Monday, September 17, 2012

Yoga Journal Fitness Challenge

And so it begins. I started this a little late because I was finishing off the Tribesports challenge, and the weekend happened... Torchlight also happened... Anyway, Day 1 of this challenge officially began today. I have been impressed so far with what I've seen from the Yoga Journal emails. The challenge emails come with a 30 minute exclusive video, a suggested recipe for the day, and the occasional bonus video/tip. Out of all the challenges I've done this year, I highly recommend this one.

The challenge in a nutshell. Taken from
DAY 1: Pump it up 
Today's focus was on a flow sequence, intending on boosting the heart rate. Loved it, clearly explained, and beautifully demonstrated. Also loved the warming down sequence at the end before sivasana. The recipe for today is a yummy looking gingery quinoa salad, which I would have loved to have made today, but my tummy was playing up.

DAY 2: Awaken your core
Today's recipe is a Blueberry-Cucumber smoothie. I'm loving these Alexandria Crow videos. She explains really clearly, so most of the time, I just work on her aural direction without needing to look at the video. Today's core work session was hard, harder than the Tribesports challenge!!

DAY 3: Put some Ashtanga into your step 
This was the same video as Day 1, with a bonus video on ujjayi pranayama. Today's recipe, a Portobello Mushroom and Spinach Tartine with Roasted Garlic Spread looked really tempting, but my stomach bug unfortunately has not subsided. :(

DAY 4: Flex your muscles 
Today's awesome sequence focuses on the upper body strength, so lots of chaturanga and side planks, low planks and low side planks. And today's recipe? Green Tea Edamame! Unfortunately I've been too sick to try any of these recipes... I'm just having soups every day, but I've made a note of which ones I'd definitely try out and will blog about these when I do.

HIATUS: So... unfortunately, no progress in the challenge (which I guess means I have failed it :( ) It's the school holidays now, and my life turns topsy-turvy come school holiday time. My work hours change, I have holidays planned, and I catch up with life. So... I guess this means, this post will resume post school holidays. See you come Monday, 8 October.

DAY 5:Happy, Healthy Heart
Back to Video 1, with a beautiful white bean and arborio rice soup recipe attached. A bonus video on alternate nostril breathing. Never done this before? It clears out the sinuses, and claims to help balance out your body and calm your mind, while promoting wakefulness.

My attempt at the white bean and arborio soup
DAY 6: Unwind from the Week 
This is a slow-paced yoga for rejuvenation. Going into tabletop pose felt really good after a strenuous session of Pilates this week. And today's recipe? A Crunchy Green Tahini Salad.

DAY 7: Take it Easy 
I really like how they've incorporated a rest day into the sequence while still encouraging you to be healthy with a Pesto-Potato Frittata. Yum!

DAY 8: Align with Power
This week's cardio videos are done by Noll Daniel. I have to admit that I don't like his videos as much as Alexandria's. I've always had a preference for female teachers... I didn't particularly warm to Noll's voice nor words that he would use. That aside, it was a good sequence, definitely felt warm after the practice, although not sweaty even though it was a warm day. However, these delicious muffins are definitely a perk and I've added it to my to-bake list.
As it turns out, not as delicious as they sound. It tasted more like a fruit scone. 

DAY 9: Get Creative with Crunches
The strongest workout so far. Also by Noll Daniel, this focuses on the core. I'd rank the difficulty as intermediate-advanced, there are modifications that he introduces, but it's still a very intense workout (especially after yesterday's pilates). I'd say this is one of my favourite sequences, I will definitely be coming back to this in the future. Today's recipe is a Spicy Tofu Bento Bowl.

DAY 10: Staying on Track 
Just the regular weekly cardio video, plus a spaghetti recipe.

DAY 11: Feel like a Rock Star
This video had a strong focus on upper body strength, think bakasana, side planks, one legged pushups, pushups, one legged planks. I'd rate this as intermediate-advanced, depending on which modification you want to go with. Kim Sin, the yoga demonstrator, is crazily fit. Today's recipe is the Paprika Cauliflower Pita Pockets, which were incredibly yummy!

Pita pockets, mmmmmmmmm
DAY 12: Happy Body Happy Brain
The flow video for the week, plus a recipe for a veggie fried rice.

DAY 13: Cultivating Steadiness and Ease 
Back to the same rejuvenation video as Day 6, plus a recipe for Baked Apples with Maple-Walnut sauce.

DAY 14: Restore Yourself 
Another rest day, so no videos. There are however, suggestions for rejuvenation poses, such as legs up the wall, child's and corpse pose, and a couple of reclining poses. Recipe for the day is poached eggs on asparagus. What a wonderful breakfast idea!

DAY 15: Working with Breath
This is the flow video from week 1, which I really enjoyed. Another breakfast idea... Overnight Chai Steel-Cut Oats

DAY 16: The Core of the Matter
Same video as Day 9 so be prepared for another core workout. The attached recipe for curried lentil soup with lemon is simply delicious! In fact, best lentil anything that I've made ever.

Ok, so it looks like gruel, but I swear it's delicious!

DAY 17: Go with the Flow 
Flow video from Week 2 to shake things up! And a recipe for spring rolls with lemon ginger dipping sauce, yum!

DAY 18: Growing Roots 
I found this Alexandria Crow sequence really challenging, and I think it made my knee injury worse :( It was full of squats, and my left knee just couldn't take it. And a recipe for a chickpea, artichoke heart and tomato salad with arugula.

DAY 19: Advancing Your Pranayama Practice
Back to flow video from Week 1, with a short textual focus on pranayama. Recipe for the day is Quick-Brased Broccoli with Sun-dried tomato and goat's cheese.

DAY 20: Beyond the Body 
Noll Daniels rejuvenation video, plus ultimate vegan chilli recipe. This recipe does look incredibly yum and I wish I could make it, but the ingredients are very American and I can't seem to find them here. Help anyone?

DAY 21: You did it! 
And so I did, after way more than 21 days :P I did keep active in between though, with these yoga videos slotting into my workout routine instead of being done daily. We finish off with a Sicilian Swiss Chard over Quinoa.
The celebratory final meal
If you're interested in participating in the 21-Day Fitness Challenge, you can sign up here, or alternatively, purchase the DVDs. There are both intermediate and beginner challenges to opt for on the website. It's a free challenge (unless you buy the DVD), so go challenge yourself today!


  1. Wow, this looks really healthy...I have been thinking of getting back into exercising but this looks like a serious commitment!

  2. The good thing about these exercises so far is that they are quite accessible, and not too hard. They do get quite vigorous, and best of all, they're free anyway!

  3. I'd love to give this a go. Unfortunately, I don't have the time to do it though. Lame excuse, I know. Plus I am not the one in charge of groceries and meals in the family.

    1. You really just need to make a start and the rest isn't so hard :) I know what you mean though... some yoga challenges require 1-1.5hrs daily, but this takes a max of 30 mins.