this isn’t football

Hello yoga people!

Today officially marks day 8 of the challenge. How is everyone doing?? I’ll admit, yesterday was a little tough for me. I’m having some sciatic nerve issues (I think?) and right now, my body is wanting more rest than it does vigorous vinyasa. Can I still do the challenge? Absolutely! Last night I had a great twenty minute stretch on my mat before bed with a long child’s pose and savasana that literally had me rolling straight from mat to bed. Yoga in my pajamas? Yes, please.

I know that as a society, we’re often taught we should go, go, go! There are so many different tapes we play to ourselves. What? You don’t run marathons? Then clearlyyyy you’re not a real runner. You don’t practice 90 minutes of power yoga a day? You’re not a true yogi. You don’t belong to a gym? You must not have any muscle definition. You don’t do cardio (gasp)? Well that’s just plain weird.

Every day, we play these tapes to ourselves, telling ourselves we should be faster, stronger, better than the next person. But really…who’s keeping score? Sometimes all the yoga we need a day is a brief fifteen minutes before bed while other days we enjoying challenging ourselves in a sweaty vinyasa class. There’s no right or wrong way to practice yoga, people. This isn’t football. It’s all about being kind to your body…and if that means skipping out on a class to sit in child’s pose for ten minutes on your bedroom floor, that’s what it means.

What are some tapes that you play to yourself?

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  • Nicole @ Making Good Choices
    August 8, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    so true. it’s especially hard to get the you’re not a runner if you don’t run marathons tape to stop playing! Thanks for the reminder about being kind to your body!

    • Kiah
      August 8, 2011 at 7:07 pm

      Been there, done that (the running “tape”)! I’m off to run a leisurely 5k…(-:

  • Gina (Yogattude)
    August 8, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    When I began practicing yoga, I couldn’t stop comparing myself, my poses, my flexibility, my stmaina to eveyone else in the class. I’ve since let go of all that and put my attention to my breath and how each pose feels. It makes for a much more centered me after class!

  • Wendy
    August 8, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    This is such a great post. This makes me feel better. I have not done yoga every day on the challenge. I’m new to it. But I’ve done it four times since the challenge and I’m really starting to love it. My past workouts really beat my body up and they may be too hard core.

    I feel like if I am not killing myself in workouts, it’s pointless. So this challenge has taught me otherwise! I love how it really has helped my IBS as well.

  • Sarah @ SharingBananas
    August 8, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    Thanks, Jenna, I need this reminder often! I deliberately went to a slower yoga class this weekend so I could focus on just being in the poses, rather than constantly pushing and challenging myself.

  • RunEatRepeat
    August 8, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    This just reminded me I want to plan a Yosemite road trip before it gets too cold!
    Love the picture πŸ™‚

  • katie @KatieDid
    August 8, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    I play the tape that I need to always be doing something productive. It’s hard for me to totally relax unless its late at night and I’ve accomplished a lot for the day. Sometimes I need to remind myself to slow down and appreciate the time I have nothing to do… life won’t always be as slow and peaceful as it is now.

    • Diana
      August 9, 2011 at 11:02 am

      I hear that! I forget that relaxation is just as worthy and important as any other activity, and I don’t need to compete with others to demonstrate how “busy and important” I am!

      I wish I had read about your yoga challenge at the onset, I totally would have joined in! I always tell myself that I should squeeze in 15-20 minutes here and there in the morning or before bed, and that it will still make a difference – but I don’t! Now I am committing to do yoga for the rest of August. There! I said it.

  • Jennifer
    August 8, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    I really like this post. Sometimes I tell myself that I’m not good enough yet to go to the gym or run on the trail, and I have to work out at home until I’m better. I need to kabosh those voices and just get out there, because it doesn’t matterwhat people think!

  • Emilie
    August 8, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    I used to be a runner and really respect non-runners who manage to work towards their marathon goals. What a lovely way to give tribute to your mind and body and its abilities!

  • Bev Weidner
    August 8, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    SUCH good advice. You don’t even want to know the tapes that play in my head.

    It’s like the movie WHITE NOISE, and I’m sitting in the corner of a room, alone, scared, and needing to pee.

    I think I’ll do yoga now. πŸ™‚

  • Robin
    August 8, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    To me, the craziest things about the “tapes” we play about what others think is that, for the most part, no one else notices. At the gym, I couldn’t tell you whether the person on the next treadmill is running at 5.5 or 8.0; or if you have 10 lbs weights or 15. And if I’m hanging out in down dog, I can’t see what you’re doing behind me or beside me; whether you’re heels down or knees bent. So, why would it be any different for how people notice me? The days that you can turn it around and know that you’re a runner because you run (doesn’t matter where on the scale you put yourself), or a yogi because took 15 minutes to honor your body (not because you can move into Wild Thing gracefully (note: this is a dream for me))…those are the tapes worth putting on repeat.

    • Baking N Books
      August 8, 2011 at 1:43 pm

      What’s “Wild Thing”?! πŸ˜‰

      • Ali
        August 8, 2011 at 1:54 pm

        Flip Dog πŸ˜€

        • Baking N Books
          August 8, 2011 at 7:19 pm

          Ohhhh…like when your in down-dog and supposed to flip-over? Like a funky break-dance move? πŸ˜‰

    • Lauren
      August 9, 2011 at 9:14 am

      This is so true. So many of us fall victim to the belief that everything we do is being held up to impossible scrutiny, when this simply isn’t the case. Like you, I hardly ever notice what other people are doing at the gym, at the yoga studio, etc. Why, then, would they be concerned about what I’m doing? It’s such an interesting and bizarre impulse to assume that other people are focused on our every move!

  • Amanda
    August 8, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    I have a lot of trouble turning off the tapes that tell me I “should” be doing something. I feel like if I am sitting and relaxing, I should be more active, should clean up, should check something off my to-do list. I really admire people who are in tune with what they need or want to do, instead of always obeying some funny self-made rules!

  • Jessica @ Healthy Dairyland
    August 8, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    I still struggle some days comparing myself to other runners and yogis. I compare my speed, my distance, my poses, my strength to others. Then I catch myself, and remind myself that I am a phenomenal runner and yogi because I am the best that I can personally be right here in this moment!

    I am love this yoga challenge. I even got my little sister in on it with me. Every night we roll out our mats and practice together. It’s great!

  • Hayley @ Hayley Daily
    August 8, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    Ahh, sciatic nerve pain is the worst. I fractured my back when I was 16 and have sciatic nerve issues and herniated discs to remind me now. BAH.

  • Bethany @ More Fruit Please
    August 8, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    I just wanted to let you know how much I’m enjoying your yoga reflection posts! I’m not participating in the 21 day yoga challenge, but your words have inspired me to do some deep self-reflection and meditate on some positive messages. Thank you!

  • Baking N Books
    August 8, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    It’s nice to read that you are human Jenna πŸ˜‰ – I keep thinking your pumping out 75 or 90 minute classes full of salutations and crows…but, yes, most of my days I’ve had to do it at home – re: time and money going to a studio is not feasible for me. And truthfully, at home it’s difficult to go beyond 15 minutes at times.

    But that’s okay. (Or that’s what I’m trying to tell myself). Society drills into us about achieving and always wanting, striving, doing more – but really – what about just being? When do we just be? Even while walking the other day I thought about this – I never take the time to just sit on a bench and look out at the water…why not? Why do I have to go or move?

    Things we know, but we don’t really believe I guess until we do them -practice.

    • Baking N Books
      August 8, 2011 at 1:48 pm

      Wait – at home it is only 15 minutes!

      Oh and savassana with a pillow under knees and piriformis stretch is great for sciatica πŸ˜‰

  • Heather @ Get Healthy with Heather
    August 8, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    Love this.

  • Laura
    August 8, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    Jenna, I’m participating in your challenge AND my studio’s August Yoga Plunge challenge (practice 6 days a week). I’m discouraged because 5 days in I must have pulled something in my shoulder (ironically NOT due to yoga) and it hurts to turn my neck. CLEARLY this makes practicing difficult!! I’m trying to stay positive but not sure how to proceed because I don’t want to make things worse, but I made a commitment that I’d like to uphold. Any advice? Would you keep attending class and modify as necessary, even if it means resting in child’s pose? I think I’m meant to learn something from this and that’s why I don’t want to give up!

  • Julia
    August 8, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    Those “tapes” are a big problem for me sometimes. I love running but I’ve had two knee surgeries (on the same knee) to fix a devastatingly major knee injury and even though I can finally run again I am not, nor will I ever be, as fast as I was pre-injury. I also can’t run as far. It’s really a struggle to remind myself that I’m still a “real runner” even though there are no marathons in my future.

    Great post!

  • Becky
    August 8, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    That photo is GORGEOUS! I can’t wait to go to Yosemite someday!!

  • Errign
    August 8, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    Your posts always pop up when I most need to read them. I just finished writing a post on wanting to become a more mindful eater & exerciser, and I strive to not be negative or self-deprecating in it, but the nature of the topic always brings up some measure of readers thinking you find yourself inadequate. Thank you for reminding me that this is not a cookie cutter world & I don’t need to fit into someone’s mold.

  • Mel
    August 8, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    Amen! Truer words could not be written! Not sure if you felt this way when you were in Paris, but while studying in Florence I noticed that life seemed to move at a much slower, more enjoyable pace. 3-4 hour dinners? Yes please! The Italians even celebrate a holiday on August 15th called Ferragosto just for sake of celebrating summer. I think we have so much to learn from our friendly European neighbors!

  • Julie H. of Spinach and Sprinkles
    August 8, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    You have those tapes too?! … I need to learn to be happy with me and not compare myself to others…. easier said than done folks, easier said than done….

  • Paige @ Running Around Normal
    August 8, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    What a great message, Jenna πŸ™‚

  • Micaela
    August 8, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    I get stuck in thinking that if I don’t “look like I work out” or eat well, then people will think I don’t take care of myself. Why does it matter? I know that I’m healthy and active, and that’s what’s important.

  • kelly
    August 8, 2011 at 2:51 pm


  • mom
    August 8, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    I think that I need a “wee bread butt” …

  • dana @ my little celebration
    August 8, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    I play the tape “you haven’t worked out in two days, you’re already getting mushy. I don’t care how bad your knee or back hurts, get to the gym and bust your butt!!”

    Not healthy.

    Thanks for writing this post. It was just what my restless soul needed.

  • Brooke
    August 8, 2011 at 3:19 pm


    Yesterday I did an hour and a half Hatha class and was like ‘I didn’t sweat….was it worth it’ but it totally was. To just breathe and find calm and move slowly while still practicing. I think we as a society put so much pressure on results and the end that we miss the moment where your body says ‘Hey Hey YOU just relax, lets go for a walk NOT a run…’

    Anyways, you inspire me as per usual and I loved this post. It reminded me how amazing it is to just do what feels right and not what is expected of you.

    Excuse me while I go drink some wine on the lake with a good friend… πŸ˜‰

  • amy walters, aDESIGNdock
    August 8, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    After a year and a half of missing my regular yoga routine (yes, life happened), I’ve been 5 – 8 minutes of yoga a day during this challenge. It’s already reminded me how much I love it!

  • Emily
    August 8, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    Sorry about your sciatica, Jenna! I always play the “all or nothing” tape in my head. This can often try to discount that ten minutes of yoga, or the three healthy meals after eating a huge ice cream sundae… really, things just don’t work that way. I’m loving this challenge and am balancing tough days with easier days. πŸ™‚

  • Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga
    August 8, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    “Sometimes all the yoga we need a day is a brief fifteen minutes before bed while other days we enjoying challenging ourselves in a sweaty vinyasa class. There’s no right or wrong way to practice yoga, people. “-


    I post about this on my site all the time…that some days, MANY DAYS, 20 mins of at-home yoga and strecthing is all I can do. Time, motherhood, life, FT job..that’s it. But it’s Still yoga, it still has amazing benefit, and it makes me no less of a yogi or athlete.

    Same as the person who walks 1/2 mile, slowly. They are doing what they can. They dont need to run 26.2 miles in 3 hours.

    We all have different paths, needs, and even within each day/week/month each person has different energy levels, timetables, etc and so doing what you can, when you can, and what feels good, true, right..that’s the best message πŸ™‚

    And after all, isnt THAT yoga..listening to our bodies and our needs and not forcing things? I think so. πŸ™‚

    • Lorin
      August 8, 2011 at 7:42 pm

      Well said Averie!

  • CJ @
    August 8, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    Thank you for another delicious bread recipe! I made your previously posted cinnamon bread for thanksgiving last year and the whole loaf was devoured with dinner! I will definitely be trying this one because I was a huuuuge fan of the pepperidge farm variety growing up. I especially loved it with peanut butter and honey!

  • K
    August 8, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    You know, something about the westernization of yoga that really gets me is this idea that it’s an athletic endeavour with some spiritual stuff on the side. When I learned yoga as a child, we were taught to breathe long before we were taught any actual postures. In fact, our guru told us that we would be ready to integrate the whole body once we were confident that we could sit outside on a crisp morning wearing only light clothing, but maintain a great deal of warmth through seated breathing alone. I respect and admire that people get fitness out of yoga (and it is tremendously beneficial for our bodies), but hearing people talk about needing to sweat, not wanting to practice if its not hot, etc. always makes me feel disheartened about the way we’ve imported and uploaded yoga in North America. Thank you for this lovely post!!!

  • RoughlyARunner
    August 8, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    Re: your sciatica pain, I thought I had that once too and turned out it was my piriformis muscle. A lil pigeon pose may help!

    • Meglynd
      August 8, 2011 at 8:34 pm

      Be careful with sciatica, it is a symptom of something else, could be the piriformis is too tight, or a disc issue. Stretch A LOT, roll on a tennis ball to relieve pressure points, stretch your lower back and hamstrings daily. I used to run a lot and now have a large herniation of my disc at L5/SI and you do not want to ever go there. Don’t overdo it on the running for now & Good luck.

  • Brittany @ Itty Bits of Balance
    August 8, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    I really enjoyed this post. People spend so much time comparing themselves to others! Really, we should all just worry about our own well being, whether that be in the form of yoga or something else!

  • Alex
    August 8, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    I had siatic problems (feels like a pinching in the lower back, usually to one side, and it shoots down your leg if you move it weird or put pressure on it. and can make your leg tingle, or fall asleep) and yoga was the only thing that helped. downward dog all the way. make sure youre really stretching your lower back (stomach to thighs when stretching hamstrings), and also stretching your quads which seems unnecessary but both sides of your legs can pull that connection between your legs and lower back together and cause pinching of the nerve. also, heat helped a lot.

  • Chelsea
    August 8, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    Thanks for this post, Jenna. My doctor just a gave me a simple prescription to slow down (and eat more fruits/veggies)… looks like God is trying to talk to me a few different ways here.

  • Mondays Need Extra Lovin
    August 8, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    […] be running until race day – lots of yoga this week!! Plus, it’s day 8 of the challenge! I’m already looking forward to class tomorrow […]

  • sarah
    August 8, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    I heard one time that you’re either one of those people who does a marathon and is hooked, or you run one and you’re finished forever. Who’s to say what I’ll do? I did one three years ago, and I might do one in the future, but it doesn’t make me any less of a runner. I love doing my 4-5 miles, 3-4 times a week. I feel great at this distance.

    Measuring yourself against other fitness routines doesn’t make sense when you should be listening to your body for what it needs at that moment.

    By the way, I just moved to St. Louis. Any St. Louis 4-5 milers out there?!

  • Jessica
    August 8, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    I really love the calm yet strong tone your blog has taken on lately. I have always loved your blog but have enjoyed it even more the past few weeks & the yoga challenge is going great for me! So glad I decided to join in!

  • Alex
    August 8, 2011 at 8:55 pm

    Love this post.

  • Jackie @ That Deep Breath
    August 8, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    Love this. Yoga is about how you feel and what you need. It’s individual, that’s what’s so amazing about it.

  • Victoria @ The Pursuit of Hippieness
    August 8, 2011 at 9:58 pm

    For me, it’s time… that’s been the biggest struggle of the yoga challenge, is telling myself that even if it’s 5 minutes, I need to put the time aside to just do a couple of sun salutations and center myself.

  • Khushboo
    August 8, 2011 at 10:59 pm

    Amen! PReach it girl…so true! Whether you run a mile or 20, you are a runner…I just need to remind myself of this on the days when i wanna throw in the towel after 2 miles!

  • Katrina
    August 9, 2011 at 4:01 am

    Keep at it! This is such a fun challenge.

  • Karen
    August 9, 2011 at 4:18 am

    Love these words of wisdom…thanks Jenna. And, Godspeed to you in healing.

  • Yolie @ Practising Wellness
    August 9, 2011 at 5:48 am

    Love this, and I agree 100%. For my teacher training we did a 30 day yoga challenge, where we committed to practising everyday and then journalled about our experience each day. For me, especially practising a strong sequence daily, was not possible – and not yogic. It is so important to practice “ahimsa”, and that means taking a yummy yin yoga class once a week, and even having a completely restorative savasana as your practice on another day. That’s what I love about yoga…it’s philosophy of kindess <3 xyx

  • Jes
    August 9, 2011 at 6:23 am

    Thanks for the reminder that it is okay to take a step back if needed… and that it is indeed no big deal. I play the tapes too often… I should be as fast as XXXX person, I should be as strong as XXXX person, I should ski as well as XXXX person… But I am my own person. Thanks for the uplift =)

  • Carissa
    August 9, 2011 at 6:39 am

    I tell myself all the time that I need to keep up with exercise and it’s hard to listen to my body when it’s telling me to slow down. Even only 8 days into the yoga challenge, I’m already listening more about my body’s needs than I usually do. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Amy
    August 9, 2011 at 7:59 am

    As someone relatively new to yoga and running and recovering from an injury, I’m very familiar with the tapes in my head. However, my yoga teacher said something to our class recently that really reasonated with me. She said, it’s yoga PRACTICE, not yoga PERFECT. I really love that.

  • Lauren
    August 9, 2011 at 9:09 am

    Love this post – you’re absolutely right.

    As a runner, I sometimes struggle with the fact that I don’t race NEARLY as much as other runners. To be perfectly honest, I don’t especially love racing. For me, running is a solitary thing – I enjoy running with myself and challenging MYSELF, just not in the context of a race. I pretty much gave up racing about a year ago – and I’m mostly content with my decision. (Except when I stupidly start comparing myself to other runners/racers). You have to do what makes you happy. There’s no one ‘right way’ to a runner, yogi. cyclist…or, in general, a person.

  • grace b
    August 9, 2011 at 9:41 am

    Hey Jenna! This is technically my day 8 today.

    Your challenge inspired me to bite the bullet and commit to a studio! I am participating in the local power yoga studio’s 30 days for $30 deal. I LOVE it. I had my first class there yesterday (first time with hot yoga too–I sweated buckets!) and it was wonderful. Looking forward to the encouragement of having a studio to go to on my way to/from work!

    Today I just did a simple 15 minutes and then took my dogs for an hour-long hike.

    I agree with others who mention that we can sometimes feel the intense pressure to be perfect or do things like everyone else–let’s ignore it! Do you.

  • Beth
    August 9, 2011 at 5:38 pm


    You wrote exactly what I needed to hear! I hate how that is… we are always so hard on ourselves. It’s draining! I feel like we are taught to never think we are good enough, even though we try so hard. Sometimes we, ourselves, are the hardest ones to please! It makes me feel good too to read that “you don’t have to practice yoga for 90 minutes a day”. Because some days I only can handle 10 minutes. But does that mean I’m not truly doing yoga!? No! I just means that day I needed a little less. And some days I would rather take my dog for a stroll than a run. Does that mean I’m a bad person? I certainly hope not. Sometimes we all need reassurance that we ARE good enough! Even if it comes from someone else, it helps us realize it inside!

    So THANK YOU!!!

  • Jon Schnorenberg
    August 10, 2011 at 8:26 am

    Thanks, Jenna! Very thoughtful. I enjoyed the reminder to be aware of the kind of “self talk” we often unconsciously subject ourselves too. I love reading your blog…I love the recipes, the pictures, and the joyful spirit with which you share it all πŸ™‚

  • Shannon
    August 10, 2011 at 8:59 am

    I couldn’t agree more! I love yoga, but I don’t know every pose and exact terminology. Sometimes I just like to do a few simple & relaxing poses before bed or in the morning! That’s good enough for me – no need for tapes! πŸ™‚

    Thanks for the great post!

  • Sarah Elizabeth
    August 10, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    Great photo, and great post! You’ve inspired me to get back into yoga with the great links to free yoga workouts. I’m curious: what type of mat do you use? Do you have any recommendations? I’ve always used the ones they let you borrow for classes at the gym. I can’t believe I’ve gone so long without purchasing my own!

  • Katie P
    August 10, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    I am trying to break the tape that plays in my head that tell me I am not thin enough. Losing 10 pounds will not make me happy. I have to learn to listen to me, myself and I to figure out what will fulfill my soul and make me happy. I can look outside myself for inspiration, like the kind you give me. But at the end of the day it’s about what feeds me….Now I can write this, however living it is HARD.