, free writing is completed by writing long-hand in a notebook and keeping the pen continuously moving even if it just says “Pen moving. Pen moving. Don’t know what to write.” No judgment. No concern for being coherent, concise, or even grammatically correct. Only minor concern for readable handwriting.
I have not produced much work over the last few years, as evidenced by the spotty posting here. I wrote more blog posts than fiction works, so you can imagine the pathetic state of my current fiction resume. My lack of production boils down to my bitchy inner critic. She vetoes all my ideas before I even write them! Turns out, an inability to create new material presents a problem for a writer.
Through the free writing part of my February challenge, I learned that I can silence that stupid critic. Free writing should be shitty, jumbled, incoherent and making no sense. Previous sentence obviously written in the free writing style… One day I felt so pissed that I just scribbled cuss words in huge capital letters. Counts as a page.
Topics I generally use for free writing: blog brainstorming, planning, creative writing exercises, and general whining writing in my personal journal about experiences and emotions. Each day I picked one and wrote furiously for 3 pages.
I found that free writing each day built momentum. Once the words and ideas were vomited onto the page, more ideas flowed in and branched out. I could then type of the insanely rough drafts and refine them until I could show them to others without complete embarrassment.
During February I used free writing to brainstorm 4 blog posts, finalize 3 posts, brainstorm characters for a short story, and capture issues and emotional states in my journal. I wrote 23 out of 28 days. Success!
March Monthly Challenge
Since both parts of my February challenge helped me so much, I decided to continue practicing them. For March I will conquer the Pinterest squat challenge!
I want to grow my butt and shrink my love handles. I used to have such a nice, round booty, and it disappeared! I want it back! I know, I know, lifting heavy weights will grow the muscle faster and more efficiently. But neither lifting weights nor being efficient has ever been my style.
Do you give yourself goals or challenges to keep motivated in fitness or other parts of your life? Wish I were more organized and gave you notice, so you could join me on my monthly challenges? Wonder how long this monthly challenge thing will last? Yeah, me too…
Runs With Blisters is now on Instagram! So if you’re one of those cool, hip people that obsessively use all types of social media, follow me there too! At least until I get bored or busy and stop posting.
Laugh at Observe my daily adventures in living healthy, forcing myself into working out, and attempting good nutrition. Because, you know, you don’t get enough of that here on the blog.
Just don’t ask me to join Twitter…
Are you on Instagram? What do you think? Too busy/technologically challenged to navigate all these new-fangled social medias?
Those who remember my treadmill dancing post can only imagine my excitement last week when my husband played the ESPN Sports Nation jeers of February and I saw a dude StairMaster dancing. Not only does he throw down killer moves, but check out that bod! With arms like that, you can break it down however you want at the gym. Who will tell you to stop?
I would love to grove like that a the gym, but I’m too terrified to fall off the back of the machine and get ground to a pulp. Not to mention the pathetic-ness of my flex pose in comparison to his. I bet he can do more than half a chin-up.
To meditate, simply “sit and exist” or “sit and think about nothing.” Gag. I don’t know about anyone else, but I call bullshit these condescending and oversimplified euphemisms have never helped me actually meditate.
I saw the Headspace app for smart phones in a fitness magazine that described it as a free, easy way to start meditating if you’re not all zen and one with the universe you’ve never tried. Did I mention free? I could give free a try. Worst case scenario, I would delete the app after a few days and return to my normal, pathetic existence.
For the last few years I have struggled with anger, depression and anxiety. I tried everything: medication, therapy, exercise, work books, screaming at my husband. Some helped a little, but none made a huge difference, except the yelling. I’ve read that meditation also helps reduce the exact feels I struggle with, but so far the “sit and clear your mind” method of meditation has failed.
The first see: free program on Headspace consists of a series of 10-minute recordings that lead you through 10 days of meditation. They call it “Take 10.” Is that name totes adorbs or what? Before the first meditation session began, a video about how to approach mediation popped up. It talked about expectations have none, how much effort to apply none, but only a little and other mumbo jumbo helpful topics.
The amazingly British accent of Andy led me though the recordings. I felt easy and relaxed until holy crap I can’t even concentrate on this stupid recording I suck at everything even meditation and especially life my thoughts wandered slightly. Andy calmly assured me that I could expect my mind to drift. Just breathe and gently refocus. Of course. I knew that.
After day 3 the app required registration for a Headspace account (just email and password). I gained access to more videos and podcasts that gave me information about how to become instantly enlightened go deeper and enhance the experience.
After completing Take 10, I have achieved inner peace, feel one with the universe and approach all situations with understanding and nonattachment. Ha! Yeah right. I meditate first thing in the morning. Ok, second thing after dressing and brushing my teeth. Otherwise I fall asleep. Turns out sleeping and meditating are not the same thing. It gives me a little breather before the insanity of preschoolers hurtling around my classroom screaming “Twinkle, Twinkle Dinosaur” at the top of their lungs and knocking over block towers instead of cleaning up. I love my babies, and walking into school on a post-meditation relaxation buzz makes the day run much smoother.
For me, the Take 10 program made meditation easy to understand and practice. Being led step-by-step through the process in a conversational way let me find a calm place. It took meditation from something that “those crazy yogis” practice to something that I, a 20-something preschool teacher who sometimes needs a break from her own brain, could benefit from immediately.
As of today, I have meditated 25 out of the last 30 days. On Thursday I didn’t make time to meditate before work, so I meditated in the car on my break. Maybe I am becoming one of those crazy yogis… I recommend the Headspace app for anyone who wants to try out meditation, but doesn’t know where the hell to start. It definitely kicked off my new habit and helped me understand how to get all zen and shit. As long as I don’t think about how I need to do laundry and wash dishes oh shit I suck at meditating which means I am a horrible human being who will never succeed at anything can stay focused.
Do you meditate? If you do, how did you get started? How does meditation help you or improve your life? What do you think of meditation, whether you practice it or not?
Big news! Runs With Blisters, Kiya, her husband, her bunny and all her junk moved to Denver, Colorado 2 weeks ago! New apartment, new state, new car because the middle of an intra-state move is the best time for a car to crap out, new workout routine. When I left Kansas, I also left my traditional gym membership and my Zumba instructor license.
Since Colorado has an outdoorsy, active reputation, I decided to become a complete slacker try out some other fitness options. I’ve been a member and employee of a traditional gym for a little over 2 years, so in order to completely bum myself out psych myself up, I compiled a list of pros and cons of opting out.
- Complete freedom to try any location or any format! Hiking, biking, camping, aerial silks, salsa dancing, skiing, Brazilian samba, belly dancing, pole dancing. The possibilities are endless!
- Ability to match my workout level to my energy level. A Zumba instructor has one level: insanity high. UnSurprisingly, my body is not always up to performing at that level.
- The power to change my workout based on my personal fitness and body image goals. My “goals” change every week. This week I’m really committed to holding down the couch cushions restorative yoga.
- I can use the bathroom whenever I want to mid-workout! It sounds like such a small thing, but when you’re the instructor, you have to hold it.
- I already have a decent home gym. Exercise ball, pull-up bar, yoga mat, hand weights, resistance bands (both the tubes AND the wide ones!), and even an ab roller contraption. Yeah, I’m that cool.
- I might actually use some of the DVDs I own. Over time, I’ve bought 3 yoga DVDs, 2 Jillian Michaels DVDs and “Just Dance with Julianne” (with Julianne Hough from Dancing with the Stars!). I also own all the P90X DVDs. Don’t ask me how that happened. Just know they all say “EVALUATION COPY” across the screen. I don’t have $300 to drop on workout videos!
- My empty wallet! Paying per class adds up. Especially when trying out cool/different fitness activities. Try $20+ per class. Ouch!
- To save my bank account, I will have to use the small fitness facility at our apartment complex for most daily workouts. This means lots of tedious cardio machines and uninspiring and painful weight machines.
- I might actually use the fitness DVDs I own. After the first 3 watches they are SO BORING! I actually tried doing P90X once, but only made it to day 30 because you essentially do the same 6 videos every week. Tony Horton is funny, but when you can recite each punch line with him, he gets a little old. Plus, when you only have Jillian Michaels watching from the TV, it’s all too easy to press pause for 5 minutes or lay on the ground while she lunges around the room. You try to pull that in a live group fitness class, and you’ll get some weird looks!
What exercise method do you prefer? Traditional gym with cardio machines, group fitness classes, and weights? No memberships, but working fitness into your life through DVDs, home gyms, or the great outdoors? Totally out of the box options like aerial silks, pole dancing or something else so crazy I’ve never heard about it? Or do you laugh in the face of exercise and help me hold down the couch cushions this week?